Guest Contributors

Aside from the core team, Knowing Neurons also posts articles from guest contributors, all of whom are pursuing higher education in neuroscience.  If you would like to contribute to Knowing Neurons, please submit an abstract on our Write For KN page or email us at!


Here are our guest contributors, with the most recent authors first.

2016 contributors:

Jennifer TribbleJennifer Tribble

Jennifer Tribble graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013 with a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.S. in Microbiology.  She first discovered her love of neuroscience research as an undergraduate, and is now working toward her PhD at UCLA in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Fanselow.  Jennifer’s interests lie primarily in behavioral neuroscience, and specifically mapping cellular changes to holistic behavioral phenotypes.  In the Fanselow lab, she studies fear behavior and Pavlovian conditioning to understand the neural mechanisms of fear acquisition and extinction.

2015 contributors:

Jeremy BornigerJeremy Borniger

Jeremy graduated with honors from Indiana University – Bloomington with a BA in biological anthropology and a minor in medical science.  Following graduation, Jeremy worked as the assistant project director for the Semliki Chimpanzee Project at the Semliki-Toro wildlife reserve in western Uganda.  Jeremy is currently completing his PhD in neuroscience at The Ohio State University.  His research focuses on how cancer and the agents used to treat it (namely, cytotoxic chemotherapeutics) alter sleep and circadian rhythms.  Broadly, his interests include circadian rhythms, sleep, neuroimmunology, and evolution.  Since starting his graduate study in 2012, Jeremy has published six peer reviewed papers and was awarded the OSU Presidental Fellowship and the Pelotonia Graduate Fellowship.  Additionally, Jeremy was selected as a Society for Neuroscience Advocacy Ambassador and received a travel award to present his research at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington DC.  In his spare time, he enjoys writing, playing piano, scuba diving, and cooking.

Colin ONealColin O’Neal

Colin graduated from Texas State University San Marcos with a B.A. in Psychology where he wrote his honors thesis on a proposed experimental method for measuring  human hippocampal neurogenesis.  He then moved to Houston to work as a middle and high school science teacher in low income schools, and later as a curriculum developer for STEMscopes, an award-winning, national digital curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  Colin has an M.S. in Neuroscience and Education from Columbia University Teachers College and currently works as an instructional coach for the YES Prep Public Schools in Houston where he trains and develops new teachers in low income schools.  While not a laboratory researcher, he is passionate about leveraging cognitive and behavioral neuroscience research to improve the quality of classroom instruction, and overall K-12 school systems.

Konstantin BakhurinKonstantin Bakhurin

Konstantin received his undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Michigan, where he conducted research on tendon cellular physiology.  After realizing that his training could be used to study the brain, Konstantin narrowed his focus to neuroscience.  In 2011, he began his graduate training in the Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program at UCLA and currently works under Dr. Sotiris Masmanidis in the department of Neurobiology.  His thesis focuses on utilizing novel recording technology to study how networks of brain cells store information and influence behavior. 

Kathy MyersKathy Myers

Kathy began her foray into neuroscience as a Master’s student at Columbia University, studying the role of protein degradation in neurodegeneration.  Currently a doctoral student at UCLA, Kathy uses imaging and electrophysiological techniques to study how neurons regulate neurotransmitter release on a rapid time scale, with an emphasis on understanding how exposure to environmental toxins can contribute to neuronal dysfunction.  Kathy plays an active role in graduate student affairs as a member of UCLA’s Biological Sciences Council and is passionate about science advocacy and outreach through outlets like AAAS and various on-campus STEM activities.

 Teodora Stoica Knowing NeuronsTeodora Stoica

Teodora Stoica has worked in neuroscience and psychology research for over five years, contributing to the scientific understanding of the brain at Yale University and University of Maryland, Baltimore.  She hosts her own writing at and is a Science Expert on  She is thrilled to begin graduate school at the University of Louisville in Translational Neuroscience in the fall of 2015.  In her future research, she will investigate the neural correlates of emotion through a multidisciplinary approach and how emotions impact thought and behavior. 


2014 contributors:

Laura KnoglerLaura D. Knogler

Laura made her first recording of neural activity in crayfish and lobsters as an undergraduate at the University of Victoria in 2006. Since this time she has worked as a research assistant studying the frog neuromuscular junction, completed a M.Sc. in Neuroscience at McGill University investigating homeostatic plasticity, and spent several months rock climbing in the Middle East and Africa. Laura is currently finishing up her Ph.D. with Dr. Pierre Drapeau at the University of Montreal where she has been studying the development and organization of spinal circuits in the embryonic zebrafish. She will be starting a post-doc at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich with Dr. Ruben Portugues this spring where she will explore sensorimotor circuits in the zebrafish with whole-brain calcium imaging.

Leena A IbrahimLeena A. Ibrahim

Leena Ali Ibrahim graduated from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India with a Master’s degree in Life Sciences. She is currently a neuroscience graduate student at the University of Southern California. She studies auditory-visual interactions in the mouse visual cortex V1. Her future research interests include exploring how different brain regions develop and achieve their specific functions.



