The Program Chair and Supervisory Committee oversee the activities of Neuroscience Program.  General program questions relating to University requirements, procedures, and deadlines may be directed to the Administrative Assistant. Feel free to contact them if you have any questions about the program. 

Program Chair:
Elizabeth Stegemoller

Associate Professor, Kinesiology
111K Forker Building
(515) 294 – 5966


Supervisory Committee Members:

Auriel Willette

Assistant Professor, Food Science & Human Nutrition
224D MacKay Hall

(515) 294-3110



Jinoh Kim

Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences

Vet Med 2086

(515) 294-3401



Peter Clark

Assistant Professor, Food Science & Human Nutrition

224B MacKay Hall

(515) 294-9770



Elizabeth McNeill

Assistant Professor, food Science & Human Nutrition

224A MacKay Hall

(515) 294-7421



Administrative Assistant:

Brenda Emery

220 MacKay Hall

(515) 294-6442



Name Department Research Interests
Hua Bai GDCB The Bai lab is interested in one of the most fascinating, yet poorly understood phenomena in biology: How animals age? By elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of aging and uncovering the secret of Fountain of Youth, we hope that we can find ways to prevent age-associated diseases and prolong the healthspan of global aging population. Drosophila Genetics, Genomics, Behavior and Imaging Analysis are frequently used in our lab to tackle a variety of aging-related questions.
Sarah Bentil ME Applications of experimental and computational methods to investigate the mechanism of traumatic brain injury, following blast or blunt loading to the head. Interested in characterizing the mechanical response of brain tissue.
Jason Chan Psychology

Memory distortions and eyewitness suggestibility; the effects of aging on memory performance; applying cognition to education; prospective memory.

Baoyu (Stone) Chen BBMB We study the fundamental mechanisms by which neuronal receptors control the actin cytoskeleton to drive diverse neuronal activities, including neuronal morphogenesis, structural plasticity, and cell-cell communication.

Li-Shan Chou


My research falls under general areas related to biomechanics and motor control of human movement, with focuses on the investigation of mobility impairments associated with ageing, musculoskeletal diseases or injuries, and traumatic brain injury.

Peter Clark


My research theme encompasses the impact of physical activity status and diet on neural plasticity, mood, and cognitive performance.  This includes 1) uncovering mechanisms behind how the brain metabolically adapts to exercise or dietary supplementation and how these changes promote cognitive function or confer protection against the damaging consequences of stress.  2) Exploring the ways in which exercise-enhanced adult hippocampal neurogenesis buffer stress and improve memory.  3) Identifying neural changes resulting from exposure to stress that affect willingness to engage in physical activity and diet choice.

Heather Greenlee BMS

The effect of the Alzheimer's protein, beta-amyloid on neural stem cell differentiation. The developmental proteome of retinal progenetor cells. The importance of vesicle trafficking protein, SNAP-25 for photoreceptor differentiation and development.

Justin Greenlee BMS Research description coming soon....
John Grundy Psych We are constantly dealing with competition from stimuli in our environments and we must selectively attend to relevant cues and ignore interfering information. My research program stems from my interest in understanding how our brains and behaviours adapt in response to these conflicting signals – signals that are cognitively demanding and require attentional control. Of particular interest are experiential factors that modify these cognitive processes in dealing with conflict such as bilingualism, exercise, self-esteem, and mindfulness. The ultimate goal is to understand how experience reorganizes brain processes and neural networks across the lifespan to become more efficient.
Nicole Hashemi ME Dr. Nicole Hashemi’s research interests are in the areas of microfluidics and biomaterials. She is using her expertise with the microfluidic manufacturing of 3D microstructures to better understand neural processes. Her lab investigates traumatic brain injury and blood brain barrier.
Jonathan Kelly Psych

Spatial cognition, including space perception, spatial memory, and navigation; Virtual reality; Neural basis of spatial cognition. 

Jinoh Kim BMS Studying the mechanisms of protein export from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) using biochemical and cell biological approaches. Implications for Alzheimer's disease.
Marian Kohut Kinesiology


Wes Lefferts Kinesiology Understanding how vascular health and function alters blood flow patterns in the brain and ultimately contribute to brain health and cognitive function.
Surya Mallapragada Chemical Engineering

Our research program is focused on designing polymers and biomaterials with tailored micro/nanostructures to precisely control function and properties at the molecular and cellular levels. Our two broad focus areas are: 1) smart polymers and 2) neural tissue engineering.

Maura McGrail GDCB

Molecular basis of animal development and the mechanisms underlying cancer in humans.  We use the zebrafish, Danio rerio, a model system for studying the molecular genetics of vertebrate development and human disease.

Elizabeth McNeill FSHN The role of microRNAs in neuromuscular junction (NMJ) development and plasticity in response to neuronal stimulus.
Jacob Meyer KIN

Dr. Meyer’s Wellbeing and Exercise (WellEx) laboratory is focused on understanding how exercise and sedentary activities are related to mental health and wellbeing. The laboratory’s overall goal is to help people change behavior to improve their psychological health and reduce the impact of chronic conditions (e.g., depression, chronic pain, fatigue, etc.). We look at the mental health effects of single sessions of exercise, chronic exercise training, regular physical activity, and high sedentary time using a psychobiological lens.

