A collage of eight graduate fellow portraits

Picower Graduate Fellows

Picower Graduate Fellows are young scientists who have demonstrated outstanding scholarship, innovation and curiosity. They are pioneers with great potential to make profound impacts in brain science research at MIT and throughout their careers ahead. The Picower Graduate Fellows program provides the support to launch and sustain their training and research. As members of both their academic department and The Picower Institute, they join collaborative intellectual communities that provide many opportunities for mentoring and building research and professional skills.

Meet the current class of these exceptional researchers below.

Faculty Mentor
Research Summary
Josefina Correa Menéndez Emery N. Brown Correa Menéndez's thesis work entails devising a multi-level statistical modeling framework to analyze large-scale neural recordings. This framework will allow for studying neural dynamics at various spatio-temporal scales in a more principled manner, such as across brain regions, experimental sessions, and subjects. Her work aims to be computationally tractable, flexible, and applicable to datasets with different statistical properties.
Gabi Drummond Mriganka Sur

Drummond is studying the spatiotemporal dynamics of norepinephrine release from the locus coeruleus during a learned behavior. Specifically, she is interested in locus coeruleus norepinephrine neurons' encoding of uncertainty and surprise and how these signals are distributed to brain-wide targets to facilitate two distinct components of a learned behavior, task execution, and task optimization.

Maxwell Heinrich Mark Bear

Heinrich investigates the mechanisms and implications of hyperexcitable cortical circuitry in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome, the leading inherited cause of intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders. We believe this work could lead to novel therapeutic strategies and biomarkers for treating this neurological disorder.

Madison Leet Mark Bear

Leet's project focuses on the mechanisms behind treatment methods that can promote improved vision in amblyopic mice. This research aims to ultimately facilitate the development of new and more effective approaches to amblyopia (lazy eye) therapy.

Francis Reilly-Andujar Mark Bear

Reilly-Andujar's research focuses on understanding the molecular and cellular processes involved in re-opening a window of enhanced neuronal plasticity in the visual cortex of the adult mouse. Understanding the processes that drive this increased plasticity will provide critical insights towards developing new therapies to treat amblyopia, a form of visual disability that affects ~3-5% of the US population.

Sara Simpson Mark Bear

To help elucidate how the brain stores memories, Simpson's research investigates the neural mechanisms, both at the cellular/synaptic and systems levels, necessary for consolidating visual recognition memory and its underlying neural plasticity.

Katya Tsimring Mriganka Sur Tsimring's research focuses on neurons' functional development and plasticity in the mouse visual cortex during the critical period for ocular dominance plasticity. Specifically, she studies how dendritic spines on single neurons develop feature-selective responses and influence somatic responses by using two-photon calcium imaging and super-resolution microscopy to characterize their functional, structural, and molecular properties longitudinally.
Qianli Xu Matthew Wilson

Xu's research investigates the interaction between cortical area(s) and the hippocampus throughout learning. Specifically, she is recording from both the primary visual cortex (V1) and the hippocampal CA1 region in freely-moving mice as they explore a visually-cued maze during both navigation and post-navigation sleep until the animal has fully learned the space, and investigating how changes in the visual stimuli induce changes in the population responses in both V1 and CA1 respectively, in turn, to form a hypothetical model on the co-fluctuations in neuronal activities between the two areas for future experimental studies.