Physiology & Neurobiology News



2024 CLAS Staff Excellence Award

Penny Dobbins was awarded the UConn CLAS 2024 Staff Excellence Award.

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2024 UConn AAUP Excellence Awards

Two PNB faculty members were awarded UConn AAUP 2024 Excellence Awards. John Redden was awarded the Teaching Innovation award. Randall Walikonis was awarded the Service Excellence award.

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UConn Today: “Revolutionizing the Cell Mapping Process

Linnaea Ostroff was featured in UConn Today for her novel cell mapping process, ultraplex microscopy.

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UConn Magazine: “The Anatomy of a Fruit Fly (Class)

Dr’s Geoffrey Tanner and Jeffrey Divino and PNB graduate student, Kate Gavilanes were featured in UConn Magazine for their Molecular Physiology in Drosophila Models course.

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Vice President for Academic Operations Appointment

Dr. Dan Schwartz has been appointed Vice President for Academic Operations as of January 12, 2024.

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Inaugural Howard Garrison Advocacy Fellow Recipient

John Redden has been selected to represent the American Physiological Society as a FASEB Garrison Science Advocacy Fellow.

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2023-2024 Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award Winner

Rebecca Oramas was awarded the 2023-2024 CETL Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award fellowship for her contribution to the classroom as a TA.

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2023 UConn AAUP Excellence Awards

Three PNB faculty members were awarded UConn AAUP 2023 Excellence Awards. Xinnian Chen was awarded the Teaching Excellence: Career award. Linnaea Ostroff was awarded the Excellence in Research & Creativity: Early Career award. Akiko Nishiyama was awarded the Excellence in Research & Creativity: Career award.

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WCSU’s Sophia Chiaia: summer SURF fellowship in Jianjun Sun’s lab

Western Connecticut State University student, Sophia Chiaia earned a fellowship to work in Dr. Jianjun Sun’s laboratory this summer of 2023.

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REU Site Award: Research Experiences in Physiology and Neurobiology at UConn

Dr. Joseph Crivello and co-investigator Dr. Karen Menuz were awarded an NSF/BIO/Directorate Biological Sciences award.

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Recent Graduates


Image Name Lab Semester Program Current Position
Jaseph Soto Perez Mulkey Lab Spring 2024 PhD
Nikki Rittenhouse Conover Lab Spring 2024 MS
Jordana Weinberger Yu Lab Spring 2024 MS Educational Program Assistant 1 Psychology Deparment University of Connecticut.
Luke Notaro-Roberts LoTurco Lab Spring 2024 MS
Rebecca Oramas Sun Lab Spring 2024 PhD Postdoctoral Research Associate Kuan Lab Brown University.
Andrew Beard Sun Lab Fall 2023 PhD
Morgan Macey Conover Lab Summer 2023 PhD
Danielle Caefer Schwartz Lab Summer 2023 PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Translational Neuroimmunology Research Center, Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases, Department of Neurology
Nissi Varghese Tzingounis Lab Summer 2023 PhD Associate Scientist, Post Doctoral Fellow, Merck
Mushirah Majid Conover Lab Spring 2023 MS
Alexandra Porczak Kanadia Lab Spring 2023 MS PhD student Wesleyan University
Elliott Wilion Nishiyama Lab Fall 2022 MS Research Associate II, Ultragenyx
Alisa White Kanadia Lab Fall 2022 PhD Postdoctoral Fellow, Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research, MIT Biology
Kyle Drake Kanadia Lab Fall 2022 PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School


