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Postdocs and Research Scientists

Morgan Robinson

Morgan Robinson is a postdoctoral fellow who joined the Yang lab in February 2024. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo (Canada) studying Alzheimer’s disease using multidisciplinary approaches from biophysics to molecular and cell. He previously held a postdoctoral industry fellowship to work on the development of a Dravet syndrome gene therapy. Motivated by a passion for curing genetic disease, he joined the Yang Lab to develop iPSC-derived brain models and gene editing strategies for SCN2A-related epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder, and DNMT1-related neurodegeneration.

Morgan is a recipient of the Purdue University Lillian Gilbreth Engineering Fellowship 2024-2026.

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JingLiang Zhang

Jingliang is a research scientist since 2023. Jingliang started as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab since 2018. He graduated from Peking University Health Science Center (from BS to PhD). 

He is interested in neuroscience and specializes in models of ischemic stroke, learning and memory, and epilepsy, with the skill of animal experiments and electrophysiology related (EEG, In vitro electrophysiological whole-cell patch recordings, and cell-attached patch recordings, etc.)

Jingliang is a co-recipient of the 2021 FamilieSCN2A Action Potential Award.


Xiaoling Chen

Xiaoling is a research scientist since 2023. Xiaoling started as a postdoc in the lab since October 2021. She received her Ph.D. in molecular and cellular pharmacology from Peking University in 2020 where her thesis focused on neurodegenerative disease and ion channelopathy, such ischemia stroke, and epilepsy. Her current research focus on the engineering of brain organoids assembloids to interrogate human neural circuits of Scn2a loss of function and using in vivo calcium image simultaneously mice are freely moving to study autism-associated Scn2a gene.

Xiaoling is a co-recipient of the 2021 FamilieSCN2A Action Potential Award, and a recipient of the 2023 AES postdoctoral fellowship.

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Jiaxiang (Jax) Wu

Jax is a postdoc joining the lab in July 2022. He earned his Ph.D. in the school of life science from Shanghai University and was a visiting PhD student in the Yang lab during that time. His current research focuses on the interaction between microglia and neurons. He is trying to figure out how microglia regulate neuronal excitability and plasticity related to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., autism,  epilepsy, and dementia) by using cellular and molecular biology as well as electrophysiological methods.

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Ye-Eun Yoo

Ye-Eun is a postdoc researcher joining the lab in October 2022. She received her Ph.D. from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in South Korea. During her Ph.D. program, she focused on the characterization of autism-model mice carrying a mutation in the postsynaptic protein by behavioral analyses and electrophysiological experiments. She joined the Y lab to expand her skills in iPSC-derived neuron models and to study mutation in the voltage-gated sodium channel so that she can keep her research interest in unraveling the pathophysiology of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Now she is trying to decipher the molecular/cellular alteration induced by Scn2a-mutation using transcriptomic analysis and mouse models combined with human stem cells.

Ye-Eun is a co-recipient of the 2023 FamilieSCN2A Action Potential Award.

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Graduate Students and post-baccalaureate researchers

Erik A. Rossi

Erik is a PhD student and visiting scholar from Brazil and holds a Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences from Salvador University. Currently enrolled in the Experimental Pathology Program (PgPAT) at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), he is dedicated to researching SCN2A variants associated with loss of function. Employing iPSC-derived models, Erik endeavors to unravel the impact of these variants on cellular phenotypes, contributing valuable insights to our understanding of this intricate biological process. Erik joined to the lab in 2023.

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Maria Olivero-Acosta

Maria obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Cartagena in Colombia. As an undergraduate student, she conducted virtual screenings using natural product libraries to identify potential chemopreventive agents through the modulation of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors. After completing her degree, she joined the YLab in 2018, where she has been developing hiPSC-derived cortical neuron models, including 2D monolayers and cortical spheroids, to investigate rare epilepsy-associated SCN2A mutations.

Aside from her research, Maria is passionate about teaching and mentorship. She has served as a Teaching Assistant at Purdue's Imaging facilities, where she trained users from multiple disciplines in microscopy. She is also an active mentor to undergraduate and pharmacy students, helping them to develop the skills and knowledge needed to excel in their studies and careers. When she's not working, Maria enjoys traveling and visiting museums, fueling her curiosity and passion for science and the world around her.