Mona SobhaniMona Sobhani

Mona graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2006 with a B.S. in Physiology and Neuroscience.  In 2013, she completed her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, where she studied the relationship between psychopathic traits and a fronto-amygdala neural circuit in a community population.  During graduate school, she became interested in the legal implications of neuroscientific findings.  She is currently working as a Law and Neuroscience post-doctoral researcher at Vanderbilt University.


RAZ Rebecca A. ZarateRAZ: Rebecca A. Zarate

After Raz graduated with a BS in Biology and Psychology then an MA in Clinical Psychology, one night she asked, “What is consciousness?”  And the search continues.  Currently, she works as an ABA therapist with children on the autism spectrum and is an adjunct lecturer for a small university geared towards military veterans. In her spare time she is a researcher on the cusp of initiating a collaborative research project with the Dell Children’s Hospital and the University of Texas at Austin.  She is working towards elucidating the causes and functions of self-stimulatory behaviors in children with autism by melding applied behavioral analysis (ABA) and computational neuroscience techniques (EEG).  In her extra spare time she maintains a website fusing science and art,, @Ms_RAZarate

Ryan T Jones Knowing NeuronsRyan T. Jones

Ryan received his Ph.D. in Neurobiology from UCLA in 2014. His dissertation research focused on investigating the neural mechanisms of acquired epilepsies and pathological neural network reorganization. More broadly, Ryan is interested in the emergent properties of neural microcircuits, which allow for high level neural computation, behavior, learning and consciousness. Ryan is now a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF and is studying genetic mechanisms of synaptic homeostasis. In his (rare) free time, Ryan enjoys photography, cooking, mountain biking and backpacking.

Lexie ThorpeLexie Thorpe

Lexie developed an interest in neuroscience whilst studying for her BSc in Psychology at Durham University, England, which she completed in 2013.  Currently working as a Psychology Research Assistant in the Health Service, Lexie will begin a Master’s programme at the same University in the autumn, and hopes to combine her research interests in Psychopathology with her fascination with cognitive neuroscience.



Ray Xiong Knowing NeuronsXiaorui “Ray” Xiong

Ray started reading neuroscience books in his College of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China. Fascinated by learning and memory research, Ray joined a lab studying how different drugs affect learning and memory in the hippocampus. His continued passion for neuroscience brought him to the Neuroscience PhD program at the University of Southern California in 2008, where he is working to dissect the brain circuits of hearing, with the hope of understanding his love of eclectic music at a higher level. He loves to travel and take photos.


Ciara MartinCiara Martin

Ciara Martin is a 2006 graduate of the University of California, Davis,where she received her B.S. in Environmental Toxicology.  After graduating, Ciara worked for two years at UC Davis as an Air Quality technician, helping to monitor visibility in national parks and protected areas.  Ciara joined the Interdepartmental Molecular Toxicology Ph.D. program at UCLA 2009 and after her first year of rotations joined the lab of Dr. David Krantz.  She is currently investigating neurotoxic mechanisms of actions for pesticides linked to higher incidence Parkinson’s disease using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, commonly known as the fruit fly.  Using live-imaging techniques, her work focuses on how pesticide exposure alters neuronal health and synaptic activity.

Brian LeungBrian Leung

Brian graduated from Drexel University in 2011 with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Biology.  His passion for neuroscience came during his senior year when he started to venture off course from the canonical chemistry courses and took classes in neurobiology and systems neuroscience.  After graduation, he worked as an Emergency Medical Technician, Lab Technician and AP Bio/Chemistry tutor.  He is now working on his graduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, where he studies the co-dependent role of the immune and central nervous system in Alzheimer’s disease.

Nick GoedenNick Goeden

Nick received his B.S. in Biology from Caltech in 2009, after which he joined Pat Levitt’s lab at the University of Southern California as technical staff to work on the development of the Ex-Vivo Placental Perfusion System with Dr. Alexandre Bonnin.  In 2012, he joined Dr. Bonnin’s newly founded laboratory as a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at USC, pursuing a PhD.  His current research investigates the role of the placenta in the developmental programming of mental disorders.  Through the use of their novel perfusion system, he investigates how disruption of tryptophan metabolic flux through the placenta modulates neurodevelopment in the fetus, and ultimately contributes to the onset of mental disorders in the offspring.

Ryan Kast

Ryan earned his B.A. in Biology from the University of San Diego in 2011.  His earliest research focused on the evolution and development of the nematode nervous system.  Since finishing his bachelor’s degree, Ryan has studied a wide range of neuroscience topics including the molecular mechanisms of Huntington’s Disease, recovery from spinal cord injury, experience-dependent plasticity, and the transcriptional regulation of neurodevelopmental disorder risk genes.  His primary scientific interests include mammalian forebrain development and evolution, and the molecular underpinnings of psychiatric disorders.

