Dr. Shelly Flagel// Principal Investigator

Dr. Shelly B. Flagel was born and raised in Middletown, Ohio, came to Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, and never left. Dr. Flagel became involved in research through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program conducted an undergraduate thesis project under the mentorship of Dr. Israel Liberzon, and graduated with High Honors in Psychology as a Natural Science. She then matriculated into the Neuroscience Graduate Program and conducted her graduate thesis work under the mentorship of Drs. Delia Vazquez and Terry Robinson. Her thesis project examined the effects of early life stress on drug-taking behavior in adulthood. After obtaining her PhD, Dr. Flagel joined the laboratory of Dr. Huda Akil and conducted her postdoctoral training at the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan. Dr. Flagel "opened" her lab in the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan in 2011 and is now a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. In addition to "doing science", Dr. Flagel enjoys being the mom of two boys, the outdoors, exercising and travelling.

Senior Scientists

Stephen Chang// Research Specialist Sr // Lab Manager

Steve began his research career at the University of Michigan, where he received a B.S. with High Honors in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science while working in the laboratory of Dr. Kent Berridge. He then obtained his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in Dr. Peter Holland's laboratory, completing a thesis on the neural basis of sign-tracking. Steve next completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Dartmouth College in Dr. Kyle Smith's laboratory investigating the neural circuitry of cue-reward learning. Steve joined the Flagel lab in September 2018. His current research interests are focused on understanding the neural pathways mediating reward-seeking behaviors that may result in the development of drug addiction.


Stephanie Desrochers// Postdoctoral Fellow

Stephanie first began studying behavioral neuroscience in rodent models in the lab of Dr. Melissa Glenn at Colby College, where she earned her B.A. in Biology and completed an honors thesis on sex differences in a genetic model for schizophrenia symptoms. She then went on to get her Ph.D. in Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, studying the role of serotonin signaling in impulsivity and other reward-related behaviors under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Nautiyal. In the Flagel Lab, Stephanie is interested in how the balance between cortical and subcortical neural circuitry modulates cue-motivated behavior, and how this interacts with other complex, maladaptive behavioral phenotypes. Outside of lab, Stephanie enjoys reading fantasy/sci-fi novels, making art, and baking.

Research Assistants

Jasmine Bhatti // Undergraduate Student

Jasmine is from Sterling Heights, Michigan, and joined the lab during her freshman year at the end of 2019. She is a student in the LSA Honors Program, planning to major in Neuroscience. After graduating, she hopes to attend medical school and pursue a career as a physician. Outside of her time in the lab, she enjoys watching new movies, listening to music, and taking personality quizzes. She graduated in 2023 and is staying on as a part time assistant this year.

Graduate Students

Princess Felix// Neuroscience Graduate Student

Princess is a Nigerian born and Michigan raised graduate student who received her B.S in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. During her time as an undergraduate, she worked on a large-scale cerebrovascular proteins project under Dr. Michael Wang at the Veterans Affairs Healthcare Center. She identified a set of brain vascular proteins that could be relevant to understanding the unique physiology and pathophysiology of the human cerebrovasculature and diseases associated with it. Afterwards, she joined Dr. Benjamin White’s lab at the National Institute of Mental Health. There, she utilized genetic manipulations to study the brain circuitry in Drosophila melanogaster that promotes their eclosion behavior. Princess is intrested in understanding the underlying neurogical circuits that contribute to maladaptive behavior, and aims to be an influential professor and neuroscientist that can better the lives of individuals through research and teaching. In her free time, Princess enjoys comic conventions, watching movies, and dancing.

Brianna Ramos// Neuroscience Graduate Student

Brianna was raised in Southern California and received her B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI). While at CSUCI, she worked under the mentorship of Dr. Gareth Harris; where she studied the neural mechanisms underlying olfactory sensory circuits in C.elegans. Brianna joined the Program in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Michigan and matriculated into the Neuroscience Graduate Program in the fall of 2021. Her research interests include the neurochemical profiles of subcortical, hypothalamic neural circuits that may subserve individual differences in cue-motivated behaviors. And, more specifically, how these differences can help us understand maladaptive behaviors related to reward and motivation, such as drug addiction. Brianna’s motivation to pursue a career in STEM and neuroscience comes from a yearning to understand why certain individuals suffer from mental disorders and to, in turn, help develop more effective treatments. Brianna enjoys hanging out with her friends, calling her family, baking, and swimming in her spare time.

Undergraduate Students

Jaydin Adams // Undergraduate Student

Jaydin is from Berkley, Michigan and joined the Flagel lab during the summer prior to his Junior year in 2022. He is pursuing a major in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience and a minor in Music. After graduation, he plans to continue doing research with hopes of obtaining a PHD in Clinical Psychology. During his free time, Jaydin likes to produce music, play his violin, go out with friends, watch White Chicks, keep up with the latest fashion trends, and make new connections.

Jenna Dubnow // Undergraduate Student

Jenna is from Phoenix, Arizona and she joined the Flagel Lab in 2023 during the winter of her freshman year. She is a neuroscience major who is hoping to pursue a career in the medical field. She also hopes to continue research following her time as an undergraduate. In her free time, Jenna enjoys any outside activity, except in the Michigan winters, playing soccer, and taking new adventures with her friends.

