Thomas J. Papouin, PhD

Thomas J. Papouin, PhD

Principal Investigator

Thomas obtained a B.Sc. in Biology from the Ecole Normale Superieure (Paris, France), a M.Sc. in Integrative Biology and Physiology from the Ecole Normale Superieure, Institut Pasteur, and University Pierre & Marie Curie (Paris, France), and received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Pharmacology from the University of Bordeaux (France). He trained in the labs of Dr. Massimo Avoli and Dr. Philippe Seguela (McGill University) for his M.S., the lab of Dr. Stephane Oliet (University of Bordeaux) for his Ph.D. and the lab of Dr. Philip Haydon (Tufts University) during his postdoctoral training.

Sarah Walsh, MA

Sarah Walsh, MA

Research Lab Supervisor

Sarah received her B.A. and a M.A. in Psychology and Behavioral Science from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Sarah came to us in 2020 with four years of former research experience working as a Research Assistant in two different labs, and a number of Teaching Assistant positions. She now coordinates most essential lab operations, from research support to animal husbandry, and learning HPLC and in vivo microdialysis along the way.

When not experimenting in the lab, you can find Sarah experimenting in her kitchen, tending to her garden, working on home improvement projects, finding new places to hike, and spending time with her husband and two children.

Some of Sarah’s “Papouinie Awards”: “The fastest 0-to-60 in science” Award & “The garden of the year” Award (2022)

Gareth Rurak, PhD

Gareth Rurak, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Gareth joined us as a joint postdoc with the Dougherty Lab in 2024 after completing his s PhD in neuroscience from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, in 2023.  He is interested in bridging the gap between astrocyte physiology and genetics by finding out how neuromodulators influence astroglial protein synthesis.

When not in the lab, Gareth can be found zipping around the city on his bike in pursuit of the perfect hotdog. He enjoys hyping up your local drag queens and spending time in the park.

Katheryn  Lefton, BA

Katheryn Lefton, BA

Graduate Student (Neuroscience Program)

Before beginning graduate school and joining our lab in Spring 2019, Katie earned her BA in neuroscience and psychology at Boston University, and then worked as a technician for the Holtzman and Hengen groups. In the lab, Katie splits her time between the electrophysiology rig and the French press in the student office.

When she is not in the lab, Katie is hard to find, as she is usually hiking or climbing in the woods around Missouri and Illinois.

Awards & Achievements: Invited talk at the Glial Biology Gordon Research Conference (2023), Invited talk at the Glial Biology Gordon Research Seminar (2023).

Some of Katie’s “Papouinie” Awards: “The Papouin lab first student ever” Award & “The most dramatic haircut” Award (2022)

Yifan Wu, BSc

Yifan Wu, BSc

Graduate Student (Neuroscience Program)

Yifan received her B.S. in biology from the Southern University of Science and Technology (Shenzhen, China). Pursuing her interest in neuroscience, she is now dedicated to studying the mysteries of her favorite cell-type: astrocytes!

When not at work, Yifan is busy honing her culinary skills (she promised cooking for the entire lab one day). You can also find her playing the piano or watching detective TV series at her favorite spot.

Awards & Achievements: Winner of the Annual Grant Competition for 3rd year Neuroscience students (2022); Winner of the Thach Poster Award (2021); WashU Neuroscience Science writing workshop laureate (2021).

Some of Yifan’s “Papouinie” Awards: “The most mouse lines” Award & “The modesty” Award (2022)

Miko Dai, BA

Miko Dai, BA

Graduate student (Neuroscience Program)

Miko earned a B.A. in molecular biology and biochemistry from Middlebury College in Vermont. After graduation, she joined the post-baccalaureate program at the Jackson Laboratory to continue pursuing her passion at the intersection of cognitive sciences, genetics, and genomics. She is currently pursuing a PhD in neuroscience and hopes to learn a thing or two about astrocytes.

When not found in the lab, you can usually catch Miko at tennis courts, at concert halls, or in the park walking her cats.

Some of Miko’s “Papouinie Awards”: Give her a break, she just joined the lab!