Jonathan Mochel BMS At the crossroad of our ongoing investigations on intestinal organoids (SMART Translational Medicine) and clinical/computational pharmacology (SMART Pharmacology), my group has initiated some work on the interplay between dietary interventions (e.g., high-fat high carbohydrate diets), the gut microbiome and the intestinal epithelium in the context of chronic inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, and colon cancer.
Don Sakaguchi GDCB

Developmental neurobiology, stem cell biology, stem cell transplants as a strategy for CNS rescue and repair, development and plasticity of vertebrate visual systems.

Ravindra Singh BMS

Interest of his group has been to understand the mechanism of alternative splicing, a vital process that increases the coding potential of genome in all higher eukaryotes. Alternative splicing is also associated with a growing number of diseases including neurological and neuromuscular disorders, cardiovascular disorders and cancer.

Ann Smiley-Oyen Kinesiology

How the basal ganglia and cerebellum contribute to motor control and motor learning. Parkinson's disease and cerebellar dysfunction studied, and developmental dyslexia and developmental coordination disorder. Long-range goal: to impact therapeutic practice.

Elizabeth Stegemoller Kinesiology

Our research aims to understand how music influences movement and associated cortical activity in healthy adults and persons with Parkinson's disease, and to examine rehabilitation strategies that use music to improve movement performance in persons with Parkinson's disease.  

Thimmasettapp Thippeswamy BMS

Overall research theme is disease modification in epilepsy. The primary focus is to investigate the mechanism of epileptogenesis in view of identifying new therapeutic targets and diagnostic biomarkers. The hypothesis is that neuroprotectants revert neuron-glial miscommunication that occurs after a first seizure. To test this hypothesis, a variety of techniques such as real-time remote video-telemetric EEG, neurological behavioral tests, proteomics, neurobiological (immunohistochemistry and histology) and biochemical analyses are employed.

Eric Underbakke BBMB

Architecture and assembly of scaffolded signaling complexes in the post-synaptic density. Our lab employs mass spectrometry and chemical tools to probe the interactions and post-translational modifications that contribute to synaptic signaling strength and plasticity.

Rudy Valentine Kin

My research program is focused on three intersecting themes: (1) identifying the mechanisms through which behavioral (e.g., exercise and diet) and pharmacologic therapies mitigate disease pathogenesis; (2) developing therapeutic strategies to prevent and treat physiological dysfunction; and (3) investigating the interactions of obesity, aging, and inflammation on predisposition to health impairments.

Auriel Willette


The impact of obesity and metabolic dysfunction on structural and functional neuroimaging outcomes using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Our integrative neuroscience laboratory pairs neuroimaging data with cognitive performance and affect/emotion, body composition imaging, and physiological biomarkers (ELISA, RIA, proteomics). This research is also directed toward understanding the biological and neural underpinnings of neurological disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.

Admission of New Neuroscience Faculty


In considering an applicant for membership in the Neuroscience Faculty, the applicant’s activities in the following areas during the previous five years are examined. 

    1. The applicant must be dedicated to graduate education and must show evidence of maintaining high standards of scholarship. 

    2. The applicant must be committed to the idea of interdisciplinary training and must be willing to participate actively in the affairs of the Neuroscience Program, attend the Neuroscience seminars and encourage students to do the same. 

    3. The applicant must have an active, high quality, research program.  The quality of the research program will be judged on the basis of a complete curriculum vita,


The applicant will provide their curriculum vita with relevant information pertaining to their interests in neuroscience highlighted. This includes, but is not limited to, publications, grants, teaching, service, and mentoring. The applicant will also provide a brief statement to address items 1 and 2 above. This material will be submitted via e-mail to the DOGE. The DOGE will share the information with the Supervisory Committee for review. The Supervisory Committee submits their recommendation to the DOGE. If positive, the DOGE will send the information from the candidate and ballot to the Neuroscience faculty for vote via e-mail. A positive vote of more than 50% indicated faculty acceptance. The DOGE informs the applicant of the decision of the Neuroscience faculty.  Election is for a term of five years.


Renewal of Neuroscience Membership


While the primary point for exercising quality control is at admission, membership in the program depends on continued evidence of research productivity and graduate student training.  Criteria for retention of membership are, therefore, the same as those for the original selection plus evidence of active participation is the affairs of the Neuroscience Program.


The faculty whose membership in Neuroscience will expire at the end of the academic year, are notified by the DOGE and asked to review and bring their files up to date to reflect accurately their research and graduate student training activities.  The faculty member will submit their curriculum vita with relevant information pertaining to their research interests and involvement in Neuroscience highlighted. This includes, but is not limited to, publications, grants, teaching, service and mentoring. The applicant will also provide a brief statement of their participation in the Neuroscience Program in the last five years. This material will be submitted via e-mail to the DOGE. The DOGE will share the information with the Supervisory Committee for review.  The Supervisory Committee will review the credentials of the members under consideration for renewal. The Supervisory Committee submits their recommendation to the DOGE. The DOGE informs the faculty member of the decision.  If in the judgment of the Supervisory Committeee a member is not actively participating in the Neuroscience Program and the faculty member still wishes to be renewed, the member may submit additional supporting documentation for membership to be continued.  Any member whose renewal application has been denied by the Supervisory Committee may request that the Neuroscience faculty review the application. Election is for a term of five years.


For more information, please see our Governance Document.