Kevin Franks (PI):  Kevin first learned about the plasticity of ocular dominance columns as an undergraduate studying Biomedical Science and Philosophy and has been fascinated about how experience shapes perception ever since. His Ph.D. work, with Terry Sejnowski at UCSD, involved modeling synaptic transmission and postsynaptic calcium dynamics. As a postdoc, first with Jeffry Isaacson at UCSD and then with Richard Axel and Steve Siegelbaum at Columbia, Kevin functionally and anatomically characterized piriform cortex. circuitry. In spite of the constant ridicule, Kevin continues to enjoy an orange at exactly 5 o’clock every afternoon.



Shiva Nagappan (Graduate Student):  Shiva is a second-year graduate student in Neurobiology and is studying odor memory, specifically how odors are accurately and reliably recognized across multiple exposures. She graduated from Cornell University in 2015 with a degree in Biological Sciences. Shiva grew up in Kuala Lampur, likes to paint, and recently ate two pounds of gummy bears in a week.


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Robin Blazing (Graduate Student): Robin is a Neurobiology student who joined the program in 2018. She graduated from Duke University in 2017 with degrees in Biology and Spanish. She is broadly interested in the neural computations underlying sensory perception and learning. In the Franks lab, she is studying the transformation of olfactory information from the olfactory bulb to piriform cortex. In her free time she enjoys trail running in Duke Forest, going to all of the Durham restaurants, and teaching her cat new tricks.


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Achint Kumar (Graduate Student, with Nicolas Brunel): Achint is a second year PhD student in Physics. He received undergraduate degree in Physics and Electrical Engineering from BITS Pilani, India in 2017. He is currently studying firing rate models of the piriform cortex. In spare time, Achint likes to read about history of science, watch Modern Family, and play chess (though not all at the same time).



Samuel Montgomery (Technician): Sam is a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed research technician who is mapping the projections of piriform neurons to other regions of the mouse brain using techniques from optogenetics. Sam graduated from New Mexico Tech with a degree in Physics, with a focus in Astrophysics and minors in Earth Science and Mathematics. Since joining the lab he has been eager to implement his diverse scientific background to the realm of neurobiology. He is planning on attending graduate school in the coming years, although his exact scientific interests are still somewhat of a mystery. Sam takes great pride in updating his corgi’s Instagram and his ability to destroy a large plate of enchiladas.


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Fernando Santos Valencia (Technician): Fernando is from Oaxaca, Mexico and received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Universidad La Salle in Mexico. As a research assistant, he previously investigated the effects of different patterns of deep brain stimulation over epileptogenesis in Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatria in Mexico City. He is a research technician in the Franks Lab, where he studies piriform cortex modulation by its anterior olfactory nucleus excitatory afferents using fine electrophysiological and chemogenetic technics. He loves cats, enjoys playing the guitar and making music with friends.


Lab Alumni

Kevin Bolding (Research Associate, Davison Lab, Boston University)
Erica Rodriguez (Postdoc, Salzman lab, Columbia University)
Dominic Luciano (Impact Pharmaceutical Services)

Graduate Students:
(none yet)

Honors Students:
Brendan Ryu (with distinction)

Visiting Scholars:
Maryanne Platt (visiting graduate student, Columbia University)
Benjamin Roland (visiting graduate student, Collège de France)

Brendan Ryu (Medical student, Hofstra University)
Mandy Munsch (Bioengineering Ph.D. program, UNC)
Meredith Lackie (Medical student, University of Vermont)
Melissa Franch (Ph.D. program, UT Health Houston)
Mark Dalgetty (Medical student, University of South Carolina)
Psyche Lee (retired)

Kanav Chhabra (Venture For America)
Keara Darrah (Medical student, UCLA)
Hannah McMullan (Ph.D. program at U. Minnesota)
Eric Song (Duke undergraduate)
Folasade Abiodun (Duke undergraduate)
Surabhi Beriwell (Duke undergraduate)
Katherine Kim (Duke undergraduate)