Meet The Writers

Elena Blanco-Suarez (@westboundsigned | @neurocosas | posts) is a postdoc in Nicola Allen’s molecular neurobiology lab at the Salk Institute. She studies astrocytic-secreted factors involved in the formation of synapses, their mechanisms of release and regulation. She also collaborates in Science Education Outreach programs in the Salk Institute and Fleet Science Center in San Diego.

Matt Boisvert (posts) is a Ph.D. student in the UCSD Neurosciences Graduate Program. In Dr. Nicola Allen’s lab at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies he works on ascertaining the role of astrocytes (the other brain cell) in synaptic plasticty. When not in a darkened room staring at brains, Matt is either trying not to fall out of his kayak, getting lost in the mountains, or attempting to get his cats not to lie directly on top of the book he’s reading.

Cailey Bromer (@cbromes | webpostsis a Neuroscience PhD student at UCSD in Dr. Terry Sejnowski’s lab. She is an beginner computational neuroscientist, interested in studying the role of the thalamus in memory consolidation processes and learning all the computational things. Outside of her laboratory work, she is interested in education, efficiency and elaboration. She enjoys being outside, karaoke, dancing, hour long dramas (especially about politics), wine, good company and conversation. Sometimes she keeps up w the news and dabbles in writing fiction.

Ben Cipollini (@mrquickowl | web posts) is a post-doctoral researcher in the UCSD Computer Science & Engineering Department. In Professor Gary Cottrell’s “Unbelievable Research Unit” (GURU), Ben uses neural network modeling and data analysis to understand how the left and right sides of the brain differ, and how the two sides interact over the varied fibers across the corpus callosum. Ben is an advocate for open science, open data, and open source software, and spends time building bridges between existing data sources and neuroscientists, data scientists, and the non-scientists. 

Melissa Galinato (@omneuron | webposts) is a Ph.D. student in the UCSD Neurosciences Graduate Program. In Dr. Chitra Mandyam’s laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute, she studies the role of adult neurogenesis in drug addiction. When Melissa is not hiding in the vivarium doing behavioral experiments, she loves going to the beach and eating tacos.

Rose Hendricks (@rohendricks | webposts) is a Cognitive Science grad student working with Dr Lera Boroditsky. She’s interested in the relationship between language and thought. When not thinking about thinking, she likes to run, cook, and make music. 

Kerin Higa (@kkiritah | webposts) loves postcards, coffee, mice, mouse art, mouse brains, claymation, chamber music, New York City, stickers, flautist Ransom Wilson, chocolate milk, puppets, public transportation, cardboard, pens, and occasionally, disclosing her hoarding habits. Above all, she loves food.  Oh, and she’s a neuroscience grad student who studies psychiatric illnesses in, of course, mice.

Samantha Jones (@jonesfreelance | web | posts) is a PhD student in UCSD’s Biomedical Sciences program, studying the role of RNA decay in neural development. When not in lab, you can find her writing, teaching yoga, and spending time outside appreciating the beautiful San Diego weather. Sam is working toward a future in science journalism with the goal of increasing public science literacy through education and conversation.

Ashley Juavinett (@ashleyjthinks | webposts) is a PhD student in the Callaway Lab at the Salk Institute. She uses in vivo techniques to understand the neural circuitry underlying visual perception in mice. A graduate of Lafayette College in Easton, PA and East Coast native, Ashley spends her free time playing music and attempting to surf.

Erik Kaestner (webposts) is a Ph.D. student in the Multi-Modal Imaging Laboratory with Eric Halgren. He studies the neural representation of language using intracortical electrophysiological techniques and when asked about hobbies he says things like ‘Back before graduate school I used to…’

Jason Keller (posts) a UCSD Neurosciences PhD student in the Stowers Lab at The Scripps Research Institute, where he hopes to contribute to our understanding of how innate and learned behaviors interact in the mammalian brain.

