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Chloe Burns
University of West of England
UWE/VCU Partnership Program

Chloe is an exchange student from the University of the West of England in the UK, currently studying for her BSc(Hons) in Biomedical Science.


During her time in the Neigh Lab, Chloe worked on projects that investigated the effects of stress and diet on the brain and behavior. "The time I spent here has given me a passion for neuroscience and I hope to continue to study this."


Outside of the lab Chloe enjoys cooking, baking, reading and spending time with friends.

Devin Evans

B.S., Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU IMSD Program
Jacqueline Ninkundiye

Thomas Nelson Community College Associates Program
Virginia Commonwealth University Bridges to Baccalaureate Research Program

Devin is working towards his Bachelor of Science in Biology

Outside of the lab, Devin enjoys cardio at the gym, reading books and comics, hanging with friends and family, travel, and performing cursive calligraphy.

Deepika Mukhara
B.S., Virginia Commonwealth University, 2018
Charlie Salome-Sanchez
VCU Bachelors of Science Program
B.S., Virginia Commonwealth University, 2018

Deepika is an Undergraduate Biology and Psychology Major, with a minor in Chemistry and Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

She is currently working to understand sexual dimorphism in stress responses. In the future, she is interested in identifying the role stress plays in the development of depression in individuals with and without a genetic propensity for the disorder. She hopes to further research the relationship between depressive disorder and fight or flight response. 

Outside of work, Deepika enjoys writing poetry, watching Ted talks, working out, and psych thrillers.

7Kloster, Alix.JPG
Alix Kloster 
B.A., Sewanee: The University of the South 
M.S., Virginia Commonwealth University

Charlie joined the lab as an undergraduate student studying Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University and graduated in May of 2018.  


He is interested in learning how stress effects the neurological activities of the brain.


In his free time, Charlie  enjoys running, spending time with friends, listening to music, and outdoor activities.

Imogen Targett
University of West of England 
 UWE/VCU Partnership Program 

Alix is interested in how environmental factors, such as diet, impact behavior and drive changes in synaptic mitochondrial function.


Following her time in the lab Alix will be working towards her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at Virginia Commonwealth University and is looking forward to integrating her experience within the Neigh Lab with new endeavors in the dental school. 

In her free time, Alix enjoys cooking, exercising, spending time with her husband and two cats, and watching reality television. 

Imogen is an undergraduate student exchange from The University of the West of England (UWE), UK studying Biology.

Imogen’s research aims to assess the sex-specific effects of neuroinflammation and different stressors such as chronic adolescent stress and diet-induced stress on cognition in rodents.

Outside of the lab, Imogen enjoys working out at the gym and attending exercise classes. She also enjoys exploring new places, since being in the USA her favourite place she has visited so far is Chicago.

Dr. Sydney Rowson

Georgia Institute of Technology 2012
Emory Molecular and Systems Pharmacology PhD 2018

Shifting her focus to global health, Anum now works as an international research intern at the campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. 


Her personal interests include drawing, painting, reading, and going on spontaneous adventures.

PhD in Molecular & Systems Pharmacology, matriculated 2013

Dr. Rowson is currently a post doctoral fellow at The Rockefeller University.

Sydney's graduate work focused on sex differences in the stress response, and determining how sex impacts the regulation of the glucocorticoid receptor after chronic adolescent stress. 

Maria Alexis Bent
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington 2014
VCU PREP Scholar 2018
Current VCU Graduate Student
Dr. Mandakh Bekhbat
Vassar College 2013
Emory Neuroscience PhD  2018

Maria graduated with a degree in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. There she spent time in the lab studying the effect of pollutants on the endocrine system of fish.

 At the Neigh lab she studied the effects of chronic adolescent stress on the hippocampus and behavioral memory recognition.

She completed the VCU PREP program in 2018 and then matriculated as a VCU graduate student. 

Arti Alagappan

B.S., Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2016
VCU Medical Student

PhD in Neuroscience, matriculated 2013

Dr. Bekhbat is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University.


Mandy's PhD research focused on understanding how neuroinflammation mediates the effects of chronic adolescent stress on affective disorders in adulthood.


In her free time, she enjoys reading literature and listening to music.

