PhD Students

If you are a prospective PhD student interested in speaking to a current PhD student, please reach out to one of our student representatives:

  • Serena Scognamiglio
    ss3984@georgetown.edu
    Entered 2018; Kellar Lab
  • Eric Witherspoon
    ejw68@georgetown.edu
    Entered 2018; Forcelli Lab

2021

mb2318@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Research Interests: Neurodegeneration, Neuropharmacology, Synaptic Plasticity

Education:
Northeastern University, B.S., Behavioral Neuroscience, 2014
Georgetown University, M.S., Pharmacology, 2020

Prior Research: While completing my Master’s degree at Georgetown, I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Dan Pak developing new GFP and Luciferase-based assays to be used in understanding the roles of Alzheimer’s Disease risk factors APP and tau. As an undergraduate, I worked at Harvard Medical School in the lab of Dr. David VanVactor studying the role of microRNA’s in neuromuscular development in Drosophila melanogaster. I also worked in the Laboratory for Neurogenomics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital under Dr. Clemens Scherzer analyzing samples for the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Biomarker Study.

Rotations:
Dr. Rebekah Evans
Dr. Tingting Wang

jhb109@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Education: Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, B.Sc., Pharmaceutical Science, 2019

Rotations:
Dr. Mark Burns
Dr. Anton Wellstein

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
Dr. Gerard Ahern
Dr. Alexey Ostroumov

gjg31@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: Pre-thesis

Education:
Georgetown University, B.S. in Neurobiology (2017), M.S. in Pharmacology (2017)

Rotations:
Dr. Mark Burns
Dr. Susan Amara

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
Dr. Katherine Conant

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
Dr. Kathleen Maguire-Zeiss

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
Dr. Italo Mocchetti

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

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 Title: Developing novel treatments for orphan kidney diseases
Advisor: Dr. Moshe Levi

Thesis Research: I research novel treatments for chronic kidney disease under the direction of Dr. Moshe Levi. Using mouse models of Alport syndrome and crystalline nephropathy, I investigate the intersection of metabolism and innate immunity in the pathogenesis of renal failure.

Research Interests: rare diseases, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease

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: Mentor: Dr. Marvin Miller. I conducted a structure-activity relationship study to optimize a lead compound with nano-molar anti-cancer activity in vitro. These compounds were selective for 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 Title: The effect of Amphetamine in age-associated cognitive decline.
Advisor: Dr. Ken Kellar

Thesis Research: I use behavior, cellular and molecular biology to investigate the dysfunction of neuronal pathways in the aged brain and the potential benefits of pharmacological interventions on cognition.

Research Interests: Neurodegeneration, Neuropharmacology, Behavioral neuroscience, Neuronal pathways

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

Prior Research: The functional roles of microglia cells within the mesolimbic dopamine system during the course of the normal aging; Investigation on the aging-related increases in microglial density and lipofuscin as benign/protective or neurotoxic factors; 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

ejw68@georgetown.edu

Thesis Research: I use behavioral and molecular techniques to understand the acute and chronic outcomes of anti-seizure drugs on brain development
Advisor: Dr. Patrick Forcelli

Research Interests:
neurodegeneration, neurotoxicity, neuroinflammation, neuropharmacology

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

Prior Research: Eric graduated from Morehouse College with a B.S. in Biology in 2017. During his undergraduate matriculation he joined the lab of Dr. Kennie Shepherd where he studied the effects of fumaric acid (FA) on cell induced toxicity and dopaminergic neurodegeneration in a Parkinson’s Disease mouse model. Following graduation, Eric participated in the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at the University of South Carolina where he worked under the supervision of Dr. Marlene Wilson. His project focused on using a combination of molecular techniques to characterize acetylcholinesterase (ACHE) levels in subjects previously tested for fear extinction. Eric started his PhD at Georgetown University in 2018 and has several ongoing projects. He is currently examining the toxicity profiles of next-generation anti-seizure medications (ASMs) on brain development, and his doctoral thesis investigates the underlying mechanisms of how early life inflammation influences anti-seizure medication associated toxicities.

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

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

Thesis Title: Modeling and simulation of drug distribution in the central nervous system.
Advisors: Dr. Sorell Schwartz/Dr. Charbel Moussa

Research Interests: Neurodegeneration, Pharmacometrics, Modeling and Simulation

Thesis Research:  I’ve developed and applied a model that incorporates regional brain microanatomy in order to predict the potential distribution of small molecule drugs by applying known physiological and pathological variation to a model of drug distribution in both the brain tissue and CSF. The model is verified using data from clinical studies run here at Georgetown as well as available literature data. 

Education:
Hobart College, B.S. 2002
Georgetown University, M.S. in Pharmacology, 2010

Prior Research: Industry and NIH funded studies ranging from islet cell transplant to dermatology. 


Program Graduates

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