Current DBS Students
Sylvia Guillory completed her B.S. degree in Cognitive Science and Applied Mathematics at University of California Los Angeles in 2005. She also earned an M.S. degree in Cognitive Science at the University of Edinburgh in 2008 and she is currently finishing up her second Master’s (an M.A. in Psychology) at Brandeis University. Her current project (mentored by Dr. Robert Sekuler) is aimed at characterizing the interaction of exogenous and endogenous factors in attention using EEG. Sylvia has been a co-author on three journal articles and six conference presentations. Sylvia has extensive research experience not just in cognitive neuroscience (Memory and Cognition Lab, Brandeis University; Bjork Learning and Forgetting Lab, UCLA), but in clinical studies as well (VA Palo Alto, tested patients with Traumatic Brain Injury; UCSF, collected behavioral, EEG and fMRI data from patients with schizophrenia; trained in ABA and worked with children with autism).“I developed an interest in studying perception as a research assistant working with patients with Traumatic Brain Injuries. Many of the patients experienced visual impairments that varied from mild to severe and I was able to observe behaviorally how an injury to the head effects processes in the brain and disrupts a diverse number of cognitive abilities.” – she said. Sylvia will work with Zsuzsa Kaldy on eye-tracking studies of visual salience and visual learning in infants, toddlers and adults, and collaborate on a joint project with Vivian Ciaramitaro aimed at calibrating the salience of intermodal stimuli in infants.
Amanda Madden completed a B.A. degree in Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston in 2010, graduating summa cum laude. As an undergraduate in the lab of Dr. Tiffany Cunningham, she examined the effects of housing status on anxiety and drug abuse vulnerability in rats. Following graduation, Amanda gained even more experience with Behavioral Neuroscience techniques, such as immunocytochemistry and behavioral assays, working as a Research Technician in the lab of Dr. Susan Zup. Specifically, Amanda spearheaded a large study utilizing an animal model to investigate sex differences in a putative developmental cause of autism: hyperserotonemia. She has given two conference presentations based on her work and is currently working on a first author manuscript. Amanda’s extensive lab experience sparked her interest in Neuroscience and gave her even more motivation to apply to graduate school and specifically to the DBS program, as in her words, “I want to learn to think like a neuroscientist [and] attending the Developmental and Brain Sciences doctoral program at UMass Boston will give me the additional experience and tools to earn a research-based appointment where I can represent the rigor of this program.” Amanda will work with Dr. Zup on the development of sex differences in the mammalian brain, focusing on the molecular basis of hormone action during a critical perinatal period.
Scott Templin completed his B.S. degree in Psychology at University of Maryland in 2008. He also earned an M.S. degree in Neuroscience at Brandeis University in 2010. He is currently a research assistant in the laboratories of Charles Berde and Kathryn Commons at Children’s Hospital Boston investigating long-acting local anesthesia in addition to the molecular neuroanatomy of the raphe nuclei. Scott’s current projects have been fruitful as his work as led to two peer-reviewed journal articles which he has first-authored. In addition, he has presented two conference presentations, of which he was also first author. Scott has relevant research experience in behavioral neuroscience, including working with a variety of animal models including rats, mice, and bats. Additional technical skills that he has acquired include small surgeries and dissections, immunohistochemistry, genotyping transgenic mice using PCR and gel electrophoresis, and behavioral testing and scoring – all of which will be useful when he works with Jin Ho Park on investigating the genetic and molecular underpinnings of social and reproductive behaviors.
Rhonda Lott finished her first undergraduate B.A. with a double major in Anthropology and History in 2007 at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. After, Rhonda served four years of active duty in the US Marines Corps. She was intrigued by the field of Psychology late in her career and, in turn, embarked on a second B.A. in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha, WI (to be completed in May 2012). As an undergraduate, Rhonda participated in research projects in the departments of Anthropology and Psychology, aiding in subject recruitment, testing, and data analysis. The projects were designed to understand the historical demography of ethnic communities in an industrial city in the Midwest (Anthropology), and the neural correlates of task switching guided by task and transition cues (Psychology). Rhonda has also had extensive teaching experience serving as a private English Language teacher in large and small-group settings in Eastern Europe (Prague, Czech Republic). Rhonda brings a remarkable work ethic, intense interest in understanding the brain correlates of psychological decline (e.g., mood disorders), as well as extensive experience in research methods and teaching to DBS. She will join Tiffany Donaldson’s research team investigating the brain mechanisms mediating trait anxiety as a vulnerability factor for substance abuse. Rhonda will also examine the epigenetic factors involved in the beneficial effects of enriched environments on reversing the neurobehavioral profile of anxious rats.
Mahalakshmi Ramamurthy earned a B.S. in Optometry from the Elite School of Optometry at the Birla Institute of Technology in India in 2008 and an M.S. in Vision Science from University of Waterloo in 2011. Her undergraduate research centered on tests of human visual acuity, with additional clinical work involving, for instance, cataract screening in remote areas of Chennai, India. Her Masters research used visual psychophysics, particularly that of color vision, to evaluate different flat-screen display technologies. This led to a job in industry at Christie Digital in Ontario. Luckily for us, her interest in basic science and desire to pursue an academic career motivated her to leave industry and join the DBS program. Her ultimate goal is, “to be in academia pursuing a career that combines teaching with exploring frontier areas in cognitive-visual neuroscience.” Maha has a strong background in visual psychophysics, Matlab programming and experimental design; her letter writers independently described her as ‘outstanding’ and ‘impressive’ and noted her extensive research skills and knowledge of the visual system, but also the quality of her written and oral presentations (Maha has extensive TA experience). Maha described her first encounter with psychophysics as ‘a revelation’; a natural fit for the Blaser lab. Her research will likely center on the development of visual attention, specifically its impact on color perception and working memory.