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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 to better understand cellular and molecular “decisions” to selectively strengthen or weaken a synapse. As a postdoc, first with Jeffry Isaacson at UCSD and then with Richard Axel at Columbia, Kevin used various tools to functionally and anatomically characterize the circuitry of the piriform cortex. In spite of the constant ridicule, Kevin continues to enjoy an orange at exactly 5 o’clock every afternoon.

 

 
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Kevin Bolding (Post-doc):  Kevin received his Ph.D. with Professor Bob Muller at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn studying the role of theta oscillations in hippocampal representations of space. He is investigating information encoding and storage in the piriform cortex and is interested in how this recurrent network architecture supports spontaneously generated representations of novel experience.  He currently uses large-scale population recordings and chemogenetic and optogenetic manipulations to tease apart the roles of individual circuit elements that shape the population code for odors in the piriform cortex. He can do also do a pretty good ‘I want you back’ by the Jackson 5 at the karaoke bar if he doesn’t have a cold.

 

 
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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.

 

 

Mandy Munsch (Research Technician):  Mandy graduated from The College of William and Mary in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and minor in Computational & Applied Mathematics & Statistics. She is interested in understanding how neural coding leads to complex, high level functions and how to use this knowledge of neural dynamics to predict behavior. She plans to enter a PhD program in 2018. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Mandy is a proud Seahawks fan and eagerly awaits 2023, the next year her birthday will coincide with Super Bowl Sunday.

 

 
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Brendan Ryu (Technician):  Brendan hails from Pittsburgh, PA and has just graduated in the Class of 2017 at Duke University, pursuing a Neuroscience major along with Biology and Chemistry minors. He has been a research assistant in the Franks Lab since his second semester of freshman year and has been enjoying every second of it! He is currently studying epilepsy in mice by utilizing optogenetic tools and plans to complete an honors thesis in Neuroscience for a graduation with distinction. Previously, he conducted projects that aimed to understand how patterned neural activity stabilizes neuronal ensembles in the piriform cortex. Brendan trains Taekwondo and travels along the East coast for tournaments. His third degree black belt intimidates all but the biggest mice in the lab. 

 

 

Lab Alumni

Postdocs:
Dominic Luciano (Impact Pharmaceutical Services)

Graduate Students:
(none yet)

Honors Students:
Brendan Ryu

Visiting Scholars:
Benjamin Roland (visiting graduate student, Collège de France)

Technicians:
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)

Undergraduates:
Keara Darrah (Medical student, UCLA)
Eric Song (Duke undergraduate)
Folisade Abiodun (Duke undergraduate)
Surabhi Beriwell (Duke undergraduate)
Hannah McMullan (Duke undergraduate)