Megan Kirchgessner (@liz_lemniscusposts) is a UCSD Neurosciences PhD student in the Callaway Lab at the Salk Institute, using the visual cortex of the mouse to study neural circuits in vivo and their relation to behavior. Outside of neuroscience, she enjoys running, music, San Diego craft beer, watching movies (both good and “bad”), and stalking the La Jolla Cove sea lions. 

Melissa Lau (@hellomlau | webposts) is a Neurosciences graduate student at UCSD, studying neurogenesis in Holly Cline’s lab.  When she’s not pondering over some tadpole brains, she’s either doing yoga or searching for that perfect bowl of ramen. Besides being a #scicomm fanatic, her many other obsessions include zumba, NPR, and coupons.

Ethan McBride (@egmcb | posts) is a UCSD Neurosciences graduate student in the Callaway Lab at the Salk Institute. He is fascinated by the neural basis of behavior, and is currently investigating the neural circuits underlying attention. Outside of the lab, Ethan enjoys playing the trumpet and piano, trying out new San Diego beers, watching various sportsball games (mostly foot and base), and occasionally trying to get into twitter.

Andy Peters (@flickerfusion | posts) is a neuroscience graduate student at UCSD. When he’s not trying to figure out how the brain learns to move the body, he’s usually playing music.

Catie Profaci (@cprofaciposts) is a neuroscience PhD student studying the blood-brain barrier in Dr. Richard Daneman’s lab. Aside from the brain, her passions include running, wine, baseball, spicy food, traveling, New York Magazine, cheese, NPR, and Bruce Springsteen.

Emilie Reas (@etreas | posts) is a Neuroscience graduate student at UCSD. She works in the Brewer lab, where she uses functional MRI to study how we encode and retrieve memories. If she’s not studying brains, you can find her running or writing (about brains or running!).

Maya Sapiurka (@ppyajunebug | posts) is a graduate student in the UCSD Neurosciences Program studying memory and behavior with Dr. Robert E. Clark and Dr. Larry Squire.  A graduate of the College of William and Mary, she enjoys reading, baking and listening to podcasts in her time outside of the lab.

Drew Schreiner (posts) is a graduate student in the Psychology department at UCSD studying the neural circuits that underlie actions and decision-making with Dr. Christina Gremel.  When not shining lasers into the brains of mice, he can be found backpacking, hiking, and playing guitar.

Jared Smith (@drjaredbsmith | posts) is a postdoctoral research associate in the Jin lab at the Salk Institute, using optogenetics, viral tracing, and electrophysiology to understand how the brain makes decisions about what actions to perform. Outside of lab, he can be found playing guitar, reading fiction, or most likely running around San Diego with his lovely wife and their dog, Henry.

Barbara Spencer (@barbara_spencerposts) is a UCSD Neuroscience Ph.D. student in the Brewer lab. Her research interests include using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study how alterations in memory-related brain structures can be used to predict risk for Alzheimer’s disease and understanding how genes contribute to these changes. Outside of lab she can be found with her PALS, practicing yoga, baking, or rooting for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Rachel Tsunemoto (@rtsunemoto | posts) is a UCSD Neuroscience graduate student interested in communicating science through illustration and animation.  When she’s not transforming skin cells into neurons in the laboratory, she’s doodling neurons and brains in her sketchbook.  Keep an eye out for her neuro-related designs on her blog, including the NeuWriteSD website headers!

Melissa Troyer (@brain_gal web posts) is a Cognitive Science graduate student in the Kutas lab using electrophysiological (EEG) and behavioral methods to study language and memory.

Elena Vicario (@evicarioorri posts) is a visiting grad student in the UCSD Neurosciences department. In Dr. Edward Koo’s lab, she studies mice with Alzheimer’s disease. She is from Barcelona and loves traveling, food (especially Spanish food), wine (any type), brains, seahorses and watching soccer. 


We’re always open to new members! If you’re interested in science writing and would like to get involved in our group, please contact us!