Kyle Wettschurack

Kyle earned his B.S. in Biochemistry from Purdue University in 2018 and an M.S. degree from Purdue University in Chemical Engineering in 2021. He is now a Ph.D. student in Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. His current research interest is in assessing the effects of mutated DNMT1 on the neuron and microglia function. By using iPSC-derived cells, he is investigating the cause of neuron degradation in this disease model. Kyle joined the lab in 2021.

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Brody Deming

Brody Deming is a nationally registered Emergency Medical Technician who earned his B.S. in Biochemistry from Indiana University South Bend where he was awarded the ACS Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry. At Indiana University South Bend, he conducted research in synthetic organic chemistry, biochemistry, and hospital operations. He is now a Ph.D. student in Purdue’s Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Department. He has joined the Y lab, and one of his projects will be focused on evaluating a DNMT1 mutation in mouse models. He is also interested in how psychedelic compounds affect the brain. Brody joined the lab in 2021.


Yuanrui (Gray) Zhao

Gray earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmaceutical Science at Purdue University.


He’s recently joined the Y lab and is interested in neuroscience and neurodegenerative disease. His current research involves exploring brain activity using in vivo and computational methods. Outside of the lab, he is a member of Dance All Out. Gray joined the lab in 2021.

Gray is a recipient of the Chappelle fellowship.


Manasi Halurkar

Manasi is a PhD student in Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. She earned her Bachelors in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Mumbai and MS in Pharmacology & Toxicology from Wright State University, Dayton OH in 2019 with research work in Ischemic stroke. She worked in Juan Sanchez Gurmaches' lab at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center as a Research Assistant where she worked on adipose tissue biology, thermogenesis alongside mouse colony & lab management. She is interested in neuroscience research, more focused on neurodegenerative diseases. Manasi joined the lab in December 2022.

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Purba Mandal

Purba earned her Bachelors in Chemistry in 2020 from St. Xavier’s College and Masters in Chemistry in 2022 from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India. She joined the lab in April 2023 and is a PULSe (Interdisciplinary Life Sciences) PhD student in the Integrative Neuroscience group. Her current research interest is in understanding the effect of DNMT1 mutation using iPSC derived neuron models. She also wants to understand the epigenetic changes that occurs due to the mutation. Besides lab, she loves travelling, hiking, dancing and going out on random walks. :)  


Shivam Kant

Shivam is a Ph.D. student who joined the Yang Lab in 2023. He completed his bachelors in Biological sciences and Bioengineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK). He has a background in biological data analysis, molecular biology, structural biology and biochemistry. At the Y Lab, he wants to learn about the mutations in SCN2A gene responsible for neurodevelopmental disorders like Autism and Epilepsy and uncover the molecular mechanisms of diseases progression caused by mutations in this gene. In the future, he hopes to find an effective cure for these debilitating diseases and improve the quality of life of children affected by them. His hobbies are trekking, photography and playing squash.


Undergraduate and Pharmacy Students

 Kathryn Lund

Kate is a junior studying Biology and minoring in Chemistry. She plans to attend medical school upon completion of her undergraduate degree at Purdue and has an interest in teaching higher education. Kate is involved in genotyping and axon initial segment staining in the lab alongside Yuanrui (Gray) Zhao as well as data analysis alongside Dr. Cui. Outside of the lab, Kate has served on the executive team of Purdue CHAARG, she volunteers for a local hospice care center, and is an EKG technician at IU Health Arnett.   


Akila Abeyarantha

Akila is a Junior in Biochemistry at the College of Agriculture with plans to study cognitive neuroscience and evolution, especially models of autism and higher-level thinking. She is involved in the DNMT1 and SCN2A project alongside her research mentor Brody Deming. Outside of the lab, she works in PACER lab as a research assistant running EEGs on human subjects and as a teaching intern for Dr. Camarillo's BIOL131.   

