PhD Students

2020

yc835@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests: Synaptic plasticity, Alzheimer’s Disease, Spinocerebellar Ataxia

Education:
University of Maryland, B.S. Physiology and Neurobiology, 2015; University of Maryland, M.Ed. Secondary Science Education, 2017; Georgetown University, M.S. Pharmacology, 2020

Prior Research: Nanjing Medical University, under Dr. Wentao Liu, investigating molecular pathways of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).

Rotations:
Dr. Tingting Wang

gjg31@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

ksh89@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests: Depression, Anxiety, Psychiatric drugs, Neuropharmacology

Education:
Virginia Commonwealth University. B.S. in Biology (2017), B.S. in Psychology (2017)

Prior Research: At the Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, I primarily worked in the Amstadter Lab investigating the role of personality and combat history on alcohol use in military veterans. After graduation, I worked at PPD, a pharmaceutical CRO, as both an Assistant Scientist in the Immunochemistry department and a Quality Assurance auditor in the Vaccine Sciences department.

Rotations:
Dr. Ken Kellar

baw92@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests: Glial interactions, Mechanisms of aging, Parkinson’s disease

Education:
North Carolina A&T State University, B.S. in Biology, 2019

Prior Research: After graduation, I was accepted into the Discovery PREP postbaccalaureate program at The Ohio State University where I joined the lab of Dr. Sakima Smith. The goal of the lab was to better understand the mechanisms of heart failure by using spectrins as a therapeutic target for several medications that could potentially exhibit cardioprotective effects, e.g., statins.

Rotations:
Dr. Katherine Conant

jw1936@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests: Electrophysiology, Neuropharmacology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Neural Plasticity, Development

Education:
New York University, B.S. Neural Science, 2020

Prior Research: Dr. Regina Sullivan, Dr. Maya Opendak, Dr. Kathryn Humphreys. In the Sullivan lab at NYU, under the mentorship of Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Opendak, I researched the neurobiology of early life attachment and the enduring effects of early life abuse and trauma in neurobehavioral functioning. In the SEA lab at Vanderbilt University, under the mentorship of Dr. Humphreys, I looked at the associations between prenatal maternal cortisol, a stress hormone, on stress susceptible brain regions postnatally. 

Rotations:
Dr. Alexey Ostroumov

2019

yma15@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Education:
Petra University (Jordan), BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2012; Wright State University, MS in Pharmacology and Toxicology, 2015

Rotations:
Dr. Gerard Ahern
Dr. Kenneth Kellar
Dr. Tingting Wang

mmk116@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Education:  
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, dual-degree in Biopsychology (B.S.) and Dance (B.A.), 2013;
Georgetown University, Pharmacology (M.S.), 2019

Prior Research:

  • Georgetown University: role of the dorsal vagal circuit in the modulation of gastric motility and tone (Drs. Vicini and Sahibzada)
  • George Washington University: efficacy of caspase in generating focal lesions on VTA-GABA neurons, sex differences in mouse behavioral studies (Dr. Polter)
  • UMBC: reward-seeking behavior in early childhood development (Social Development Lab), drug +/- occupational therapies in schizophrenic outpatients (MPRC)

Rotations:
Dr. Stefano Vicini
Dr. Daniel Pak
Dr. Tingting Wang

js4774@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Education:
CUNY Hunter College, BS in Biomedical Science, 2019

Rotations:
Dr. G. William Rebeck
Dr. Italo Mocchetti
Dr. Tingting Wang


2018

Griffin Greco

gag44@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests: Alzheimer’s Disease, glial interactions

Education:
Georgetown University, BS in Neurobiology, 2016

Prior Research: After graduation, I worked as a research assistant at Walter Reed for 2 years. Our lab focused on current vaccine trials for various infectious diseases, specifically focused on the effects of novel vaccines on white blood cells.

Rotations:
Dr. Stefano Vicini
Dr. Katherine Conant
Dr. Daniel Pak

Bryce Jones

baj46@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Education:
University of Notre Dame, BS in Chemistry, 2015; Georgetown University, MS in Pharmacology, 2016; Georgetown University School of Medicine MD/PhD (in progress)

Prior Research: I researched anticancer drug discovery in the organic chemistry lab of Dr. Marvin Miller at the University of Notre Dame. I synthesized and characterized anticancer compounds with nano-molar activity against breast cancer over the course of several iterations of a structure-activity relationship study. These compounds exhibited selective activity against breast cancer among the cell lines that were tested.

