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Aref Zarin Ph.D.

Aref Zarin was a postdoctoral researcher in the HHMI laboratory of Chris Doe at the University of Oregon. Aref applies cutting edge technologies to study the development and function of neural circuits driving motor behaviors in Drosophila larva.

 

In collaborative research, Aref generated a comprehensive synapse-level motor connectome using electron microscopy reconstruction of the entire larval nervous system. Aref is a pioneer in application of calcium imaging methods to monitor neuronal activity and characterize animal locomotor behaviors at a single-muscle level. By altering the neural function and examining the motor output, Aref links the activity of individual neurons to animal behaviors.

 

Aref received his PhD from the University of Dublin, where he studied the transcriptional mechanisms underlying neural circuit development. He also has a M.Sc. degree in Molecular Genetics from the University of Tehran.  

 

Aref is a multicultural person who has lived in three different countries (four cultural distinct cities), and can fluently speak three different languages. Aref is a husband, father of a cute boy, and a pet lover. Traveling to different countries, exploring new cultures, camping, hiking and outdoor adventures, gardening and landscaping, beer tasting, and barbequing are the hobbies that Aref enjoys.

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Lewis Sherer Ph.D.

Lewis earned his BS in Molecular and Cell Biology from Texas A&M University and his PhD in Cellular, Molecular, and Microbial Biology from the University of Montana. During his doctoral studies in the lab of Dr. Sarah Certel, Lewis studied the functional implications of dual transmission, whereby neurons release more than one transmitter, using aggressive behavior as a readout. He characterized a subset of dual transmitting neurons that expressed both the invertebrate norepinephrine analog octopamine and the excitatory transmitter glutamate. Lewis identified complementary and separable functions for octopamine and glutamate within octopamine/glutamate neurons: both octopamine and glutamate release are required for aggression, while only octopamine release is required to constrain courtship. Lewis has also characterized the presynaptic regulatory mechanisms of single octopamine/glutamate neurons within an aggression circuit. He has identified octopamine and glutamate autoreceptors whose expression in a single neuron is required to constrain aggression, as well as two octopamine/glutamate single-neuron pairs that promote mid-level and high-level aggressive behaviors. 

When he is not in the lab, Lewis enjoys a variety of hobbies. Lewis is an amateur mixologist and would sometimes mix up Friday night cocktails for stressed-out graduate students. Lewis also enjoys playing strategy games and board games with friends. He enjoys hiking, backpacking, and camping and counts excursions in Texas, Montana, and California among his most memorable. Lewis also assumes the role of Dungeon Master for a weekly Dungeons and Dragons group, where he devises puzzles for the party that are rarely solved in the way he intended.

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Yuhan Huang

Yuhan earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Sichuan University, China and a Master’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology (Garrity Lab) from Brandeis University, Massachusetts. With experience in genetics, molecular biology and behavioral study in the Drosophila model, she finds herself deeply interested in neuroscience, especially in how neural circuits produce disntinct behavioral outputs in different situations. The Zarin lab becomes an ideal place for her to study the activity pattern of motor neurons and interneurons in the motor circuit and their connectivity in a single-cell resolution, using cutting-edge confocal microscopy, Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) reconstruction, and advanced data analysis using MATLAB. During her PhD, she will be continuously working on neuronal activity of different neurons during Drosophila larvae locomotion and the hierarchy of neurons within the motor circuit; she is also interested in how sensory feedback helps optimizing motor circuit activity and behavior output during locomotion.

Yuhan is a HEAVY gamer and she plays a variety of video games in her free time. Yuhan enjoys learning computer technology such as programming, video editing, 3D modeling and assembly of PC, smartphone and other electronical devices. She also likes to build and collect figures and models of animation and video game characters.

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Hannah Crowe

Hannah is an undergraduate researcher in her senior year of her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Texas A&M. Due to her interest in neuroscience and genetics, as well as the desire to link the two with medicine, she joined the Zarin Lab of Neurobiology in the spring of 2021. She plans to take the MCAT and apply for medical school in the year after her graduation. Her main focus within the lab is studying and gaining an understanding of how dopamine-mediated neuromodulation affects locomotion in Drosophila Melanogaster. In order to do so, she is developing skills such as using MATLAB to analyze data, becoming familiar with drosophila musculature, dissecting out larval brains in L2 and L3 larvae, and is currently working on her thesis in this very area.

 

As much as Hannah loves the fields of science and technology she also has a passion for the arts and for athletics. Spending time playing the piano, guitar, studying other languages, staying active, and participating in the competitive girls volleyball intramural are all things she loves to do. She also enjoys spending time with friends and family.

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Bella Strash

Meet Bella! Bella is an undergraduate researcher in her junior year of her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Texas A&M. Bella is planning on taking her MCAT in May of 2022 in hopes of being accepted to Texas A&M's medical school for the Fall of 2023. Bella, beginning her first semester at Texas A&M during the Spring of 2021, was eager to continue and expand her understanding in the field of biology as an Aggie. Her first biology course taken at Texas A&M was with Dr. Zarin where she was both challenged and inspired to advance her understanding in biology. She is excited to continue to broaden her knowledge and understanding of biology with a focus in neuroscience while participating in Dr. Zarin's lab.

 

In her spare time, she enjoys working out at Orangetheory, spending time outside, nannying, listening to podcasts, working with her sorority philanthropy, and shadowing different medical specialties. She is most excited to participate in Dr. Zarins lab to practice problem-solving and hands-on science.  During her time as an Aggie she hopes to gain the knowledge, skills and experience needed to one day become a physician.

Interested in joining the lab?