Laurel Kovalchick

B.S., Virginia Commonwealth University, 2018
VCU Medical Student

VCU MD Student conducting summer research

Arti graduated with a degree in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Psychology. She is interested in the role of fructose consumption in adolescence and its impact on the brain and cognitive performance. 

Arti enjoys exploring new places, cooking, dancing, and watching the sunrise.   

Laurel completed her undergraduate training as a Biomedical Engineering major with a minor in Chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work in the Neigh lab focused on how environmental variables and adolescent life experiences impact mental health and the HPA axis during adulthood.

She matriculated to VCU's medical school in 2018. 

Rockelle Guthrie
Indiana University 2016
VCU PREP Scholar
Fariya Ali
University of Miami Medical School

Rockelle earned her bachelors in Microbiology from Indiana University where she worked part time as a student research assistant studying mechanisms of evolution, population genetics and genomics.


Her research interests include exploring the impact of microbial flora on mental health and devising methods to understand the mechanisms through which non-pathogenic organisms interact with the HPA axis.  Rockelle began a PhD program at UCLA in Fall 2017.

Fariya is a 4th year medical student at the University of Miami interested in pursuing a career in Psychiatry. She was the first member of the Neigh Lab at VCU and completed an externship with Dr. Neigh. While in the Neigh Lab, she examined sex differences in hippocampal gene expression following chronic adolescent stress. She also studied the link between PTSD and autoimmune diseases with an interest in treatment options that could potentially target both chronic conditions effectively.

Folasade Ilori
Virginia Commonwealth University 2016
Apoorva Gangavelli
Emory University 2018

Folasade completed her BA in Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is interested in the effects of stress on the physiology of the body as well as the impact of stress on behavior and is building her resume before moving on to graduate school. 

Apoorva joined the Neigh lab in 2015; her main project involved studying the effects of stress on neuroinflammation in HIV-1 transgenic adolescent rats with the assistance of Constance Shreckengost.

Apoorva continued her studies at Emory University and relocated to the laboratory of Dr. Shannon Gourley after the Neigh Lab moved to VCU.

Jillybeth Burgado
Emory University 2015
Anisha Kalidindi
Emory University 2016

Jilly studied Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology as well as Religion.   As part of the Neigh Lab and the SIRE and NET/work programs, Jilly's primary project involved studying the effects of a high fructose diet and chronic stress in adolescent and adult rats under the guidance of Constance Shreckengost. Her interests included investigating the effects of different stressors on both behavior and the molecular makeup of the brain and her work in the Neigh lab augmented these interests.  Jilly completed an Honors Thesis in the Neigh Lab and graduated with highest honors from Emory.  


Jilly joined the workforce at the CDC after graduation and will pursue a PhD in Neuroscience at UCSD starting in Fall 2018.

Anisha completed a bachelor of science in Biology from Emory in the spring of 2016.  Anisha started working in the Neigh lab as a NET/work fellow in the summer of 2014.  Her research focused on mechanism of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and its co-chaperones such as FKBP5, FKBP4, and PPID in the brain. Specifically, Anisha investigated the expression of GR and its co-chaperones in rodent hippocampal and prefrontal cortex tissue.  


Anisha is pursuing her PhD at The Ohio State University.

Sean D Kelly
UNC Wilmington 2010
Danielle McFarlane
Emory University 2016

Lead Research Specialist; Joined the lab in 2010


In addition to being a master of all things, Sean's official projects in the lab focused on how chronic adolescent stress and subsequent modifications to the glucocorticoid receptor and co-chaperone FKBP5 facilitated stress-related disorders.


Sean joined the research team of Dr. Malu Tansey at Emory University when the Neigh Lab relocated to Richmond.

Danielle is currently a senior at Emory University majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. She worked with the Neigh Lab through the SIRE program.  Within the lab, Danielle's main research involved studying the effects of a high fructose diet and chronic stress in adolescent and adult rats. 