Raymond Li// Undergraduate Student

Raymond is from Queens, New York City, and joined the lab as a UROP student during his sophomore year. He is currently studying Cognitive Science (Decision Track) with plans to pursue a double major with BCN. After graduation, he wants to continue research and attend graduate school. In his free time, he enjoys listening to music with friends, meeting new people, and watching horror movies.

Anna McLean// Undergraduate Student

Anna is from Spring Lake, Michigan, and joined the lab as a UROP and Neuroscience Honors student at the beginning of her freshman year. She is planning to major in neuroscience and plans to attend graduate or medical school. In her free time, you can find her baking cakes, listening to Taylor Swift, or reading!

Vrinda Varada// Undergraduate Student

Vrinda is from Irving, Texas, and joined the lab in mid-2023. She is double-majoring in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience, and Cognitive Science (on the Decision Track). After graduating, Vrinda plans to either attend law school or join the field of marketing, combining a variety of her interests and experiences in research. In her leisure time, Vrinda co-hosts a podcast called “Small Step Society,” listens to and writes music, and enjoys cooking.

Recent Lab Alumni

Amanda Iglesias// Graduate Student (2017-2023)

Current position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Fioravante Lab, UC Davis

Alexandra Turfe// Undergraduate Honors Student and Research Laboratory Technician (2020-2023)

Current position: Medical Student, Wayne State University

Sara Westbrook// Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2020-2022)

Current position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, McLaughlin and Delevich Laboratories, Washington State University

Sofia Lopez// Graduate Student (2016-2020)

Current position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Lattal Laboratory, Oregon Health and Science University

Paolo Campus// Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2015-2020)

Current position: Visiting Professor at Grand Valley State University in the Department of Psychology

Lauren Krueger// Veterinary Resident (2019-2020)

Current position: Veterinary Faculty, Office of Comparative Medicine, University of Utah

Michael Motoc// Undergraduate Student (2019-2021)

Current position: Medical Student at Harvard

Allison Johnson// Undergraduate Honors Student (2016-2020)

Current Position: MSTP at University of Cincinnati

Brittany Kuhn// Neuroscience Graduate Student Alumni (2014–2019)

Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow at Medical University of South Carolina, Kalivas Lab

Aram Parsegian// Postdoctoral Affiliate (2012-2014)

Current Position: Research Scientist, Biogen

Kurt Fraser// Undergraduate Honors Student (2013-2015)

Current position: BRAIN Initiative Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Lammel Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley

Joshua Haight// Neuroscience Graduate Student Alumni (2012-2016)

Current position: Assistant Professor of Psychology, Quinnipiac University

Alesa Hughson// Research Technician (2015-2018)

Current position: Graduate Student in Biomedical Engineering, Michigan State University

Zhongyan Gong// Undergraduate Honors Student (2017-2018)

Current position: Neuroscience Gradate Student, University of California, Berkeley

Katie Long// Undergraduate Honors Student and Lab Manager (2012-2014)

Current position: MSTP Student, University of Chicago

Eman Mubarak// Undergraduate Honors Student (2015-2018)

Current position: Medical Resident at Yale University

Ignacio Rivero-Covelo// Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2014-2017)

Current position: Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Parkside

Previous Lab Members

Elena Cooper// Undergraduate Student (2022-2023)
Caroline Gebczak// Undergraduate Student (2022-2023)
Nemo Liu// Undergraduate Student (2021-2023)
Justin Chung// Undergraduate Student (2021-2023)
Shichi Dhar// Undergraduate Student (2021-2023)
Hannah Davies // Undergraduate Student (2019-2022)
Haewon Hwang// Undergraduate Student (2022)
Danielle Sharon// Undergraduate Student (2021-2022)
Roshini Ankireddygari// Undergraduate Student (2017-2018)
Julia Boese// Lab Manager (2014-2015)
Layne Bond// Undergraduate Student (2017-2018)
Erin Canfield// Undergraduate Student (2019-2020)
Vicky Chu// Undergraduate Student (2012-2013)
Maurice "Moe" Chojecki// Laboratory Manager (2017-2020)
Aryamaan "Arya" Gaddam// Undergraduate Student (2017-2019)
Annie Gencay// Undergraduate Student (2014-2015)
Kanav Gupta// Undergraduate Student (2016-2018)
Aidan Horvath// Research Technician (2015-2019)
Rebeca Kelly// Lab Manager (2011-2013)
Marin Klumpner// Lab Manager (2015-2017)
Allison Lang// Undergraduate Student (2014-2015)
Matea Mustafaj// Research Technician (2014-2015)
Tessa Shapiro// Undergraduate Student (2014-2015)
Betul Tatar// Undergraduate Student (2013-2014)
Jason Wong// Undergraduate Student (2017-2019)
Catherine Yang// Undergraduate Student (2019)
Charlotte Yang// Undergraduate Student (2017-2020)
Zachary Fuller// Undergraduate Honors Student (2015-2016)
Eman Mubarak// Undergraduate Honors Student (2015-2018)
Krittika Pant// Undergraduate Honors Student (2015-2018)
Salima Sewani// Undergraduate UROP and Honors Student (2012-2014)