Lab Graduates

Darshan Sapkota, PhD

Darshan Sapkota, PhD

Assistant Professor

Darshan studied the mechanisms that regulate neuronal differentiation from multipotent progenitors and earned a PhD from the State University of New York, Buffalo. As a postdoc in the lab, he is characterizing different neuronal cell types of the brain based on their translational profiles. Two things thrill him the most: scientific discoveries and Mark Knopfler’s songs. Darshan is now an Assistant Professor at UT Dallas.

Kayla Nygaard, PhD

Kayla Nygaard, PhD

Graduate Student

Kayla hails from small town Minnesota (cue John Mellencamp) where she grew up collecting ladybugs on dandelions and reading books by the light of the moon. She decided to study Biology at Carleton College and, when she wasn’t saving puppies from tornadoes, she spent her summers researching the coloration of lizards and learning how to lasso the little guys out in Colorado. Leaving the lizards behind in 2012, she joined Teach For America and spent the next 4 years trying to cram scientific knowledge into the brains of reluctant children in both Kentucky and Massachusetts. Kayla is now settling into life as a Molecular Genetics and Genomics graduate student and quite likes the opportunities in nearby Forest Park. You might catch her running or playing ultimate frisbee on a warm day when she’s not in lab. While she would love to study the effects of environmental stress on animal behavior through the lens of genetics, she thinks videotaping Nathan’s back-flipping mice is pretty fun too! Kayla also holds the record for longest submitted bio for the lab’s people page.

Rachel Rahn, PhD

Rachel Rahn, PhD

Graduate Student

Rachel is a graduate student in the Neuroscience program, working in the Dougherty and Culver (WUSTL Radiology) labs. She is interested in using functional neuroimaging and behavioral testing in the study of both healthy and disordered development across time in mice. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking, playing board games, and discussing current events.

Bernie Mulvey, PhD

Bernie Mulvey, PhD

Graduate Student

Bernie is an MSTP in the neurosciences graduate program. His broad interests are in cellular mechanisms of disease and treatment in psychiatry, especially within neuromodulatory cell types. His thesis work is focused on regulatory sequences and their variants, and their impact on CNS cell types hypothesized to play roles in psychiatric disease. Bernie is the Grand Overlord of the website, twitter, and all of the one pages on the top-secret, VIP-only lab Wiki. Outside of the lab, he’s a not-so-closeted news, politics, and pharmacology nerd. The closest thing he has to a hobby is reading—favorites include David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” (yes, he’s really read it, and listens to the unabridged audiobook at least yearly) and Mark Z Danielewski’s “The Familiar.”

Leah Zukosky

Leah Zukosky

Undergraduate Researcher

Leah is a current undergraduate at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. She is majoring in neuroscience with a general education concentration in public health and plans to attend medical school in the future. Outside of the lab, Leah enjoys running, exploring Maine, and perfecting her matcha latte recipe.

Dora Tabachnick

Dora Tabachnick

Undergraduate Researcher

Dora is an undergraduate student at WashU majoring in Neuroscience and double minoring in Children’s Studies and Spanish. She is currently working with Susan and Katie and is interested in the behavioral mice studies being conducted in the lab. Dora plans on attending medical school and would like to practice as a surgeon. Outside of the lab, Dora enjoys practicing Tae Kwon do, watching movies and running her club “WashU’s Save a Child’s Heart”.

Elena Minakova, MD, MS

Elena Minakova, MD, MS

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Collaborating Researcher

Elena is a Neonatologist at Saint Louis Children’s Hospital. She has a neuroscience research background and an MS degree with a specialization in Developmental Neurobiology. She is interested in performing mouse autism studies with potential for translational applications. In her free time, she enjoys running, skating, and spending as much time as possible with her one-year-old

Francesca Manzella, PhD

Francesca Manzella, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

Francesca received her PhD from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and M.A. in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has an extensive background in behavioral pharmacology and electrophysiology and previously researched the effects of neuroactive steroids on cognition, sleep, and anesthesia. Now she’s excited to switch gears and dive into the realm of astrocytes and is genetically characterizing astrocyte subtypes to study their roles in neuronal circuits. When not in the lab Francesca is in the kitchen cooking or scoping out the best places to eat in St. Louis. When not daydreaming of food, she’s on her yoga mat or taking walks in Forest Park.

Tomas Lagunas, Jr., PhD

Tomas Lagunas, Jr., PhD

Graduate Student

Tomas is a graduate student in the Molecular Genetics and Genomics program. He double majored as an undergraduate at UC Riverside, obtaining Bachelor’s degrees in Biological Sciences and Chemistry. Before coming to Wash U, he worked in San Diego for a biotech company doing gene editing for trait development in plants. In his free time, he enjoys listening to music, going to concerts, hiking, and hanging out with friends.

Michael Kasper

Michael Kasper

Research Technician

Michael is a research technician in the lab. He completed his undergraduate degree from Case Western. After graduating, he spent two years in Wyoming teaching with a program similar to Teach for America. You can find Michael in lab eating large numbers of donuts and studying post transcriptional MPRAs. Outside of the lab, he likes to read books, rock climb, and canoe!

 Yvette Sol

Yvette Sol

Undergraduate Researcher

Yvette is from New York and is a pre-med student at WashU. She is a sophomore majoring in Biology and double majoring in PNP (philosophy-Neuroscience- Psychology). She joined the lab in summer of 2021. Some of her hobbies outside of the lab are cooking, dancing, watching netflix, and going to concerts.

Joelle Schneiderman

Joelle Schneiderman

Undergraduate Researcher

Joelle is a first year student at Washington University at the College of Arts and Sciences.  She has not yet decided on a major, but is considering neuroscience and statistics.  In the lab, her work focuses on Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Outside the lab, Joelle swims butterfly on the WashU varsity swim team and enjoys cooking and working out.