Pelled Lab 2020

Galit Pelled, Ph.D.

Gait Pelled, PhDPrincipal Investigator



I received my PhD in Neuroscience from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. In 2004, I joined Dr. Alan Koretsky’s lab at NINDS/NIH as a postdoc fellow. In 2008, I joined Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. My research focuses on identifying cellular mechanisms that are activated post-injury and lead to rewiring of neuronal connections (i.e. plasticity). We use state-of-the-art functional MRI, extracellular and intracellular electrophysiology recordings and optical imaging to map plasticity. We develop novel strategies based on optogenetics, transcranial magnetic stimulation and other genetic-based manipulations to guide plasticity in order to maximize the functional outcome.

Vijai Krishnan, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow


I graduated with a PhD in Neurophysiology, where my research addressed novel synaptic modifications in retinal neurons.

Does the brain recover post injury? My goal is to explore possible effects of nerve injury in altering brain plasticity mechanisms along with exploring novel neuromodulation techniques to remote control brain activity. My area of training and expertise lie in applying molecular and electrophysiological techniques in probing neuronal function. We have discovered and developed a gene (electromagnetic perceptive gene) that is sensitive to electromagnetic stimulation. My goal is to exploit this gene’s function as a means of non-invasively neuromodulating. I am also investigating the therapeutic role of non-invasive neuronal techniques like transcranial magnetic stimulation in peripheral nerve and spinal cord injury.

Institution Degree Field of Study
University of Madras B.S. Microbiology
Vellore Institute of Technology M.S. Biomedical Genetics
Louisiana State University Ph.D. Neuroscience

Shengqiang Xu, Ph.D.

Postodoctoral Fellow

I completed my Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Harbin Institute of Technology.  I was an exchange student in the Department of Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Sheng Xiao, where he conducted work in the area of cancer biology.  I am interested in interdisciplinary and translational research. I am a research associate and my current work focuses on the deep understanding the structure and functions of the electromagnetic perceptive gene (EPG).

Institution Degree Field of Study
Peking University B.S. Cytology and Genetics
Harbin Institute of Technology M.S. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Harbin Institute of Technology Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering

Petra Telgkamp, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist

I received my Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (Biological Sciences Division and Pritzker Medical School), studying central respiratory rhythm generation and modulation in a mouse model. Other research projects in my past include investigations of cellular excitability and synaptic plasticity in different model systems. During my Master’s thesis at the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany, I was introduced to electrophysiological patch-clamp recordings, and I characterized AMPA/Kainate receptors in rat cerebellar astrocytes. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Raman Lab at Northwestern University I applied electrophysiological techniques to study cerebellar neuronal plasticity, and in the Smith lab at Indiana University I extended my research focus considering evolutionary adaptations and adjusted the focus of my research to include neuroethological considerations (using the weakly electric fish as a model system).  In the Pelled lab, I plan to conduct research aimed at guiding the development of novel genetic and molecular-based neuromodulation techniques.

Institution Degree Field of Study
Universität Kaiserslautern B.S. Biology
The University of Chicago Ph.D. Biological Sciences

Xiang Liu, M.S. M.D.

Ph.D. Student


I completed my M.D. and M.S. at Harbin Medical University. After completing the clinical resident training program and specialist training program at Sun Yat-Sen University in China, I worked as an anesthesiologist at the same institution. As a visiting scholar under the supervision of Dr. Stuart Forman and Dr. Hua-Jun Feng at Massachusetts General Hospital, I was introduced to electrophysiological techniques to study the mechanism of anesthetics on recombinant GABA(A) receptors. I am interested in interdisciplinary and translational research. My current work focuses on the effect of the electromagnetic perceptive gene (EPG) on the visual cortex.

Institution Degree Field of Study
Harbin Medical University M.S. Anesthesiology
Harbin Medical University M.D. Medicine

Carolina Cywiak, M.S.

Ph.D. Student

I completed my Master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry in Venezuela at Universidad Simon Bolivar where I investigated a novel isoform for PKA. My Bachelor’s degree is in Medicinal Biology from Bar Ilan University in Israel. I recently joined the Pelled lab to explore novel mechanisms to reduce pain for individuals with nerve injuries via non-invasive neuronal techniques.

Institution Degree Field of Study
Bar Ilan University B.S. Molecular and Medicinal Biology
Simón Bolívar University M.S. Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Alesa Hughson, B.S.

