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

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

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

Tyler VanBuren

Masters Student

The goals I set for my career are to understand and solve the current medical needs of individuals. I began doing this right out of high school for 8 years through my work as a nursing assistant in hospitals, home health care, and nursing homes to better appreciative the current issues, complacencies, and advancements in the field; then consider how to work within these environments to promote change. This passion has led me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Biosystems Engineering as well as Masters in Biomedical Engineering. The objective of earning these degrees have been to develop technical and analytical skills in biological, electrical, and mechanical engineering. This degree has also unexpectedly equipped me with skills in engineering economics and project management that has assisted with the understanding different problems and the difficulties to solve them. During this same time while in college, I had the pleasure to work with many students and professors in the advancement of exoskeletons where over a hundred students from various engineering, biological, and non-STEM backgrounds collaborated to develop active assisting exoskeletons. These lower limb devices were developed to assist firefighters in lifting weight while reducing the energy needed to perform routine tasks. My involvement in this was being the project manager and a research of electromyography hardware and software, which was implemented in our exoskeletons for biofeedback control. This project gave me professional skills in writing human testing IRBs, presenting data at conferences, project management, and how to effectively work in a team. After that experience I began my involvement in research under Dr. Galit Pelled, within the Neuroengineering Division, where I was working with florescence imaging, electrophysiology, marine environmental setup, motion capture analysis, machine learning, and modeling. The main project I was tasked with during my time in Dr. Pelled’s lab was working with Octopuses to uncover connections between neurological activity and physical actions. The purpose of this research has been to enable better prosthetics by developing improved connections between their numerous robotic components creating improved fluid movements.

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

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

Ron Israeli B.S.

Graduate Research Assistant


I got my B.S. in Mathematics from Penn State. I then worked at Microsert Ltd. in Israel developing intraocular implants for sustained drug release. In March 2020, I joined Pelled Lab, where I research the use of electromagnetic perceptive gene (EPG) in the visual cortex for the creation of synthetic vision.

Institution Degree Field of Study
The Pennsylvania State University B.S. Mathematics

Rita Martin

Research Administrator


Rita is the Pelled Lab’s Research Administrator. She identifies potential sources of funding, assists with preparing grant applications and annual research progress reports for funded projects, editing manuscripts, and coordinating technology transfers. Rita also assists with managing administrative functions for the Pelled lab.

Rita earned a master’s degree in Zoology with specialization in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. She graduated with a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Michigan State University.

Institution Degree Field of Study
MS Zoology

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

Fermin Jimenez B.S.


I’ve went to MSU for undergrad in Chemistry and Food Science. While as an undergrad I worked in the Cellular Reprogramming Lab run by Dr. Cibelli helping out in the lab and with zebrafish husbandry. It is here that I gained an interest in working with aquatic animals in the lab setting. After graduating, I continued working for Dr. Cibelli by helping keep the fish colony healthy and within EHS, AAALAC, and IACUC regulations. This has led me to work for Dr. Galit Pelled and with the octopus. I help out with octopus husbandry and with system maintenance.

Institution Degree Field of Study
Michigan State University B.S. Dual: Chemistry, Food Science

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

Ming Zhong, B.S.: Post-Baccalaureate Student, 2018-2020

Josue Franco, B.S.: Post-Baccalaureate Student, 2019-2020

Xiang Liu, M.S. M.D.: PhD Student, 2019-2020

Shengqiang Xu Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2015-2019

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

Jariel Ramirez-Virella, B.S., Post-Baccalaureate 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

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply