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 Mitchell, MSc

Senior Research Technician

Sarah received her B.S. and a M.Sc. in Psychology and Behavioral Science from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Sarah came to us 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 will contribute her behavioral expertise to several lab projects.

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 partner and toddler.

Francesca Francesca Manzella, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate

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.

Katheryn Lefton, BSc

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.

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 2021 Thach Poster Award; 2021 WashU Neuroscience Science writing workshop laureate.

Kousalya Velagapudi

Lab Assistant

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.

Shivani Bharadwaj

Undergraduate student (WashU)

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

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

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!