Danielle joined the research team in Dr. Ellen Hess's laboratory after the Neigh Lab relocated to Virginia Commonwealth University. Danielle is now completing a Masters of Science in Medical Sciences at Morehouse School of Medicine

Leo Panagiotakopoulos, MD
University College London, 2005
Carl Zainaldin
Emory University 2015

Pediatric Endocrinology Fellow, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Leo's projects examined the effect of acute and chronic stress on the HPA axis in female adolescent rats; how depression altered  the expression of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and its cochaperones in the hippocampus of Rhesus Macaques; and finally, he measured GR and cochaperones in primate and human PBMCs after exposure to dexamethasone and/or LPS.  

Leo completed his fellowship and is now an Assistant Professor at Emory University.

Carl was an undergraduate at Emory majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. In the Neigh Lab he studied the effects of fructose consumption on the brain. He was broadly interested in the interactions between the nervous and endocrine systems, and how stress and diet can precipitate changes in brain and behavior.

Carl is currently pursuing his MD at the Medical College of Georgia.

Constance Harrell Shreckengost, Ph.D.
Pomona College 2005
Matthew Wu
Emory University 2016

PhD in Neuroscience, matriculated 2009.


As an MD/PhD student in the lab involved in several extracurricular activities, Constance was always busy.  Within the lab, her primary projects examined the consequences of a high fructose diet (HFD) on HPA axis remodeling and affective type behaviors.  In parallel, she studied how a HFD may affect cerebrovasculature and outcomes from middle cerebral artery occlusion.  


Constance completed her PhD training with Dr. Neigh and has returned to the MD portion of the MD/PhD training program at Emory University.

Outside of the lab, Constance can be found running marathons, competeing in Iron Man Competitions and at 6 AM bootcamp. 

Matthew is rising senior at Emory University majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. In the past he has worked at the John Wayne Cancer Institute as a research assistant studying molecular oncology. Matthew studied the impact of chronic stress and HIV on cerebral vasculature during his tenure in the Neigh Lab.


After the Neigh Lab relocated to VCU, Matthew joined the research group of Dr. Malu Tansey.

More Former Members 
Where are they now?


Liana Merrill, PhD:  After a short post-doc with the Neigh Lab, Liana is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurological Sciences at the University of Vermont Burlington. 

Christina Nemeth, PhD:  Received her PhD in Neuroscience under the advisement of Dr. Gretchen Neigh.  She is a current post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University.  


Leah Vaughan:  Summer 2014 SIRE student.  Leah is currently an undergraduate at Washington and Jefferson College. 


Renuka Reddy:  Emory undergraduate researcher 2011-2014; current Clinical Research Interviewer at the Grady Trauma Project,  Atlanta GA.

Darrell Eacret: Emory undergraduate researcher 2013-2014; current Research Technician in the lab of Dr. Seema Bhatnagar at Children’s Hospital Philadelphia.


Kaela Singleton:  Agnes Scott undergradute researcher 2012-2014; current graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience at Georgetown University.


Leah Regenbaum:  Summer 2013 undergraduate researcher.  Leah received her BS from Emory University in 2014 and is currently a medical student at Emory University School of Medicine.  

Nikki Sawyer, PhD:  Received her PhD in Neuroscience from Emory under the advisement of Drs. Andrew Escayg and Gretchen Neigh. Currently, Dr. Sawyer serves as facutly at Clayton State University. 


Emily Castranio:  Summer 2012 SIRE student.  Emily graduated with a BS from Washington and Jefferson College in 2013 and is currently a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh.  

Courtney Sholar: Former undergraduate researcher from Spellman College.  After graduating with an MPH from Emory, she is currently a Behavioral and Biomedical Trainee at the University of South Carolina.


Chase Bourke, PhD:  Received his PhD in Molecular and Systems Pharmacology from Emory under the advisement of Dr. Michael Owens. Currently, Dr. Bourke is a research pharmacologisst at the FDA. 

Emily Hardy:  Former Lead Research Specialist 2007-2012; current Neuroscience Education Program Coordinator at Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.


Sanjana Malviya: Undergraduate researcher 2010-2012; current medical student at the University of Michigan.  


Madiha Raees: Undergraduate researcher  2008-2009; current pediatric resident at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. 


Mallory Shurte:  Undergraduate researcher 2008-2009; current medical student at Louisiana State University School of Medicine.

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