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Arth Maindarkar     

Arth is an undergraduate student in the class of 2023 studying Data Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science. In the lab he analyzes data collected by extracellular brain probes. Outside of the lab he enjoys various intramural sports and works part time at Community Health Network as a network analytics intern.


Matthew Susuki

Matthew is an undergraduate student studying Biochemistry and Japanese. He plans to attend graduate school and get a PhD after his undergraduate career at Purdue. He is involved in cell culture and immunostaining experiments alongside his research mentor Kyle Wettschurack and was previously involved in genotyping for the lab’s SCN2A mouse model. Outside the lab, he is the vice president of JSA and a Japanese tutor for Purdue.


Priya Veluri

Priya is an undergraduate research assistant studying Health Science. In lab, she is involved with cell culturing and cell imaging alongside mentor Kyle Wettschurack. Outside of lab, Priya is involved in Purdue's HHS mentoring program and Purdue's Neuroscience Society.  


Benjamin Zirkle

Benjamin is a junior pursuing majors in Neurobiology and Physiology along with minors in Math and Chemistry. His area of research involves studying physiological characteristics of mutated DNMT1 neurons and microglia by using iPSC-derived cells. He is hoping to become a physician-scientist in the future, aiming to find definitive treatments for major depression and Bipolar. Outside of his work, he is a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and regularly volunteers his time to help families struggling with ALS.

Muhan Wang

Muhan is a PharmD candidate in the class of 2025. She earned her B.S degree in Biology in University of Wisconsin-Madison with certificates in Global Health and Biocore. She is interested in pursuing a career in pharmaceutical industry after graduation.   


C. Max Otterbacher

Max is a junior studying Neurobiology and Physiology with plans to attend medical school upon the completion of his undergraduate career at Purdue. He is involved in calcium imaging experiments alongside research mentor Maria Olivero. Outside of the lab, he is a nursing assistant at Northwest Health, resident assistant at Tarkington Hall, and is on the executive board for Caduceus Club, Ross-Ade Brigade, and Purdue Men’s Club Basketball.


Rachel Onken

Rachel is studying biochemistry in the College of Agriculture. She's interested in drug discovery and development. In the lab she work with genotyping and immunostaining. Outside of lab she is the president of Boilermakers for Life. 


Hope Elizabeth Harlow

Hope joined the lab in October 2022 as a first-year pre-Pharmacy student. She received an A.S. in liberal arts from Grace College and intends to pursue her Pharm-D at Purdue University. She has developed a passion for neuroscience working under the guidance of graduate student Maria Olivero and assisting her with neuronal morphology experiments. In her free time, Hope enjoys playing music and traveling. Hope is a recipient of the Lilly Endowment Gift Undergraduate Summer Research Award. 



Zhefu "Jeff" Que (Obtained PhD from Yang lab)

Jeff graduated from China Pharmaceutical University and earned a M.S. degree at Illinois Institute of Technology. His current research mainly focuses on epilepsy and autism related sodium channel mutations. By using patch-clamp and multi-electrode array recording techniques on models of iPSC-derived neurons , he is trying to figure out how the biophysical properties of sodium channel with mutations have been changed, and how it contributes to these diseases.​ Jeff joined the lab in 2017.

Jeff is a recipient of the Lynn Fellowship. 

Jeff started his graduate research with the Yang lab in Fall 2017, defended his dissertation, and got his PhD in Dec. 2022. After graduation, Jeff joined Eli Lilly and Co. as a research scientist working on next-generation therapeutics to treat a variety of neurological diseases. 


Muriel Eaton (Obtained PhD from Yang lab)

Muriel Eaton is a PhD student in Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy. She earned a BS cum laude in Biochemistry from Kansas State University in May 2017. Her research in the Yang lab focused on characterizing SCN2A deficient mouse models related to autism and epilepsy. She is involved in the American Chemical Society, Alpha Chi Sigma (professional chemistry fraternity), and the Purdue Reamer Club. In her spare time, Muriel enjoys spending time with her cats and driving her Camaro. Muriel joined the lab in 2017.

Muriel is a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. 

Muriel started her graduate research with the Yang lab in Fall 2017, defended her dissertation in April 2022, and got her PhD in May 2022. After graduation, Muriel currently works as a clinical scientist at MED Institute of Cook Research in West Lafayette, IN, coordinating clinical trials to help patients in a different capacity. 

Gloria I. Morales Quintana

My name is Gloria Morales Quintana. In June 2022, I received Bachelor's degree in Biology with an emphasis in Biomedical Science from the University of Puerto Rico, Aguadilla. One of my long-term goals is to continue my studies to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. My research interest includes Psychiatric and Neurological disorders. Specifically, I’m interested in understanding how these disorders develop and which genetic or environmental factors could lead to these conditions. Fun fact, my first research wasn’t related to Neuroscience at all! It was actually related to Ecology, even so, I had the opportunity to learn more about research, conference, networking and so many others. Right now, I’m one of the participants in the Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) in Dr. Yang’s lab studying autism, epilepsy, and dementia using mouse models and brain organoid models. Gloria joined the lab in 2021.

Gloria joined Mayo Clinic in 2023 to pursue her PhD.


Zhenjun "Tom" Tan

Tom is a Senior Research Associate who joined the lab in February 2023. He graduated from the School of Medicine, Wuhan University (M.D. and M.Sc.).

​His prior major research fields: (1) Characterizing morphological, physiological, and pharmacological properties of the spinal cord, brain stem, and cortex neurons with in vivo or in vitro electrophysiological studies; (2) Exploring neuroprotection/ neuroregeneration agents with neuro-injury models in rodents such as ischemic stroke, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury models; (3) Investigating modulation of gastrointestinal motility and hormonal release by vagal nerve and stomach electrical stimulation to seek therapeutic potentials for GI disorders such as obesity and diabetes mellitus. As a neuroscientist, Zhenjun participates in ongoing projects in the Yang lab.

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Ningren Cui

Ningren is a Research Associate who joined the lab in 2021. 

Ningren has extensive experience in patch-clamp recording and will help graduate students and postdocs push projects forward. 

Ningren is now retired and enjoying his life in Canada.


Layan Yunis

Layan is an undergraduate research assistant studying Brain & Behavioral Sciences. She is involved with cell culturing and imaging experiments. Outside the lab, she is a medical scribe and an exec member of TEDxPurdueU.


Amanda Huntsman

Amanda is a PharmD candidate in the class of 2022 and her passions lie in policy, personalized medicine for patients, and harm reduction concerning the opioid crisis. At Purdue, she is involved in CPNP and APhA where she advocates as a student pharmacist for these issues. She reviews literature for targeted treatments of pain for patients. 


She graduated cum laude from Grace College in Winona Lake, IN in 2018 with a B.S. in Health Science. Currently, she hopes to pursue a fellowship in industry after Purdue. In her free time she enjoys going to concerts and listening to music. 

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ZhiXiong Ma

ZhiXiong is a Postdoc/visiting scholar. ZhiXiong graduated from National Institute of Biological Science (NIBS), Beijing, China​. His interests include circadian clock regulated-gene function in neurodegenerative disease, mood disorders, and channelopathies. He uses molecular biology, patch-clamp​, EEG recording, behavioral assays, and cell biology to study the reciprocal​ relationship between circadian clock and diseases/disorders.

Zhixiong now is a scientist in China. 

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Chloe Romero

Chloe is an undergraduate research assistant currently working on genotyping for ongoing lab work. As a freshman in pharmaceutical sciences, she is interested in neurology and psychology and hopes in the future to attend graduate school. Outside of the lab, she is the PP1 liaison for American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and enjoys horseback riding and reading.


YuJia (Mary) Wang

Mary is an undergraduate research assistant. She is currently a sophomore majoring  in Public Health concentrated in epidemiology and environmental science, with a minor in statistics. In the lab she's working on genotyping of the 1.8 mice. Her interests include pediatrics and psychology, hope to go to graduate school after graduating from Purdue. She's a member of Purdue University Chinese Students and Scholars Association, working to help international students like her. 

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Marshall Shafer

Marshall is a PharmD candidate in the class of 2022 who joined Y lab in February 2019. His research interests include drug product development and repurposing existing drugs for new indications. He is currently working on a drug screen to identify drugs and natural products that selectively inhibit mutant sodium channels, which can be developed into new therapeutics for the treatment of epilepsy. Marshall has teamed with Maria, whose skills in virtual drug screening will help identify essential structural motifs responsible for drug-target activity.


Marshall plans to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry, developing drugs for the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Marshall is the VP of Purdue NORML and in his spare time enjoys exercising and spending time with his wife.

Marshall is a recipient of the OUR Scholarship

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Anthony Park

Anthony was an undergraduate research assistant in Y lab before becoming a graduate student. He was in Biological Engineering at Purdue University with a concentration in Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering. He is studying seizure propagation through in vivo single unit recording and other bioinformatics and computational research. Outside of the lab, he's an enlisted soldier in the Indiana National Guard and participates in the Purdue Muslim Student Association.

Anthony is a recipient of Lynn Fellowship. 


Shirong Lai

Shirong Lai was a postdoc who joined the lab in 2019. She graduated from Peking University Health Science Center.

She is interested in neuroscience and specializing in animal surgery, learning and memory, epilepsy, with the skill of animal experiments and electrophysiology related (EEG, In vitro electrophysiological whole-cell patch recordings, etc.)

Shirong now is a professor in China.


Emily Coleman

Emily is an undergraduate research assistant. She received her BS in Biological Engineering in the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture at Purdue University. She also graduated from the University Honors College. In lab, she helps with behavior experiments and managing the mice colony. In her free time, Emily enjoys playing with her dog, Cooper, and cheering on the Purdue sports teams.

Current: Medical student, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis


Maggie Szakacs

Maggie Szakacs was a 2017-2018 graduate research assistant that assisted with setting up the lab, creating protocols, and reviewing previous literature. She is a 2019 Purdue Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) Candidate that hopes to work in managed care and the pharmaceutical industry after graduation. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, spending time with loved ones, and exploring new places in downtown Chicago. 

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Hyunhee Oh

I am 4th year student at Purdue Pharmacy school. It was such a great opportunity to learn about pharmacogenetics with Dr.Yang. I am currently in APPE rotation in Eli Lilly. Dr.Yang’s lab has helped me to be prepare for the rotation in the industry and I am grateful for the experience I had at the lab.


Xinhao Zhuang

Xinhao is an undergraduate research assistant. He is an undergraduate student of University of Oregon, majoring in biochemistry and psychology. He is working here for internship during summer  2018. Teaching is one of his interest, that he works as a teaching assistant in UO for organic chemistry lecture and lab. In sparetime, he is a member of edit team and is the manager of Huafeng magazine in UO, writing some beautiful articles.


Chris Cui

Chris Cui is an undergraduate research assistant. He is currently a junior major in Pharmacy(PharmD), Chemistry and Philosophy with a minor in Music History and Theory. His academic interest is in neurodegenerative diseases. He is also a tenor in Heart and Soul of Purdue Musical Organisation. 


Angela Jung

Angela Jung is a graduate research assistant. She is currently a 2019 Purdue University Doctor of Pharmacy candidate. She received animal handling training and assisted setting up animal behavior protocol. In her spare time, she enjoys watching movies and traveling around the world.

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Sarah Liu

Sarah Liu is an undergraduate research assistant. She is currently a junior in Biological Engineering at Purdue with a concentration in Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering and a minor in Forensic Sciences. Her interests include medical applications of biotechnology, molecular genetics, and cell biology. She plays violin in the Purdue Philharmonic Orchestra and is involved in Purdue Science Olympiad, Purdue iGEM, and the Purdue Exponent. 


Emma Lietzke

Emma Lietzke is an undergraduate research assistant. She is a sophomore in Biological Engineering at Purdue University with a concentration in Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering. In the lab, she assists Muriel with her projects, specifically mouse behavioral experiments. She is also a member of the Purdue Honors College. Outside of academics, she is a resident honors preceptor and is involved in Purdue’s Society of Women Engineers and Team Tech.

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