Neuroscience PhD at Wake Forest University at Wake Forest University

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

galberto1Greg Alberto (4th Year PhD Student)

I am in my fourth year in Dr. Dwayne Godwin’s lab and my sixth year overall in the MD/PhD program. I work on problems related neural circuit hyperexcitability and neuroimaging. Specifically, I am interested in understanding seizure in both epilepsy and related to alcohol withdrawal. I use a variety of techniques including optogenetics, electrophysiology, and magnetoencephalography to tackle all types of questions related to seizure. I came to Wake Forest because it provided me with the opportunity to do high-level and impactful research in an environment that was not so massive as to be impersonal. Because of Wake’s size I am able to seek the support I need and develop interesting collaborations that may not happen elsewhere. I am a NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellow, and was recognized as at the NIDA-NIAA Early Career Investigator Showcase. I have also been invited to speak internationally on the work I’ve done at Wake Forest.


brennaBrenna Beckelman (4th Year PhD Student)

I’m a fourth year PhD student in the lab of Dr. Tao Ma. My research focuses on how deficits in neuronal protein synthesis contribute to the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease. In our lab we use a combination of behavioral paradigms, electrophysiological recordings, biochemical analyses, and transgenic models to understand the molecular mechanisms contributing to dementia and other cognitive syndromes. I decided to attend Wake Forest because of the Neuroscience Program’s diverse range of opportunities for teaching and outreach. Moreover, Winston-Salem is a great, affordable town for graduate students. Feel free to contact me at


Alex Dakos (3rd 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


alanAlan Gerlich (1st Year PhD Student)

I’m a first year graduate student currently going through research rotations. This semester, I am rotating through Dr. Dwayne Godwin’s lab. During my rotation, I  plan on focusing on changes in ion channel excitability in response to chronic alcohol withdrawal, and the connected seizures that arise from such activity. I also would like to look at pharmacological intervention of ion channel function in order to determine the effects on the cellular level. I like the program at Wake Forest due to its supportive and collaborative approach, as well as the living environment in Winston-Salem. Please feel free to contact me with questions at



Dominic Gioia (6th 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 (6th 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


headshotNicole Kasica (1st Year PhD Student)

I am a first-year PhD student I the Neuroscience Program. I am rotating in the Hughes/Deep lab my first semester and in Dr. Raab-Graham’s lab next semester. I am interested in pursuing research in degenerative disease, but I have not decided on my specific field just yet. I decided to attend Wake Forest University because of the close-knit community and the friendliness of everyone I encountered. Feel free to contact me with any questions at



photo-naMadelyn Mauterer (2nd Year PhD Student)

I’m a second year graduate student working in Sara Jones’s lab. My area of interest is the molecular mechanisms underlying drug and alcohol addiction. I use a combination of behavioral approaches as well as voltammetry and biochemical analyses to better understand how cocaine and alcohol affect limbic regions like the nucleus accumbens and basolateral amygdala. I chose to come to Wake Forest because of the nationally recognized addiction research program and the collaborative atmosphere between labs. Feel free to contact me with any questions


rmayhughRhiannon Mayhugh (4th Year PhD Student)

I am a 4th year graduate student working in the Laboratory for Complex Brain Networks with Dr. Laurienti.  I am investigating neural mechanisms of vulnerability to future addiction by assessing changes in brain functioning during stress and alcohol abstinence in daily, moderate-heavy social drinkers.  As the neurocircuitry of addiction has been shown to involve dynamically interconnected systems, I use whole brain network analysis of functional imaging to capture these interactions.  The Neuroscience program at Wake Forest provides a challenging and supportive environment not only among the faculty, but students as well. Feel free to contact me with any questions (


Molly McGinnisMolly McGinnis (3rd Year PhD Student)

I am a third year graduate student in Dr. Brian McCool’s lab. My research focuses on examining the role of projections from the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) to the basolateral amygdala (BLA) following chronic intermittent ethanol exposure and withdrawal. I use electrophysiology along with a combination of opto- and chemo-genetics to characterize these specific inputs and their role in dependence-related behaviors such as withdrawal-included anxiety. I am currently supported by the Alcohol Training Program which is a multidisciplinary training grant funded by the NIAAA to study the biology of alcohol addiction. I value Wake for its highly collaborative environment, state-of-the-art addiction research, and dedication to student success. Feel free to contact me with any questions at


neyland-blake-0816gs-4webBlake Neyland (1st Year PhD Student)

I’m a first year PhD student currently rotating in the lab of Dr. Delbono. In the Spring, I plan to rotate with Dr. Raab-Graham. I plan to focus my reseach on neurodegenerative disease, particularly with Alzheimer’s disease, and the mechanisms of demyelination. I hope to translate my work into a treatment or cure. I decided to attend Wake Forest due to the program’s high ranking nationally and its strong placement of alumni within both industry and academic settings. The opportunity to also pursue my MBA, in the joint PhD-MBA program, to better prepare myself for the workforce was also a big plus for me. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at


oor-emily-0816gs-4webEmily Oor (1st Year PhD Student)

I am a first year graduate student in the Neuroscience PhD program.  For my first semester, I am rotating in the lab of Emilio Salinas and Terrence Stanford. During this rotation, I will be focusing on protocols involved in primate research and the neurophysiology of single cells in response to different saccade provoking tasks in the areas of LIP and the superior colliculus.  I chose to attend Wake Forest due to the incredibly supportive and collaborative mentorship and atmosphere present within the department of Neuroscience. Feel free to contact me with questions at


Mitchell Riley (6th 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



erogersEmily Rogers (1st Year PhD Student)

Hi, my name is Emily Rogers and I am a first year PhD student in the lab of Dr. Dwayne Godwin and research fellow of the Department of the Neurology. My current research involves incorporating measures of eye movements with diagnostic neuroimaging techniques in order to identify potential biomarkers of veterans who have experienced mild traumatic brain injury. I am also working on a non-human primate model of optogenetics and exploring it with magnetoencephalography (MEG). My favorite thing about this program is the ability to work both in basic science and clinical research. If you would like to contact me, my email is


marlenaMarlena Wosiski-Kuhn (2nd Year PhD Student)

I am a third year MD-PhD candidate; I have completed the first two years of medical school and am in my second year of graduate school, pursuing my PhD in Dr. Carol Milligan’s lab. My research involves looking at the potential for inflammatory molecules to serve as prognostic biomarkers 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 basic science researchers. Please feel free to contact me at with any questions about the MD-PhD program or Dr. Milligan’s lab.

anna-c-zaia-rodriguesAnna Zaia 
(2nd Year PhD Student)

I’m a second year PhD student in Dr. Osvaldo Delbono’s lab. My project focuses in sympathetic nervous system innervation of skeletal muscle. Currently, I’m studying the autophagy and UPS (ubiquitin-proteasome system) pathways and acetylcholine receptors expression in tibialis anterior and gastrocnemius muscles. 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 if you have any questions: