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 an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. In addition to "doing science", Dr. Flagel enjoys being the mom of two young boys, the outdoors, exercising and travelling.

Postdoctoral Members

Paolo Campus// Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Paolo was born in Sardinia, Italy, but completed his studies at Sapienza - University of Rome, where he received a B.SC in Psychological Sciences and a M.Sc. in Cognitive Neuroscience. During his studies he worked in the laboratory of 'Developmental Psychobiology and Behavioral Genetics' under the mentorship of Prof. Simona Cabib, where he studied how the impact of a previous stress history alters the behavioral and neural adaptations to environmental challenges in different inbred mouse strains. In December 2014 Paolo received his Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Sapienza University, with a dissertation titled "A genotype-environment interaction modulates the involvement of different memory systems in the consolidation of stress related memories." In September 2015 Paolo came to Ann Arbor to join the Flagel Lab as a post-doctoral fellow. His current research interests are focused on the study of the brain mechanisms underlying maladaptive behaviors and the study of individual differences in liability to drug addiction. In his spare time, Paolo loves playing guitar, listening to rock music and home-recording.

Aram Parsegian// Postdoctoral Affiliate

Aram grew up in Washington DC, received his B.Sc. in Psychology from Bates College in 2004, worked three years in Dr. William Carlezon’s Behavioral Genetics Laboratory at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, and received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Medical University of South Carolina in 2012. His thesis examined the contribution of methamphetamine-induced dysfunctions in the corticostriatal pathway to persistent drug seeking behavior. He is now a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Huda Akil’s laboratory, and collaborates with the Flagel Lab on a regular basis. Aram’s overall research interest is to understand how environment, behavioral experiences, and neurobiological factors contribute to susceptibility for neuropsychiatric conditions including mood disorders and drug addiction.

Graduate Students

Brittany Kuhn// Neuroscience Graduate Student

Brittany graduated from Virginia Tech in 2010 with a B.S. in Biology, and then received her MS in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2013. While in Dallas she worked as a study coordinator and research assistant in the lab of Dr. Francesca Filbey at BrainHealth focusing on the contributions of early life stressors and genetics in chronic cannabis users. Brittany’s interests lie in the neurocircuitry involved in addiction behavior, and understanding at a systems level how differences in neurobiological processes can result in various behavioral phenotypes. Outside of the lab she is an avid runner and soccer referee and loves going to country concerts. She is also a Hokie football fanatic.

Sofia Lopez// Neuroscience Graduate Student

Sofia received a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso, where she worked with Dr. Edward Castañeda investigating the role of dopamine plasticity in neurodegeneration. In the fall of 2015 she joined the University of Michigan’s Neuroscience Graduate Program. Sofia’s interests include understanding the neural mechanism underlying maladaptive behavior such as addiction, stress, and anxiety. Specifically, she is interested in the individual differences that drive or prevent the manifestation of such behaviors. Outside of the lab, Sofia enjoys training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and going on the occasional jog.

Undergraduate Students

Roshini Ankireddygari// Undergraduate Student

Roshini is from Novi, Michigan, and joined the lab the beginning of her freshman year, in September 2017. She is pursuing a dual major in neuroscience and data science and hopes to go to either medical or graduate school in the future. Outside the lab she loves reading classics, writing for the Michigan Daily, and taking long walks.

Layne Bond// Undergraduate Student

Layne is from Saline, MI and is a senior studying Neuroscience. After graduation Layne hopes to attend Pharmacy School and obtain a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry; her goal is to end up in drug development for neurological disorders. Outside of school and work Layne spends her time volunteering with her service fraternity APO. Her volunteering projects focus around after school programs for underprivileged children and working with kids with special needs.

Aryamaan "Arya" Gaddam// Undergraduate Student

Arya Gaddam is a Junior from Troy, MI and joined the Flagel Lab in February of 2017. He is currently pursuing a major in Biopsychology and has plans to go to medical school. He is currently volunteering his time in the lab and is interested in the neurobiological basis of addictive behavior. During his free time, he enjoys listening to podcasts, playing his guitar and exercising.

Zhongyan Gong// Undergraduate Honors Student

Zhongyan is a transfer student from China and joined the lab in 2017, at the end of her Junior year. She is in neuroscience Honors Program and plans to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience after graduating. She is interested in the neural circuits that underlie reward-learning behavior. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano, photography and traveling.

Kanav Gupta// UROP Student/Research Scholar

Kanav is from Grand Blanc, Michigan and joined the Flagel lab at the beginning of his sophomore year, in September 2016. He is a Research Scholar as part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and is pursuing a major in Neuroscience. He would like to go to medical school after graduating. His research interests include investigating the neurobiological mechanisms underlying reward-seeking behavior in rats. In his free time, Kanav enjoys reading, traveling, exploring the restaurants of Ann Arbor, and catching up on the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Allison Johnson// UROP Student/Research Scholar

Allison is from Lapeer, MI, and is a freshman in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). She is planning to major in Neuroscience and hopes to either attend medical school or go on to graduate school to pursue research as a career. Her research interests include studying the neurobiology of stress and motivated behavior. Outside the lab, Allison can be found watching Gilmore Girls, doing art, or practicing karate.

