Principal Investigator


Sarah Heilbronner


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Sarah Heilbronner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota. She is interested in what the brain's wiring diagram can tell us about its function.

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Lab Manager


Tanya Casta


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Tanya Casta is a Researcher 3 who is writing her bio

Postdoctoral Fellow

Mark Grier

Undergraduate Students


Max Griesgraber


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Max Griesgraber is a senior studying neuroscience at the University of Saint Thomas. His main field of interest is the neurological basis of mood disorders. Outside of academia Max enjoys playing guitar and working on cars in his free time.



Amanda Hassan


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Amera Hassan


Amera Hassan photo

Amera Hassan is a "freshman, sophomore, or junior, depending on how you look at it". She is currently a physiology major in the BA/MD JAS program.



Pooja Kandikonda

Pooja Kandikonda is an undergraduate, at the University of Minnesota, majoring in neuroscience with a minor in business management. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a PhD in neuroscience. 



Tenzin Sonam


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Tenzin Sonam is an undergraduate majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Public Health.  When not in lab, she enjoys reading and learning more about science, especially Ecology and Organic Chemistry, playing badminton, tutoring students in the Minneapolis-St. Paul public schools, and obsessing over the latest skincare. After graduation, she hopes to focus her studies around Dermatology.



Lensa Toka




Tony Yao

Graduate students


Adriana Cushnie


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Adriana Cushnie, I am a first-year student in the Graduate Program of Neuroscience. I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at Brooklyn College - CUNY.  I am interested in circuit level mechanisms that are involved in the development and organization of the brain and how this information can improve our understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders. 



Megan Monko

Megan Monko

Megan Monko is a third-year graduate student in the GPN. She received her B.A. in Biology, Neuroscience, and Molecular Biology from Coe College. Her research interests include changes in connectivity caused by experience and rat homology. 



Jessica Burkhart


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I have a degree in Neuroscience from the University of Arizona, and am now working on my PhD at the University of Minnesota. I love African lions, and love studying the brain, so what better way to spend my time than studying the brains of lions! African lions have a unique social structure and I am hoping to learn more about what makes them different than their asocial cousins, the tiger and the leopard. We will be analyzing neural densities in the putative social networks to investigate this further. This can help us learn more about sociality across species and even help us to understand many psychiatric disorders! I was born in Alaska, grew up in Seattle, but spent most of my time in Arizona. I also lived in the Caribbean for 4 years! I have a furry family consisting of two dogs and two cats, who have traveled the country and over the seas with me. I love to travel and can't wait to spend much of my time in Africa! I am so excited to be here at UMN investigating the neurological mechanisms of lion social behavior!


Maya Wang

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​Maya Zhe Wang is ​a 4th year graduate student in the Department of Brain & Cognitive Science at the University of Rochester and currently a visiting graduate student in the Department of Neuroscience at University of Minnesota. She is interested in ​studying ​​the brain circuit supporting model-based decision making and future planning from representational, anatomical, and causal perspectives.


MariPen Yeatts




Olivia Drake

Olivia Drake

Olivia is a junior biology major at Juniata College in Huntingdon Pennsylvania, and she is here with LSSURP. Aside from playing with monkey brains, her hobbies include art, reading, and hiking. After graduation, she plans to work toward an M.D./Ph.D, and her ultimate career goals are to go into research in clinical neuroscience.

Emily Kilen