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Member Biographies

mike francis

Michael Francis, PhD - Principal Investigator

Mike Francis received his B.A. (1992) in psychobiology from the University of Virginia. He received a predoctoral National Research Service Award from NIMH to pursue his Ph.D. (1998) in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Florida. He received a postdoctoral National Research Service Award from NIDA to pursue postdoctoral training in the Department of Molecular Medicine at Cornell University. He pursued additional postdoctoral training at the University of Utah and joined the faculty at the University of Utah as a Research Assistant Professor in 2001. Mike started his lab at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in January 2007.

devyn oliver

Devyn Oliver - Graduate Student

Devyn is a Neuroscience graduate student from Blackstone, Massachusetts. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology with a concentration in Neuroscience and Behavior and a minor in Psychology from Assumption College in 2014. Devyn joined in 2015 as a joint student in the Francis and Bénard Labs. She focuses on exploring the genes involved in the formation and maintenance of neuronal synapses.

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Kellianne Alexander - Graduate Student

Kellianne is a Neuroscience graduate student from Weymouth, Massachusetts. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2015. She joined the Francis lab in 2015 as a PGSP student and continued on in the lab after being accepted into the GSBS program in 2016. Her work focuses on synaptic remodeling of the C. elegans motor circuit and the molecular mechanisms that regulate synaptic refinement.

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Shankar Ramachandran, PhD - Post-Doctoral Associate 

Shankar is a postdoctoral associate, who joined the lab in 2016. He received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he characterized calcium channels at presynaptic terminals of lamprey reticulospinal axons using calcium imaging and electrophysiology. He is currently investigating molecular mechanisms underlying synaptic connectivity and plasticity in the C. elegans motor circuit using genetic tools, optogenetics and calcium imaging.

 

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Kasturi Biswas - Graduate Student

Kasturi  is a Neuroscience graduate student from Kolkata, India. She earned her B.Sc. with a major in microbiology from St. Xavier’s College and completed her M.Sc.in neuroscience from National Brain Research Centre in 2018. She joined the Francis lab in 2019 and is interested in molecular basis of memory-formation. Kasturi is currently studying proteins important for synaptic remodelling and circuit formation. Apart from her lab-work, she enjoys cooking, painting and reading non-fiction novels, especially on brain-science and consciousness.

 

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William Joyce - Laboratory Technician I

Will Joyce is a Research Technician who received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from State University New York in 2009. Will provides expert technical assistance in support of all C. elegans projects in the lab, in particular the generation of transgenic C. elegans strains by gonadal DNA injection.


Lab Alumni

Alison Philbrook
Graduate Student (2012-2018)
Alison graduated from Cornell University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and a minor in Biology.  Alison joined the Francis Lab as a graduate student in 2012 and graduated in March 2018.  She is now a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Piali Sengupta at Brandeis University.

Navonil Banerjee
Graduate Student (2010-2016)
Navonil received his Bachelor of Science (2006) in Biochemistry and Master of Science (2008) in Biotechnology from the University of Calcutta, India.  Navonil joined the Francis Lab as a graduate student in 2010 and graduated in December 2016.  He is now a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Elissa Hallem at UCLA.

Raja Bhattacharya, PhD
Postdoctoral fellow (2010-2016)
Raja obtained his PhD in 2006 from the Department of Biochemistry, University of Calcutta, India. He joined the Francis Lab as a postdoctoral fellow in 2010 studying neuropeptide modulation of neural circuit activity and context-dependent behavior.

Denis Turutin, PhD 
Postdoctoral fellow (2010-2015)
Denis received his Ph.D. in 2009 from the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago. Denis contributed significantly to several projects in the lab, in particular studies of neuromodulation, before departing in 2015.

Belinda Barbagallo 
Graduate Student (2008-2014)
Belinda Barbagallo attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute where she earned a Bachelors of Science Degree in Biotechnology in 2007. Belinda joined the Francis Lab as a graduate student in 2008 and graduated in July 2014. Following a successful postdoc in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Garrity at Brandeis University, Belinda is now an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at Salve Regina University.

Hilary Prescott
Graduate Student (2008-2012)
Hilary graduated from Cedar Crest College with a Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience and a double minor in Chemistry and Bioinformatics. She joined the Francis lab in 2008 and graduated in August 2012.

Marian Haburcak, PhD 
Postdoctoral Fellow (January 2009 – February 2011) 
Marian Haburcak received his Ph.D. in Physiology from the Comenius University in Slovakia. He is currently a Fellow in the Department of Anesthesiology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Lauren Merritt
Laboratory Technician (Jan 2018 - Aug 2019)
Lauren joined the Francis lab in 2018 as a Research Technician. Lauren received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Biophysics with a minor in Brain and Brain Behavior from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2017. She provides research support to students and postdocs in the lab in order to move their projects forward as efficiently as possible.

Jason Climer 
Undergraduate Intern (Jun 2007 - Aug 2010) 
Jason Climer graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2010 with a B.S. in Biology and Biotechnology and a Minor in Computer Science.  He conducted research for his Major Qualifying Project (senior thesis) in the lab, which was granted the Provosts Award for Most Outstanding Biology MQP.

Patrick Boyle 
Laboratory Technician (May 2007 - June 2010) 
Patrick Boyle worked as a laboratory technician in the Francis lab from the start of the lab to June 2010.  He now is a technician at the Broad Institute.