Darshan Sapkota, PhD
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 was 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.
Jiayang Chen was a graduate student in Molecular and Cell Biology program. And Wiki is his secret English name that only several people know about. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at Fudan University, China. Before coming to WashU, he worked as research assistant to investigate brainstem synaptic function and visual system development in neurological disorders. In the Dougherty Lab, he has continued pursuing his interest in studying neurodevelopmental disorders, especially autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Other dreams (hobbies?) outside the lab: becoming a marine mammal zoologist, winning badminton Olympic gold medal, being recognized as a professional photographer, and traveling around the world.
Kayla Nygaard, PhD
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 then settled into life as a Molecular Genetics and Genomics graduate student and quite liked 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 was 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.
Leah was a current undergraduate at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. She majored 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 was an undergraduate student at WashU majoring in Neuroscience and double minoring in Children’s Studies and Spanish. She worked 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
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Collaborating Researcher
Elena was 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 was 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 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. She was excited to switch gears and dive into the realm of astrocytes and was genetically characterizing astrocyte subtypes to study their roles in neuronal circuits. When not in the lab Francesca was 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 was 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.
Bernie Mulvey, PhD
Bernie was 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 was 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.”
Michael was 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 could 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!
Joelle was a first year student at Washington University at the College of Arts and Sciences. She had not yet decided on a major, but is considering neuroscience and statistics. In the lab, her focused on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Outside the lab, Joelle swims butterfly on the WashU varsity swim team and enjoys cooking and working out.