Brendan Dang, BSc

Brendan Dang, BSc

Graduate Student (Neuroscience Program)

Brendan earned his B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins University and worked as a research technician in the Bergles Lab for a number of years before coming to WashU and joining the Papouin Lab in the Summer of 2023. Broadly interested in glial biology, Brendan is excited to spend the next several years studying astrocytes and their relevance to behavior.

When not in lab, Brendan enjoys rock climbing, baking and playing video games.

Some of Brendan’s “Papouinie” Awards: Stay tuned to the results of the 2023 season…

Sebbie Zeineddin

Sebbie Zeineddin

Undergraduate Student (WashU)

Sebbie is a WashU undergraduate student double majoring in Biology with a Neuroscience concentration and Philosophy. In his free time, Sebbie enjoys rowing for WashU’s crew team, reading, and writing about St. Louis’ food scene (shoutout www.washueats.com).


Alumni

Kousalya Velagapudi

Kousalya Velagapudi

Lab Assistant – ALUMNA (2023)

Kousalya Velagapudi is currently a senior at Saint Louis University, double-majoring in Neuroscience and Investigative Medical Science, and hopes to pursue an MD/Ph.D. degree in the future. She is from Naperville, IL, a suburb of Chicago, and pretends to like deep-dish pizza to earn her native Chicagoan status. Outside of school and work, Kousalya likes to eat at new restaurants, listen to true crime podcasts, choreograph dance routines, and go on hikes.

Some of Kousalya’s “Papouinie” Awards: “The best giggles” Award & “The new PCR machine” Award (2022)

Current Status: Kousalya just started Med School!

Francesca Manzella, PhD

Francesca Manzella, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate – ALUMNA (2022)

Francesca received her PhD from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and M.A. in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has an extensive background in behavioral pharmacology and electrophysiology and previously researched the effects of neuroactive steroids on cognition, sleep, and anesthesia. Now she’s excited to switch gears and dive into the realm of astrocytes!

When not in the lab Francesca is cooking in the kitchen or scoping out the best places to eat in St. Louis. When not daydreaming of food, she’s on her yoga mat or taking walks in Forest Park.

Some of Francesca’s “Papouinie Awards”: “The most likely to judge your pasta” Award & “The largest skill set award” Award (2022)

Current Status: As of 2023, Francesca works at the non-profit science advocacy group Research America.

Shivani Bharadwaj

Shivani Bharadwaj

Undergraduate student – ALUMNA (2022)

Shivani Bharadwaj was born and raised in the Bay Area. She is currently a second-year undergraduate student at Washington University in St. Louis working to earn a B.A. in Biology on Neuroscience Track. In the future, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience

When not in the lab, Shivani is typically listening to music, relaxing with friends, or in bed binging a Netflix show.

Awards and Achievements: Dean’s List (Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021)

Rachel Manno, BSc

Rachel Manno, BSc

Research Technician II – ALUMNA (2018-2020)

Rachel Manno received a B.S. in Biochemistry & Biotechnology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Formerly a lab tech at the American Red Cross, she now provides research support and animal husbandry to our Lab.

When not at work, you can find Rachel playing ukulele, enjoying the great outdoors, and eating copious amounts of pizza.

Awards & Achievements: Monsanto Award, Dean’s List, Chancellor’s Scholarship, Lipscomb Scholarship, Ferring Scholars Program Alumna

Current Status: As of September 2020, Rachel a is now employed at the Mouse Genetic Core here at WashU, a core with which our lab is continuously working and collaborating.

Humza Agha

Humza Agha

Undergraduate Student – ALUMNUS (2019-2020)

Humza Agha is a native of St. Louis and is currently in the third year of his undergraduate education, working to earn his B.A. in Biology from Saint Louis University. In the future, he aspires to pursue an MD-PhD degree.

When not at work, you can find Humza trying new restaurants, jamming to his music a little too loudly, or focusing intently on his current Netflix show.

Current Status: as of September 2020, Humza has been accepted and is now enrolled in a Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program (PBAC) here at WashU!