Neuroscience PhD at Wake Forest University at Wake Forest University

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Olivier Thibault

Graduated with a PhD – 1993 (1st Neuroscience Program Graduate)
Current Position – Associate Professor, Department of Molecular and Biomedical Pharmacology at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – This program was new at Wake Forest when I started my PhD and I felt at home getting a degree in the Neuroscience field. It fit my science focus perfectly and was the main reason why I joined and really liked the program. (Also, being the first to defend had its perks). The professors where new to me and really welcomed me to the program which at that time was still in its infancy.



Edward Schicatano

Graduated with a PhD – 1995
Current Position – Associate Professor, Department of Psychology at Wilkes University
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – I thought that the coursework required did a great job in representing the entire field of Neuroscience. The research expertise of the faculty allowed me to keep current with the field and also learn about the latest innovative techniques used to address the research questions.



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Albert Lo

Graduated with a PhD – 1997
Current Position – Associate Professor of Neurology and Epidemiology at Brown University
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – I thought my experience at WF was invaluable in my professional career. I continue to use the fundamentals that I learned in neuroscience content and methodology on a daily basis even though some of my research is quite varied (from peripheral nerve repair to robot rehabilitation).



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Todd Kirby

Graduated with a PhD – 1998
Current Position – Director, Clinical Development and Medical Science at Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – The curriculum and interdisciplinary nature of the Neuroscience Program provided me with an excellent background and skill set for a career in industry.




Rachna Sinnott

Graduated with a PhD – 1999
Current Position – Director of Foundation & Corporate Relations, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – I appreciated the multidisciplinarity of the neuroscience program, which allowed me to explore multiple area within neuroscience.





Thomas Gould

Graduated with a PhD – 2002
Current Position – Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Nevada School of Medicine
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – I liked the strength in developmental neurobiology that we had when I was a student at WFU. It was a good place to receive training and use that training to interact with other developmental neurobiologists at other institutions.  



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Joshua Grill

Graduated with a PhD – 2004
Current Position – Assistant Professor of Neurology at Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about, and participate in, a diverse array of neuroscience research topics before choosing the laboratory in which I would do my thesis work. I also enjoyed the collegial nature of the program, especially the relationships I forged with my colleagues in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, where my mentor Dr. Riddle had a primary appointment. Lastly, Dr. Riddle and the other members of his laboratory were kind and patient teachers. They and the other program faculty gave me the tools to continue my career in neuroscience.


Robin Stromberg

Robin Stromberg

Graduated with a PhD – 2004
Current Position – Lead Medical Writer at JK Medical Communications
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – Learning to think – and write! – scientifically.






Adam Winseck

Graduated with a PhD – 2004
Current Position – Head, Office of US Medical, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – The training in Neuroscience and Business Administration that I received at Wake Forest University significantly prepared me for a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Not only did this graduate experience provide me with advanced skills in research and analytical thought, but the contemporary approach to career development at WFU offered critical insights into the alternative path I wanted to follow.





Jason Newbern

Graduated with a PhD – 2006
Current Position – Assistant Professor, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – The Ph.D. training program did a fantastic job of bridging the gap between theoretical neuroscience and the actual practice of biomedical research.  I felt very well-prepared to enter established research programs in both industry and academia




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Anna Taylor

Graduated with a PhD – 2006
Current Position – Health Science Administrator, NINDS/NIH
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – Approachable faculty, interest-focused learning, and student camaraderie.





David Gifondorwa

Graduated with a PhD – 2008
Current Position – Research Scientist, Eli Lilly and Company, Laboratory for Experimental Medicine
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – The most enjoyable aspect of my training was the translatability of our research. It was great to know that what we were working on a potential treatment for a debilitating disease. That is the one of the major reasons why I pursued a career in Pharma.



Christina Hugenschmidt

Graduated with a PhD – 2008
Current Position – Assistant Professor in Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – My favorite things about the Neuroscience program were the collegiality of students, faculty, and of course Jody, and the breadth of research opportunities.




Exazevia Logan

Graduated with a PhD – 2008
Current Position – Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, Winston-Salem State University
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – Most fond experience was my ability to interact and study with a diverse group of graduate students in a welcoming and academically rigorous environment.  The small class sizes combined with the team teaching made learning easier and encouraged more personal relationships with the departmental faculty.





Jennifer Mozoli

Graduated with a PhD – 2009
Current Position – Psychology Professor at Warren Wilson College, Asheville, NC
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – I really valued the wide variety of perspectives and approaches that the neuroscience faculty brought to the study of the brain and behavior.  This presented a great opportunity for rotating through several different labs and learning many different techniques and skills.



Eric Hudgins

Eric Hudgins

Graduated with a PhD – 2010
Current Position – Neurological Surgery Resident at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – The Neuroscience Program at Wake is a richly collaborative and intellectual environment to freely explore research interests and hone investigative skills.



Erik Oleson

Erik Oleson

Graduated with a PhD – 2010
Current Position – Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Colorado Denver
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – I liked that the Neuroscience program provided a focused Neuroscience core curriculum, yet provided you the opportunity to work with laboratories from different departments.



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Elizabeth Burnett

Graduated with a PhD – 2012
Current Position – Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs at the Medical University of South Carolina
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – Wake’s Neuroscience Graduate Program is  recognized for its expertise in addiction, neuroplasticity and neurodevelopmental disorders among other things. The program stands out from many others in its highly collaborative nature, which means that students’ projects frequently crossover multiple laboratories and as a result, ease students into an existing and extensive network of talented faculty in their field of interest.  In my opinion, the greatest strength of the program is the expertise of program faculty in successful grant writing. This coupled with the program’s push for students to write and submit their own F31 predoctoral NRSA (or equivalent) has resulted in a remarkable success rate of funded predoctoral grants. My own experience in grant writing and success in obtaining funding as a grad student in the program has been instrumental in advancing my career in academia.



Walter Wiggins

Graduated with a PhD – 2012
Current Position – Resident Physician, Diagnostic Radiology, Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – The flexibility of the Neuroscience Program is one of its greatest strengths. You can really tailor everything to your own needs and interests, whether it be a specific course offering or a collaboration with a research team in another department.




Erin Calipari

Graduated with a PhD – 2013
Current Position – Postdoctoral Fellow, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – The Neuroscience Ph.D. program is an exceptional place for graduate training. My work during both my Ph.D. and Postdoctoral tenure has focused on the neurochemical mechanisms of addiction.  The research at Wake Forest approaches drug abuse in a way that allows for both the understanding of the complex mechanisms governing motivated behaviors as well as the “big picture” translational value of the work. Because of this, I felt particularly well-prepared to enter my postdoctoral lab and look forward to starting my own academic research program in the future. The program is among the most collaborative that I have seen and I believe it provides a unique and supportive environment for graduate training.



Lindsey Rau

Graduated with a PhD – 2013
Current Position – Postdoctoral Fellowship, KeraNetics, LLC; Study Director, PreClinical Research Services, Inc.
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – The Neuroscience Graduate Program prepared me to be an extremely interdisciplinary scientist by allowing me to work in various laboratories using many techniques and several animal models, and also by exposure to a wide range of research topics across the Program through student and faculty talks.  One of the most important aspects of preparation for my career was delivering frequent department seminar talks.  At the time this was not so glamorous, but the experiences I gained in scientific communication in the Neuroscience Program are utterly invaluable.  Involvement in extracurricular activities such as the Brain Awareness Council and The Neurotransmitter newsletter also greatly influenced my communication capabilities.  The Program’s interdisciplinary structure also allowed me to form a large network of colleagues, which has also proved to be a vital asset in my career development.  The thing I liked best about the Program was the collective scientific excitement and desire for research progression among students and faculty, alike.  It was always like a big science family and I will always have strong connections to the Neuroscience Program.


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Alexander Birbrair

Graduated with a PhD – 2014
Current Position – Research Fellow, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – This program and its professors, in special my mentor Dr. Osvaldo Delbono, opened for me the door into the excitement of science. I learned how enjoyable may be the academic career.





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Mary Jane Skelly

Graduated with a PhD – 2015
Current Position – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Columbia University Medical Center
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – I had an excellent experience as a graduate student at Wake Forest. The program is highly invested in the success of its graduates, and devotes significant resources toward supporting students and promoting professional development. The highly collaborative and collegial environment at Wake provided me with ample opportunities to interact with faculty and students in other labs, and these interactions resulted in professional relationships that significantly enriched my graduate training. Additionally, the Neuroscience Graduate Program has an excellent funding record, with many students obtaining individual grant support during their studies. My success in obtaining an NRSA was due in large part to the reputation of my mentor and the program as a whole, and this award has significantly advanced my career as a junior scientist.



Cody Siciliano

Graduated with a PhD – 2015
Current Position Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Comments about the Neuroscience Program – The training I received in the Neuroscience program was exceptional.  The faculty at Wake Forest truly care about the students training, and the advice and guidance that I received from my mentor as well as many other faculty members in the department has fully prepared me for a successful career in neuroscience.  Not only did curriculum and lab work prepare me for interviews, conference talks, manuscript and grant writing, the intellectual environment has shaped the conceptual basis of my scientific approach and formed the basis of my future research interests. Further, the faculty continue to support and provide guidance even after I have graduated and moved on to a postdoctoral position.  Together, the Neuroscience Program is a supportive, collaborative environment, and a great place to learn science.