Eman Mubarak// Undergraduate Honors Student

Eman is from Ann Arbor and is a freshman in the Honors Program. She is currently undecided on a major, but hopes to go to medical school after graduation. At the present time she volunteers in the lab, and is especially interested in research regarding susceptibility to addiction and reward-based behaviors.

Krittika Pant// Undergraduate Honors Student

Krittika is from Princeton Junction, New Jersey and joined the lab in the middle of her freshman year in January 2015. She is in the Honors Program and pursuing a major in Neuroscience. Currently, she wants to go to medical school and is considering the option of an MD/PhD program after graduating. Her research interests include the neurobiological mechanisms underlying addiction and the genetic basis of reward seeking behavior in rats. In her free time, Krittika loves traveling, playing golf, reading mystery novels and watching Grey's Anatomy.

Jason Wong// Undergraduate Student

Jason is from New York City and originally started off his undergraduate career conducting nonlinear optics research in the Jang Lab at Binghamton University. After receiving an offer to transfer into the University of Michigan and still unsure about his future career plans, Jason began neuroscience research in the Kennedy Group under Dr. Zestos through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. There, he investigated the in vivo neurochemical effects of PKC inhibitors on the attenuation of cocaine-stimulated dopamine efflux and cultivated his interest in the neuroscience behind addiction. After declaring a major in Neuroscience at the end of his sophomore year, Jason officially joined the Flagel Lab in July 2017. He hopes to write a neuroscience honors thesis in the near future and plans on applying to medical school. In his free time, Jason enjoys playing ping pong, weight-lifting and Wiki-binging.

Yiqiu Yang// Undergraduate Honors Student

Yiqiu is from Ann Arbor and joined the Flagel Lab at the start of her Sophomore year, in September 2017. She is in the LSA Honors Program and is currently pursuing a major in Neuroscience. Her research interests include factors contributing to addiction liability and the relationship between stress responsiveness and stimulus-reward learning. Upon graduation, Yiqiu hopes to go to medical or graduate school. When she is not in the lab or cramming in the Fishbowl, Yiqiu can be found practicing table tennis, solving Rubik's Cubes, or cooking Chinese food. She is also an avid sci-fi reader.

Lab Managers/Technicians

Maurice Chojecki// Laboratory Manager // Research Laboratory Specialist

Maurice Chojecki grew up outside of Chicago where he attended The University of Illinois at Chicago for his Bachelors in Bioengineering. While there he assisted in creating cortical vascular computer simulations as well as stroke therapy games for rehabilitative engineering. In December 2016, after working for a year-and-a-half he left Chicago to attend U of M to obtain his MSE in Biomedical Engineering. Under the guidance of Drs. Yue Cao and James Balter he analyzed data regarding radiation therapy and white matter integrity with magnetic resonance and diffusion tensor imaging. Having fallen in love with Ann Arbor, he can be found at a local bar or playing board games around town with friends.

Aidan Horvath// Research Technician

Aidan holds a BS in Zoology from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND. After graduating in 2013, he began volunteering in Israel Liberzon’s lab at the University of Michigan where he studied the effects of Single Prolonged Stress on fear learning and retention. His interest in behavioral neuroscience and individual differences drew him to the P50 project, a collaborative effort between Dr. Flagel and Dr. Terry Robinson, as well as others at other institutions (ratgenes.org). The primary goal of the P50 project is to investigate genetic factors underlying behavioral phenotypes related to addiction, specifically the attribution of incentive salience to a reward cue. Aidan’s long term goal is to obtain a PhD and guide future generations of scientists as a teacher and researcher. His other pursuits include various creative ventures such as animation and music writing.

Alesa Hughson// Research Technician

Alesa graduated from Alma college in 2014 with a B.S. in Neuroscience. As an undergraduate, she conducted an independent research project investigating the effects of nicotine on neural plasticity and functional recovery after stroke-like injury in the adult rat. She is currently working on the behavioral portion of a large collaborative study investigating genetic factors involved in addictive behaviors (ratgenes.org), including the attribution of incentive salience to a reward cue and the tendency to seek out novel environments. Alesa is planning to attend graduate school to get a PhD in either neuroscience or genetics. She is particularly interested in neurodegenerative research and considering a career in academia. Outside of the lab, Alesa enjoys crafting, playing board games, and cooking.

Recent Lab Alumni

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

Current position: Faculty/Instructor Marquette University

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

Current position: Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University (http://medicine.yale.edu/lab/addy/)

Zachary Fuller// Undergraduate Honors Student (2015-2016)

Current position: Medical Student at University of Pittsburgh

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

Current position: Graduate Student at Johns Hopkins University (http://www.janaklab.com/)

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

Current position MSTP Student, University of Chicago (http://bensmaialab.org/lab-members/)

Salima Sewani// Undergraduate UROP and Honors Student (2012-2014)

Current position: Medical Student at the University of Cincinnati

Previous Lab Members

Marin Klumpner// Lab Manager (2015-2017)
Julia Boese// Lab Manager (2014-2015)
Rebeca Kelly// Lab Manager (2011-2013)
Matea Mustafaj// Research Technician (2014-2015)
Allison Lang// Undergraduate Student (2014-2015)
Annie Gencay// Undergraduate Student (2014-2015)
Betul Tatar// Undergraduate Student (2013-2014)
Tessa Shapiro// Undergraduate Student (2014-2015)
Vicky Chu// Undergraduate Student (2012-2013)