Grace is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at UC San Diego. She holds a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Neuroscience from Elon University, where her research focused on reconstruction of ancient retroviral sequences in primate genomes. After graduating in 2020, she went on to explore the single-cell transcriptional landscape of IBD as a Research Associate at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Her research in the DevCoGx lab focuses on the role of Lamin-B1 in 3D genome organization and neurodevelopment. Outside of lab, Grace loves hiking, weightlifting and orchestrating elaborate themed parties for her friends!
PhD Student - BMS
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Jeffrey is a current Ph.D. student in the Biomedical Sciences program at UCSD. Prior to joining DevCoGx, he graduated with degrees in Molecular/Cell Biology and Public Policy from UCSD. During his undergraduate career, Jeffrey studied rare genetic mutations which caused lung disease. At DevCoGx, Jeffrey is studying the impact of mutations in the genome organizer CTCF on neurodevelopment. In his free time, Jeffrey is always looking for new recipes for breads or sweets that he can enjoy both baking and eating.
MSc Student - Molecular Biology
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Nancy is a BS/MS student majoring in molecular and cell biology and minoring in chemistry at UCSD. Her previous research focused on understanding the molecular control of synaptic vesicle cycle in neurotransmission using drosophila as a model organism. Nancy is interested in the general fields of genomics and neurodegenerative diseases. During her free time, she likes to dance and attend music festivals.
Mackenzie studied neurodevelopment of the hindbrain in Zebrafish while completing her B.S. in Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University. As an IMSD scholar, she studied the effects of external factors such as ethanol on facial branchiomotor neuron migration during the early stages of development. Mackenzie is currently earning her Master’s degree in Applied Data Science, interested in machine learning for neuroscience and genetics. At DevCoGx, she studies the role of microglia in neurodevelopment & aging in the context of Down syndrome. In her free time, Mackenzie enjoys electronic music festivals, playing video games, and reading any fantasy/sci-fi book she can get her hands on.
Staff Research Associate
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Parnaz completed her B.S. in Biology at San Diego State University and went on to obtain her masters in Psychological Science at California State University, Chico. As a graduate student, she studied the behavioral and neural effects of binge-eating in female adolescent mice. Parnaz is currently a laboratory technician for both the Smith and Meharena lab at UCSD and aspires to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience in the future. In her free time, Parnaz enjoys making jewelry and art, listening to reggaeton, and watching cheesy reality TV shows.
Staff Research Associate
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Zoe Adelsheim graduated from UC San Diego in 2023 with a B.S in Neurobiology and a minor in Health Care Social Issues. As an undergraduate, Zoe primarily studied circadian rhythm disruption in bipolar disorder. In their research, Zoe hopes to elucidate the mechanisms underlying neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. Currently in DevCoGx, Zoe is investigating developmental senescence and the effects of genomic imbalance in neurodevelopmental disorders. In their free time, Zoe loves to do yoga, run, and explore all the boba tea places in San Diego.
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Guha is an undergraduate student in Revelle College at UCSD and is currently majoring in neurobiology. He has previously conducted a personal research project studying the growth and behavior of his pet snail colony. Guha’s main research interest is the general study and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders. In his free time, Guha enjoys playing and teaching tennis, observing wildlife, and playing piano for his rock band.
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Jacqueline Grime is a second year undergraduate student at UCSD majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology. Her main research interests are the regenerative properties of stem cells and the use of CRISPR as a way to help fight against various genetic diseases. In her free time she has been trying to make the perfect fried tofu. Other hobbies she pursues are crocheting, collecting insect field guides, and rock climbing.
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John is an undergraduate student in Revelle College at UCSD and is currently majoring in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. John's main research interest is the general study and treatment of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders. In his free time he enjoys playing basketball, weightlifting, and reading.
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Jessica is an undergraduate student in Marshall College at UCSD majoring in neurobiology. Jessica's main research interest is around development of the brain and neurodegenerative diseases. In her free time, Jessica enjoys running and swimming, traveling to new places, and grabbing coffee with friends.
Libby supports the Meharena Lab and assists with travel, reimbursements, and liaising with campus resources. She has supported Biological Sciences faculty since 2007 and previously worked in biotech in operations and product support. She has a B.S. in theatre from Northwestern University and is a professional singer and writer. In her free time, Libby enjoys concerts, shows, and walks with her spouse and dogs. She is (slowly) getting better at playing bass guitar in a wizard rock band.
Ashley studied biology with a specialization in genetics before completing her PhD at Western University in biochemistry and developmental biology. She completed postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Li-Huei Tsai at MIT. Prior to joining the Developmental and Cognitive Genomics (DevCoGx) Research Group, Ashley was a senior scientist at STEMCELL Technologies. Her research is motivated by a lack of mechanistic knowledge of the molecular processes underlying brain development and cognition.
Research interests: chromatin structure, neurogenesis, building better models to study neurological disease
Hiruy received his PhD in Biomedical Sciences from UC San Diego. As a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow his research focused on understanding the biochemical and biophysical principles governing Protein Kinases to identify novel cancer therapeutics under the mentorship of Dr. Susan Taylor. He then completed his postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) under the mentorship of Dr. Li-Huei Tsai. As a UNCF/Merck , BWF PDEP, and Alana postdoctoral fellow his research focused on understanding the genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms governing the neurological deficits observed in individuals with Down syndrome. Currently, Hiruy is an Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Molecular Biology in the School of Biological Sciences at UC San Diego.