Shelly FanShelly Fan

Shelly Xuelai Fan is a PhD Candidate in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia, where she studies protein degradation in neurodegenerative diseases.  She also has a special interest in adult neurogenesis.  She is an aspiring science writer with an insatiable obsession with the brain.  She mulls over neuroscience, microbiomes and nutrition over at Neurorexia (  Follow on twitter @ShellyFan.


Don A. DaviesDon A. Davies

Don graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a BA in Psychology examining learning and memory in humans.  After graduating with a psychology degree, he wanted to examine the molecular mechanisms of learning and memory.  He joined a physiology laboratory at the University of Saskatchewan for his graduate degree, where he examines how learning and memory is enhanced or disrupted with pharmacology in rats.


2013 contributors:

Steven WalstonSteven Walston

Steven’s interest in the visual system and neuroscience in general stems from his time in high school exploring optical illusions and his realization of our visual field’s “blind spots.”  He fostered this interest by joining visual neuroscience research labs during is time at Vanderbilt University, from which he earned a B.E. in Biomedical Engineering in 2010.  Later that year, he enrolled in the Biomedical Engineering PhD program at the University of Southern California where he is currently investigating retinal stimulation strategies that may help improve the performance of retinal prostheses.

Sushmitha Gururaj Knowing NeuronsSushmitha Gururaj

Sushmitha’s first stint with Neuroscience was as a Biotechnology undergraduate at the B.M.S College of Engineering, Bangalore, attempting to identify novel biomarkers for Autism. Hooked to the wondrous workings of the brain since the time, she has successfully completed a Masters in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at USC, where her project focused on the purinergic P2X7 receptor as a mediator of ethanol-induced neuroinflammation in mice models of acute and chronic ethanol abuse. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology at SUNY at Buffalo, studying the regulation of sodium-activated potassium channels in the dorsal root ganglion and their role in neuropathic pain using animal models.

MichaelCondroMichael C. Condro

Michael Condro became interested in neuroscience when taking neurobiology and behavior courses in at Cornell University, where he received his BS in 2005. He joined the Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology Ph.D. program at UCLA, and recently received his doctorate. His graduate work related to the neurogenetic basis of learned vocalizations in zebra finches and how it relates to human speech. His research focused on the expression of an autism susceptibility gene in the songbird brain.


Steven J MahonSteven J. Mahon

Steven graduated Southern Illinois University in 2007 with a BS in biological sciences.  During that time he was involved in neuroscience research under the guidance of Dr. Peter Patrylo and helped study the effects of cortical malformations in epilepsy and alterations in neuronal networks during the aging process.  Steven then went on to medical school at Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and graduated in 2011.  He is currently in his 3rd year as an Emergency Medicine resident and can be found working in the emergency departments throughout the Chicagoland area and northern Indiana.

ElizaBaconEliza Bacon

Eliza received her B.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of Riverside in 2009. It was not until her last quarter before graduating, did she became fascinated with neuroscience. After graduating, Eliza began working at Zymo Research as a research associate in Irvine, California where she fell in love with the new and exciting field of epigenetics. Now, Eliza is pursuing her graduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, where she studies the epigenetic and pathological basis for age-related changes in the response to estrogen in the developing and injured brain.


Navya S. Davuluri

Navya graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) with a BS in Bioinformatics. After graduating from UCSC, she spent a year at NASA Ames research center developing tools to predict structures of novel proteins that could be utilized in developing biofuels. Her fascination with the visual system began with a summer research program at University of California in a lab working on developing a retinal prosthesis. She joined the Biomedical Engineering graduate program at University of Southern California in the fall of 2008. She currently works addressing clinical issues faced by retinal prosthesis patients and on improving the efficiency of the prosthesis.

Juan Velasquez

Juan comes from the University of San Diego, where a summer research experience transformed and further defined his lofty aspirations of impacting human health and quality of life.  Before graduating in 2010, he focused on molecular genetic studies of genes essential for nervous system development in C. elegans.  Juan continued his newfound passion for research at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where he worked in the design and production of viruses at the Gene Transfer Targeting and Therapeutics Core.  He joined the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Southern California in 2011.  He currently studies maternal-fetal interactions, the effects of antidepressant drug use during pregnancy on fetal brain development and physiology, as well as finding new ways to make these drugs safer for both mother and fetus.

2012 contributors:

Sungshin KimSungshin Kim

Sungshin graduated from Seoul National University in Korea with BS degrees of chemical and electrical engineering.  After earning a MS and PhD degrees from Duke University and University of Southern California and visiting scholar at ATR in Japan and Max Planck Institute in Germany, he joined University of Chicago as a postdoctoral scholar this year.  His research interest is broad, including motor control & learning, model-based fMRI, machine learning, reinforcement learning, robotics, and brain-machine interface (BMI).  In U of Chicago, he is leading a project with Dr. Sliman Bensmaia, developing sensory neuroprosthesis for more advanced BMI.  In his leisure time, he enjoys playing the piano as a big fan of Chopin, commenting Korean politics and talking about Christianity.