Valentin Dragoi, Ph.D., Principal Investigator[CV]
Dr. Dragoi examines how networks of cortical neurons encode information and how the population code influences behavioral decisions in real time. Research in his laboratory combines electrophysiological (multi-electrode recording in restrained and freely moving animals, optical and electrical stimulation), behavioral, and computational methods. He received rigorous training in experimental and theoretical neuroscience. His goals are to understand the neuronal computations and coding principles of cortical circuits and develop new technologies for high-yield neuronal recording of brain activity.
Mircea Chelaru, Ph.D., Research Scientist
I received my B.Sc. in Electrical engineering and my PhD in computer sciences at Polytechnic Institute, Iasi, Romania. I have been a post-doctoral fellow at Duke University and in Univ of Western Ontario. During 2004-2006 and since 2009 I have been a research scientist at Dragoi lab.
Ariana Andrei, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow
Upon completing my maters in neuroscience from McGill University, I moved to Houston for my PhD. My PhD dissertation used optogenetics in non-human primates to study how neuronal populations create sensory perceptions. In 2017, I started my post-doctoral work at the Dragoi lab.
Sunny Nigam, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Color is one of the most important aspects of natural images that we encounter in our everyday lives. It guides perceptions and eventually our actions. My focus is on understanding how higher visual areas like V4 encode color information and how this might be affected by adaptation. Prior to working in the Dragoi lab I went to graduate school in the Physics department at Indiana University, Bloomington where I worked under the supervision of John Beggs. My research involved computing functional connectivity from high density Multi electrode array recordings of in-vitro and in-vivo neural populations.
Russell Milton, PhD Candidate
Samantha Debes, PhD Candidate
I received my BS in Psychology from Syracuse University before moving down to Texas and joining the Dragoi lab. My work in the lab typically uses laminar population recordings and optogenetics to causally test visual circuits and their effects on behavior. I am particularly interested in laminar circuits, the ways in which laminar processing transforms neural signal and how these network dynamics contribute to behavior.
Natasha Kharas, MD/PhD Candidate
My interest in neuroscience started during my undergraduate studies at New York University, where I worked in Eric Klann’s lab studying the molecular mechanisms of Fragile X Syndrome and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. Post-graduation, I worked in Stuart Firestein’s lab at Columbia University studying olfaction. I also worked on neuroscience patents at Philon, Inc. in New York City before moving to Houston, TX to start my MD/PhD program. In the Dragoi lab, my projects evaluate the influence of spontaneous activity in local cortical circuits on behaviors such as perception and sleep.
Yue Yu, Ph.D. Candidate
I received my medical degree at Tianjin Medical University in China. Then I went to UMMC and worked at Wu Zhou and Hong Zhu’s lab to investigate vestibular/auditory functions. Since 2018, I am excited to join Dragoi lab as an adventure to explore neuronal networks.
Melissa Franch, Ph.D. Candidate
After completing a BS in biology and science education at North Carolina State University, I worked as a teacher and research assistant before starting graduate school at UTHealth in 2017. Growing up with a brother who has severe autism promoted my interest in neuroscience. Specifically, I am interested in the field of social neurophysiology and how social computations are carried out in the primate brain. I look forward to investigating this in the Dragoi lab.
Neda Shahidi, PhD
Charles Beaman, MD/PhD
Ali Asadollahi, PhD
Ming Hu, PhD
Jose Fernandez, PhD
Sarah Eagleman, PhD
Marcello Mulas, PhD
Ye Wang, PhD
Bryan Hansen, PhD
Diego Gutnisky, PhD
Bogdan Iliescu, M.D.
Tammy Humbird , Research Assistant
Audrey Nath , Graduate Student
David Quach, Undergraduate Student
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of Neurobiology and Anatomy | The
University of Texas
Medical School at Houston (UTHealth)
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