Neuroscience PhD at Wake Forest University at Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University Graduate School » Neuroscience PhD at Wake Forest University

Alex Dakos (2nd Year PhD Student)

I am a second year Doctor of Philosophy student currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Barry Stein who is my co-mentor along with Dr. Benjamin Rowland.  We study multisensory processing, the phenomenon of the brain responding to simultaneous inputs from more than one sense.  This operation can lead to the integration of these inputs, depending on their spatiotemporal properties.  Our primary model for this research is the feline superior colliculus, and we utilize various anatomical, statistical, and engineering techniques in order to understand its mechanisms.  If you wish to contact me for any reason, please send an email to


Dominic Gioia (5th Year PhD Student)

I work in Dr. Brian McCool’s lab focuses on the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying anxiety with a particular focus on the glutamatergic system of the basolateral amygdala. Furthermore, we are interested in how ethanol physical dependence modulates this system to produce withdrawal associated anxiety. I was initially drawn to Wake Forest University due to the programs excellence in obtaining funding for and publishing quality research on substance abuse. I have been happy with my choice and have enjoyed the collaborative nature of the substance abuse core. For any questions please feel free to contact me by email:


chhauserChris Hauser (5th Year PhD Student)

I am a fifth year graduate student in the lab of Emilio Salinas and Terrence Stanford. I investigate the behavioral and neurophysiological correlates of urgent decisions in nonhuman primates and humans using a variety of techniques (modeling neural circuitry, single-unit recordings and statistical analysis of psychophysical results). I was recently selected for a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and I was appointed to the T32 training grant for multisensory integration where I will receive specialized training from multiple faculty within the Neurobiology and Anatomy department.  I chose Wake Forest because of the incredible mentorship I receive not only from my PI’s but also from the other faculty within the department. The degree of camaraderie present within the Neurobiology and Anatomy department is incredible and something I do not imagine I would have received anywhere else. Feel free to contact me with any questions at


rmayhughRhiannon Mayhugh (3rd Year PhD Student)

My name is Rhiannon Mayhugh and I am a 3rd year graduate student rotating in the Laboratory for Complex Brain Networks with Dr. Laurienti.  My current project is using functional brain networks to look at the long-term effects of low and moderate alcohol consumption and how that relates to stress.
The Neuroscience program here at Wake Forest provides a challenging and supportive environment not only among the faculty, but the students as well.  Feel free to contact me with any questions at


Molly McGinnisMolly McGinnis (2nd Year PhD Student)

I am a second year graduate student in Dr. Brian McCool’s lab. My research focuses on understanding the effects of chronic ethanol and withdrawal on basolateral amygdala (BLA) neurotransmission. I use a combination of electrophysiological, molecular, and behavioral techniques to examine the glutamatergic and GABAergic mechanisms that contribute to withdrawal-related anxiety. I am currently supported by a multidisciplinary training grant (T32) to study the biology of alcohol addiction. I chose Wake based on the highly collaborative environment as well as the dedication to student success. Feel free to contact me with any questions at


nethBryan Neth (3rd Year PhD Student)

I am a third year Neuroscience PhD student in the fifth year of the MD/PhD program. I work in the lab of Drs. Suzanne Craft and Laura Baker studying the metabolic pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Plasma/CSF biomarkers and various imaging techniques (MRI, PET) are used in my research. I chose Wake Forest based upon the collaborative nature of the program as well as Winston-Salem being a great place to live. Feel free to contact me with any questions at



Mitchell Riley (5th Year PhD Student)

I’m in my fifth year as a graduate student and in my second year working in Dr. Christos Constantinidis’s laboratory. My main research interests lie in the neural basis of cognitive functions. In Dr. Constantinidis’s lab, I use different neuronal recording methods in order to examine how training in working memory tasks alters the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. If you have any questions about the lab or with Wake Forest, you can contact me at



clip_image001Elaine Shing (3rd Year PhD Student)

Hi everyone! I am an MD/PhD student in my third year of graduate school. I work in Dr. Christian Waugh’s lab studying how positive emotions influence resilience to stress. My current project focuses on the psychological, physiological, and neural correlates of stress and positive coping in caregivers of pediatric cancer patients. I chose Wake Forest for the  interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the Neuroscience program. I also knew that the faculty here would have their students’ best interests at heart and would be great mentors. Feel free to contact me with questions at



Van NestByron Van Nest (6th Year PhD Student)

I am a sixth year graduate student working in Dr. Susan Fahrbach’s Insect Neurobiology Laboratory.  I am currently examining the correlates of synaptic density of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) mushroom body (an arthropod brain region involved in learning and memory) and performance on a challenging, visually oriented task.  Our lab is very interested in the functional consequences of adult brain plasticity; in other words, what does a bigger brain afford an individual?  During my first two years in the Neuroscience Program, I was supported by an NIH Predoctoral Training Grant in the Neurosciences (under Dr. Ronald Oppenheim), and I am now supported by an internal grant from the Center for Molecular Communication and Signaling.


AWagoner_NeuroWebsitePictureAshley Wagoner (5th Year PhD Student)

I’m a fifth year graduate student working in Stephen Walker’s lab at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. I’m interested in the role of the autonomic and enteric nervous systems on GI motility and cardiovascular function in pediatric populations, specifically in children with functional GI disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders. I chose Wake Forest because it provides a very welcoming environment for students from many backgrounds as well as a wide range of research opportunities including addiction, development, and clincial studies. I have also experienced first-hand that the faculty here really care and listen to the needs of the students, which helps create our very collaborative and enriching program. For more information about the Neuroscience program and the surrounding neuroscience community, check out The Neurotransmitter newsletter here! Feel free to contact me with any questions at


Marlena Wosiski-Kuhn (1st Year PhD Student)

I am a third year MD-PhD candidate; having completed the first two years of medical school I am now in my first year of graduate school, pursuing my PhD in Dr. Carol Milligan’s lab. My research involves looking at the potential for inflammatory molecules in human serum to serve as biomarkers for prognosis and targeted therapies in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). I chose Wake Forest’s MD-PhD program because of the collaborative research atmosphere between clinicians and bench researchers. Please feel free to contact me at with any questions about the MD-PhD program or Dr. Milligan’s lab.

ZAIA, AnnaAnna Zaia 
(1st Year PhD Student)

I’m a first year student currently rotating in the lab of Dr. Tao Ma. My rotation project uses Western Blotting techniques to evaluate protein expression in hippocampus of Down Syndrome mice model. I chose Wake Forest because of the faculty research and program curriculum which focus mainly in lab work. Also, I came here because of my wonderful undergraduate experience in 2012, when I worked in Dr. Carol Milligan lab, as an exchange student from Brazil. Feel free to contact me at if you have questions about the program!