• Ute Hochgeschwender
    Ute Hochgeschwender (PI):
    Ute grew up in Germany. Her university education was in medicine (MD) and philosophy (MA), which she combined into a long-term interest in studying the brain. Probing ​this subject from different approaches and angles over the years, she is currently studying the role of neuronal activity in generating and alleviating neurological and psychiatric conditions.
  • Mansi Prakash
    Mansi Prakash, Ph.D. (W.M. Keck Foundation Fellow):
    Mansi grew up in New Delhi, India. She got her undergraduate education at the University of Delhi, majoring in Instrumentation, and a Masters education at Jiwaji University, majoring in Biotechnology. For her Ph.D. studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, she studied cell migration signaling, then worked as a postdoctoral fellow trainee at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. She is currently involved in bioluminescence-driven optogenetics for investigating functional synaptic communication.
  • Andreas Björefeldt
    Andreas Björefeldt, Ph.D. (Visiting Scientist):
    Andreas grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden, and received his PhD from the University of Gothenburg where he studied neuronal excitability and neuromodulation in cortical neurons. He is currently involved in testing the performance of bioluminescent effectors and reporters developed in the lab, using whole cell patch clamp recordings. Andreas is interested in the role of cortical interneuron subtypes in information processing and memory functions.
  • Emmanuel Crespo
    Emmanuel Crespo (Graduate Student):
    Emmanuel grew up in North Bergen, New Jersey. He received his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Neuroscience from Drew University, Madison, NJ. He is focusing on driving non-ion-exchanging optical sensors with bioluminescence.
  • Rachel Schumaker
    Rachel Schumaker (Graduate Student):
    Rachel grew up in Hopkins, Michigan. She received her Bachelor degree in Biochemistry from CMU and is currently getting her Masters in the Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology program. Her research in the lab is focused on molecular engineering of luciferase-driven tools.
  • Rachel Schumaker
    Griffin Kendziorski (Graduate Student):
    Griffin grew up in Midland, Michigan. He received his Bachelors of Science majoring in Biomedical Sciences and Neuroscience from Central Michigan University. Griffin is currently working on a Masters in Neuroscience, focusing on using light-activated channels as a method of retaining neural activity in downstream spinal motor neurons following a spinal cord injury.
  • Kathleen Riselay
    Kathleen Riselay (Research Assistant):
    Kathleen grew up in Bay City, Michigan. She received a BSN and a Bachelor in Biology from Saginaw Valley State University, Michigan. Her many activities in the lab include molecular biology, cell culture, and animal research.
  • Lateef Shafau
    Lateef Shafau (Undergraduate Student):
    Lateef grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He is currently a sophomore at CMU, majoring in Biomedical Sciences. He is involved in using luminopsins as a therapeutic method to stimulate spinal cord recovery after injury.
  • Madison Waddell
    Madison Waddell (Undergraduate Student):
    Madison grew up in Howell, Michigan. She is a pre-med student studying Neuroscience and Philosophy, currently in her second year. Her research in the lab is focused on examining how neural activity during early neonatal development can affect behavior as an adult.


  • Yuvraj Bhagat, CMU medical student (Summer 2018, Summer 2019)
  • Akash Pal, CMU graduate student (2015-2019)
  • William Medendorp, CMU graduate student (2015-2019)
  • Eric Petersen, CMU graduate student (2015-2019)
  • Dylan Johnstron, CMU undergraduate student (2017-2019)
  • Suneeti Dash, CMU undergraduate student (2017-2018)
  • Guillermo Obregon, CMU medical student (2017-2018)
  • Jessica Zenchak, research assistant (2017-2018)
  • Robert D’Annunzio, research assistant (2017-2018)
  • Martina Provenzano, Master’s student, University of Milan, Italy (2017-2018)
  • Tariq Brown, CMU undergraduate student (2015-2018)
  • Erik Sharkey, CMU undergraduate student (2017)
  • Alexandra Peña, CMU undergraduate student (2017)
  • ​Andrea De Marco, Master’s student, University of Milan, Italy (Summer 2017)
  • Rebekah Ridgell, CMU undergraduate student (2017)
  • Brandon Palmateer, CMU undergraduate student (2015 – 2017)
  • Paulina Otero, CMU undergraduate student (2015 – 2017)
  • Reina Heckburn, CMU medical student (Summer 2016)
  • Hannah Brinkman, CMU undergraduate student (Spring 2016)
  • Nicolai Dorka, undergraduate student, University of Braunschweig, Germany (DAAD RISE fellow Summer 2015)
  • Lina-Marie Wagner, undergraduate student, Free University of Berlin, Germany (DAAD RISE fellow Summer 2015)
  • Nicholas Scott, CMU medical student (Summer 2015)
  • MacKenzie Burger, CMU medical student (Summer 2015)
  • Alex Myers, CMU undergraduate student (Spring 2015/Summer 2015) ​