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.



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.



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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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).


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Robin Blazing (Rotation Student): Robin is a first-year Neurobiology student rotating in the Franks lab. She is interested in the neural computations underlying sensory perception, and is currently studying how recurrent cortical circuitry shapes contextual modulation of visual responses in mouse primary visual cortex. She graduated from Duke University in 2017 with degrees in Biology and Spanish. One of her proudest accomplishments is that after spending a year as a technician training mice to perform complex visually-cued tasks, she successfully taught her cat to do five tricks in just one week.



Brendan Ryu (Research 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. 


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Kanav Chhabra (Undergraduate Student): Kanav is a Senior at Duke University, pursuing a Neuroscience major and a Global Health minor. He joined the Franks lab in the Spring of 2018 and researches olfactory coding strategies with behavior experiments. Kanav plans to attend medical school after graduating and is very excited for more school. When he isn’t studying, Kanav likes to play tennis, basketball, and paint poorly.




Lab Alumni

Erica Rodriguez (Postdoc, Salzman lab, Columbia University)
Dominic Luciano (Impact Pharmaceutical Services)

Graduate Students:
(none yet)

Honors Students:
Brendan Ryu

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

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)

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)