Rotations:
Dr. Anna Riegel
Dr. William Welch
Dr. Jeffrey Toretsky

Serena Scognamiglio

ss3984@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Education:
University of Naples – Federico II, PharmD, 2016

Prior Research: As an undergraduate, I carried out my experimental thesis at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, where I have been actively involved in experiments aimed at studying several topics: (1) The functional roles of microglia cells within the mesolimbic dopamine system during the course of the normal aging; (2) Investigation on the aging-related increases in microglial density and lipofuscin as benign/protective or neurotoxic factors. The culmination of this effort was an honor’s thesis, entitled “Phenotypes of Basal Ganglia Microglia and Interactions with Surrounding Neurons During the Course of Normal Aging.” My graduate-level research experience in the Neuroscience Department at GU, involves investigation on the influence of the glycoprotein 120 on dendritic spine formation in the striatum of a mouse model with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder.

Rotations:
Dr. Daniel Pak
Dr. Stefano Vicini
Dr. Tingting Wang
Dr. Kenneth Kellar

Eric Witherspoon

ejw68@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests:
Neurodegeneration, Oxidative stress, Homeostatic plasticity

Education:
Morehouse College, B.S. in Biology, 2017

Prior Research: I’ve had several research experiences prior to matriculating into the PhD program at Georgetown University. My first experience was at the University of North Texas Health Science Center where the goal of my project was to look at the effect of chemical compounds on the Human Voltage-Gated proton channel (Hv1), and examine which compound would bind with a higher efficacy. The results from our study demonstrated that while ZnCl, Amiloride, and 5-(N,N-Hexamethylene) amiloride were able to bind and inhibit the Hv1 proton channel, 5-(N,N-Hexamethylene) amiloride was the best antagonist for reducing the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS). My next research experience was at Morehouse School of Medicine where the objective of my research project was to look at the chemical compound, fumaric acid (FA), and its role in the reduction of cell toxicity and dopamine neurodegeneration in the substantia nigra and striatum regions of the brain. We were able to show that FA is able to prevent the increase of ROS, reduce mitochondrial function impairment, and prevent a loss of dopaminergic neurons in a Parkinson’s Disease model. Finally, my research at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine consisted of determining acetylcholinesterase (ACHE) levels in various regions of rat brain previously tested for fear extinction. Our studies indicated that several brain regions that contribute to fear extinction had higher levels of ACHE compared to other brain regions not involved in fear extinction.

Rotations:
Dr. Gerard Ahern
Dr. Tingting Wang
Dr. Patrick Forcelli


2017

msa150@georgetown.edu

Thesis Title: The role of Alzheimer’s disease risk factor genes in hyperexcitability.
Advisor: Dr. Daniel Pak

Thesis Research: I employ a wide array of molecular biology techniques to study the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease risk factor genes in hyperexcitability.

Research Interests: Amyloid beta, hyperexcitability, synaptic plasticity 

Education:
George Mason University, B.S. in Biology, 2014;
Georgetown University, M.S. in Pharmacology, 2017

Prior Research: I studied the role of single nucleotide variants on Perilipin 4 and its impact on bone, skeletal muscle and fat phenotypes at the Research Center for Genetic Medicine at Children National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Rotations:
Dr. Robert Yasuda
Dr. Daniel Pak
Dr. William Rebeck

David Castellano

ddc48@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-Thesis
Advisors: Dr. Wei Lu (NINDS/NIH); Dr. Stefano Vicini

Research Interests: Neuroscience, Synapses, Neural Circuits, Electrophysiology

Education:
Arcadia University, BA Psychology, 2015;
Columbia University,TC, MS Neuroscience, 2016

Prior Research: Synapse development and function, behavioral neuroscience, cellular and molecular neuroscience, pharmacology.

Rotations:
Dr. SooHyun Lee (NIMH/NIH)
Dr. Stefano Vicini (Georgetown)
Dr. Timothy Petros (NICHD/NIH)

sng46@georgetown.edu

Thesis Title: APP phosphorylation and internalization regulates synaptic removal of AMPARs.
Advisors: Dr. Stefano Vicini; Dr. Daniel Pak

Thesis Research: I use patch clamp electrophysiology in acute slices and primary culture along with confocal imaging to examine effects of APP phosphorylation sites on synaptic removal of AMPA receptors.

