Posts classified under: Predoctoral Trainees

Karina Keus

As a National Science Foundation funded student, I work on developing novel microscopy techniques to probe multisensory integration in the Drosophila Melanogaster brain. Similar to the mammalian hippocampus, the central complex may serve as a critical indexing and integration site to coordinate spatial navigation. Building off my previous work on the UCLA Miniscope Project, I will refine a new two-photon microscope capable of patterned optogenetic stimulation in fruit flies. I hope to manipulate the neural circuits that coordinate synaptic plasticity in the central complex to reveal how vision, odor, and atmospheric polarized light integrate so that flies may produce complex navigation paths while traversing the earth.

Mentor: Mark Frye, Ph.D.

Samuel Vander Dussen

Sam is a 2nd year Masters student in the Dept. of Bioengineering at UCLA, transitioning to the Ph.D. program. He previously attended Azusa Pacific University where he played collegiate football and received a B.S. in Systems Engineering in 2019. His current research focuses on the system design of  a synchronous behavioral and functional ultrasound imaging platform to acquire information about functional network connectivity changes after traumatic brain injury. His research interests include computational neuroscience, machine learning, and graph theory to understand plasticity and working memory in the whole brain.

Mentor: Neil Harris, Ph.D.

Myra Saraí Larson

I’m interested in how the brain processes reward in both direct and vicarious experiences, and in particular, how these processes may alter one’s neural representations of the environment. My research approach will incorporate recordings of human intracranial activity and physiological markers of arousal as participants either ambulate freely or remain stationary during immersive augmented reality experiences.

Mentor: Nanthia Suthana, Ph.D.

Douglas Vormstein-Schneider

I study the differential contribution of cell-types in the mouse medial prefrontal cortex to the brain’s encoding of task-relevant information during adaptive decision-making. By comparing neural activity from mice with recordings from humans during a similar task, I hope to gain insight into the roles discrete neuron types play during cognitive tasks in humans.

Mentor: Peyman Golshani, M.D., Ph.D.