Ph.D. Student

I received a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience from Alma College in 2014. After graduating, I worked at a neurorehabilitation facility in northern Michigan, caring for patients suffering from traumatic brain injury. After one year, I returned to academia as a laboratory research technician in the University of Michigan’s biopsychology department where I studied incentive salience attribution and how it relates to drug addiction. I joined the Pelled lab in Fall 2018 as a Ph.D. student and Graduate Research Assistant. My research involves developing therapies to improve functional outcomes after traumatic brain injury in large animal pediatric models of TBI.

Institution Degree Field of Study
Alma College B.S. Neuroscience

Ryan Ashbaugh, B.S.

Ph.D. Student

I graduated with B.S. degrees from Michigan State University in both Computer Engineering and Neuroscience. During my undergraduate studies I had the opportunity to work on a broad variety of topics including evolutionary biology, autonomous vehicles, and object detection and classification. I am a first year graduate student in a PhD program in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and I am working in Dr. Pelled’s lab as part of an interdisciplinary effort to learn more about the ability to use the electromagnetic perceptive gene (EPG) for neuromodulation. I also plan to work with Dr. Gilad on challenges in Synthetic Biology related to biological circuits that mimic their digital counterparts from Electrical Engineering.

Institution Degree Field of Study
Michigan State University B.S. Neuroscience
Michigan State University B.S. Computer Engineering

Ming Zhong, B.S.

Visiting Scholar

I completed my bachelor’s degree at Zunyi Medical University in China.  While there, my research was focused on radiation medicine technology.  I recently came to Michigan State University as a visiting scholar and joined up with the Pelled Lab in order to use functional MRI technology to detect changes during various neuromodulation methodologies.

Institution Degree Field of Study
Zunyi Medical University B.S. Clinical Medicine

Abby Metto, B.S.

Research Assistant

I recently graduated from MSU with a B.S. in Neuroscience. As an undergraduate research assistant, my project focused on examining age- and sex-specific gene expression in brain biology/disease and identifying genes with a potential role in brain pathology. Currently, I am looking into research options at the Pelled Lab.

Institution Degree Field of Study
Michigan State University B.S. Neuroscience

Josue Franco, B.S.

Ph.D. Student


I am a current post-baccalaureate student who graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a B.A.S in Psychology and minors in Biology and Mathematical Modeling of Complex Systems. My role in the lab is working on the large animal traumatic brain injury (TBI) project in which we are discovering the potential of transcranial magnetic stimulation as a form of therapy for pediatric TBI patients.

Institution Degree Field of Study
Northeastern Illinois University B.A.S. Psychology

Ryan Hunt

Undergraduate Student

I am a senior at Michigan State University dual majoring in Physiology and Neuroscience. I joined Dr. Pelled’s lab due to my interest in neurological plasticity and rehabilitation. My project focuses on understanding the function of the electromagnetic perceptive gene (EPG), specifically, how it behaves within the Glass Catfish.

Institution Degree Field of Study
Michigan State University B.S. (2020) Dual: Physiology, Neuroscience

Tyler VanBuren

Undergraduate Student

I am an undergraduate in Biosystems Engineering working towards becoming a medical doctor. My focus while working in Dr. Pelled’s lab is to help develop magnetic stimulator equipment for experiments. Other projects that I am also involved with are performing electromagnetic stimulation and electrophysiology as well as developing strength augmenting robotic exoskeletons.

Institution Degree Field of Study
Michigan State University B.S. (2020) Biosystems Engineering

Jack Beison

Undergraduate Student


I am currently a sophomore undergraduate at Michigan State University majoring in neuroscience. I recently joined Dr. Pelled’s lab due to my interest in the combination of neuroscience and engineering which Dr. Pelled’s lab focuses on. I help in researching molecular and electrophysiological techniques that help in post nerve injury recovery.

Institution Degree Field of Study
Michigan State University B.S. (2022) Neuroscience

Lab Alumni

Alexander Farnum, B.A.: Ph.D. student, 2015-2019

Samuel Shin, M.D., Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2016-2018

Jariel Ramirez-Virella, B.S., Ph.D. student, 2018-2019

Sarah Park, Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2012-2014

Yan Jouroukhin, Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2012-2014

Ya Yang, Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2012-2014

Tali Kobilo-Moav, Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2013-2015

Mary Sorrell, Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2014-2016

Nan Li, Ph.D.: Ph.D. student, 2008-2013

Yang Han: M.A. student, 2011-2012

John Downey: Undergraduate student, 2008-2011

Albert Mendoza: Summer student, 2014

William Stokes: Laboratory technician, 2015-2017

Anna Heeyun Schwarz: Undergraduate student, 2015-2017

Benjamin Thiesen: M.D. Student, 2015-2017