Research Interests: Electrophysiology, Neuropharmacology, Synaptic plasticity, Alzheimer’s Disease

Education:
University of Richmond, B.S. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, 2016; Georgetown University, M.S. Physiology & Biophysics, 2017

Prior Research: University of Richmond, under DR. J. Ellis Bell, examining the structure of suppressor of IκB Kinase ε (SIKE) using various spectroscopic techniques including 2D NMR & circular dichroism

Rotations:
Dr. Stefano Vicini
Dr. Daniel Pak
Dr. Gerard Ahern

Amanda Schneeweis

aks133@georgetown.edu

Thesis Title: Identifying phosphorylated-tau epitopes involved during hyperexcitation.
Advisor: Dr. Daniel Pak

Thesis Research: I use molecular biology and imaging techniques to better understand tau phosphorylation characteristics during hyperexcitation.

Research Interests: Synaptic plasticity, Neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s Disease

Education:
Purdue University, BS in Biomedical Engineering, 2017

Prior Research: Understanding structural relaxations of proteins in lyophilized solids using dielectric spectroscopy. Studying the chemical and physical stability of an HIV fusion inhibitor.

Rotations:
Dr. Italo Mocchetti
Dr. William Rebeck
Dr. Daniel Pak


2016

ssa83@georgetown.edu

Thesis Title: The role of matric metalleoprotieneases in the efficacy of the antidepressants drugs.
Advisor: Dr. Katherine Conant

Research Interests: Neuroplasticity, Perineuronal nets, MMPs, Electrophysiology

Thesis Research: In my dissertation proposal, I’m investigating a novel mechanism of linking antidepressant drug’s effects to perineuronal nets (PNN) processing and exploring the role of matrix metalleoprotieneases (MMPs) in promoting the development of a new prospective on our understanding of the mode of action of antidepressants. Some prior research provide evidence to support our hypothesis that MMPs are important contributors in controlling extracellular proteolysis in the synaptic plasticity. However, their role in the antidepressant efficacy have not been explored yet. My two primary research questions of my proposed projectare: Can monoamines and monoamines modulators stimulate MMPs dependent mechanisms of neuroplasticity, spinogenesis and neuronal dynamics. Whether MMPs activity is important for the antidepressant effects on the PNN integrity and neuronal activity.

Education:
Georgetown University, Physiology and Biophysics, MS; Qassim College of Medicine, Medicine and Surgery, MD

Prior Research: The neuroprotective mechanisms of Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers in LPS-induce inflammation in BV2 microglia cells model and in glutamate excitotoxicity in primary neuronal cells

Rotations:
Dr. Daniel Pak
Dr. Sonia Villapol
Dr. Katherine Conant

sh1111@georgetown.edu

Thesis Title: Assessing basal ganglia pathways for seizure restraint.
Advisor: Dr. Patrick Forcelli

Research Interests: Epilepsy, Neurophsyiology, Seizure Circuits, Optogenetics, Chemogenetics, Fiber Photometry

Thesis Research: Under Dr. Forcelli’s supervision, I am systematically assessing the ability of divergent basal ganglia pathways to control seizures in various preclinical models of epilepsy. To harness and modulate these circuits, we employ a combination of optogenetics and chemogenetics. By complementing these approaches with fiber photometry, I aim to map the activity of the basal ganglia in the normal and epileptic brains with cell-type and pathway specificity.
 

Education:
George Mason/Georgetown Universities-M.S. Biomedical Sciences, 2013;
University of Missouri, Columbia-B.S. Biological Sciences, 2012

Prior Research: Mentors: Dr. Jim Sowers, Dr. Adam Whaley-Connell, Dr. Ravi Nistala.
With my undergraduate mentors, I studied the roles of nutrient-sensing and trophic signaling pathways in metabolic syndrome and explored pharmacological agents as treatments for physiologic decline.

Rotations:
Dr. Niaz Sahibzada and Dr. Stefano Vicini
Dr. Bob Yasuda
Dr. Richard Gillis


2015

amh79@georgetown.edu


Program Graduates

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

  • My Chau, M.S. (Ph.D. 2009 in Cell Biology)
  • Guisou Zarbalian M.S.

2003

2002

2001

2000