Recent Publications


“Locus Ceruleus Dynamics Are Suppressed during Licking and Enhanced Postlicking Independent of Taste Novelty” Apr 22, 2024 Sciolino Lab
“Kir4.1 channels contribute to astrocyte CO2/H+- sensitivity and the drive to breathe” Mar 28, 2024 Mulkey Lab
“Track-by-Day: A standardized approach to estrous cycle monitoring in biobehavioral research”” Mar 12, 2024 Ostroff Lab
“ETS transcription factors regulate precise matrix metalloproteinase expression and follicle rupture in Drosophila”” Mar 1, 2024 Sun Lab
“A new era for myelin research in Neurofibromatosis type 1” Dec 7, 2023 Nishiyama Lab
“Rehydration of Freeze Substituted Brain Tissue for Pre-embedding Immunoelectron Microscopy” Sept 29, 2023 Ostroff Lab
“Cleavage of VAMP2/3 Affects Oligodendrocyte Lineage Development in the Developing Mouse Spinal Cord” Sept 27, 2023 Nishiyama Lab
“KCNQ2/3 Gain-of-Function Variants and Cell Excitability: Differential Effects in CA1 versus L2/3 Pyramidal Neurons” Sept 20, 2023 Tzingounis Lab
“Regulation of LRRK2 mRNA stability by ATIC and its substrate AICAR through ARE-mediated mRNA decay in Parkinson’s disease” Aug 1, 2023  Yu Lab
“Promyelinating drugs promote functional recovery in an autism spectrum disorder mouse model of Pitt-Hopkins syndrome” Aug 1, 2023  Mulkey Lab
“Click Chemistry for Visualization of Newly Synthesized RNA and Antibody Labeling on Ultrathin Tissue Sections” July 22, 2023 Ostroff Lab
“KCNQ2 channels regulate the population activity of neonatal GABAergic neurons ex vivo June 20, 2023 Tzingounis Lab
“The bHLH-PAS transcriptional complex Sim:Tgo plays active roles in late oogenesis to promote follicle maturation and ovulation” June 14, 2023 Sun Lab
“Minor intron splicing is critical for survival of lethal prostate cancer” June 08, 2023 Kanadia Lab
“Introns: the ‘dark matter’ of the eukaryotic genome” May 16, 2023 Kanadia Lab


Recent Grants

Alexander Jackson received a joint award with David Martinelli, UCH, from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for their project, A novel trans-synaptic adhesion complex as a regulator of hypocretin/orexin control of arousal. Link Here

Georgia Zarkada received an award from the Retina Research Foundation for her project, Modulation of retinal vascularization by endothelial cell genetic reprogramming.

Daniel Mulkey received an award from the DHHS/NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for his project, Molecular Signature of Parafacial Expiratory Neurons.

Xinnian Chen received an award from the National Science Foundation for her project, A Developmental Model to Understand the Process of Instructor Implementation of Evidence-Based Teaching Practices. Link Here

Andrew Moiseff received an NSF-DUE award as a Co-PI along with Tadarrayl Stark and PI, Daniel Burkey for their project Community, Identity, and Competence: Supporting Low-Income Students in Computing and the Data Sciences at the University of ConnecticutLink Here

Jeffrey Divino and John Redden received the Alan R. Bennett College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Public Health Policy Research Funding award for their project, Integrating Health Policy Into Undergraduate Life Science CurriculumLink Here

Natale Sciolino received an award from the Brain Research Foundation for her project, Impact of Locus Coeruleus Dynamics on Gustatory Cortex FunctionLink Here

Georgia Zarkada received an award from the National Institutes of Health for her project, Targeting TGFB Signaling to Treat Ocular Neovascular Disease. Link Here

Natale Sciolino, Alexander Jackson, and Anastasios Tzingounis received an internal grant from the Uconn College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for shared equipment for their project, Miniature microscopes in behaving rodents for animal vivarium and behavioral spaces. Link Here

Linnaea Ostroff received an award from the National Institutes of Health for her project, New Strategies for molecular cell-type labeling in volume electron microscopy. Link Here

Linnaea Ostroff received an award from the National Institutes of Health for her project, A Versatile Approach for Highly Multiplexed, High Resolution Imaging of Endogenous Molecules. Link Here

Jianjun Sun was a Co-PI on an award for Kazunori Hoshino of Biomedical Engineering for their project, A light-sheet microscopy (LSM)-based, spatially-resolved 3D dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) instrument for developmental biology and physiology. Link Here

Recent Awards

Alana Grant from the Jackson Lab, Akshara Iyer from the Yu Lab, and Carrie Epstein from the Kienzler Lab were chosen among all presenters at the PNB Symposium, 4/22/24, to present at the All Biology Symoposium, 4/26/24.

William Armstrong IV placed 1st, Julianna Herman placed 2nd, and Sydney Ballou placed 3rd in the 2023 Neuroscience at Storrs Symposium poster competition.


Andrew Beard and Danielle Caefer were selected to receive the PNB TA awards for excellence in teaching, 2022-2023.

Yetunde Akinlaja in Dr. Akiko Nishiyama’s lab earned the Kenneth & Paula Munson Family Fund for Student Support in Health Sciences Fellowship (ISG).

Monica Strain, a student in Dr. Daniel Mulkey’s lab was the recipient of an NIH F31 Fellowship.

Eugene Kim, an undergraduate student in Anastasios Tzingounis’ lab and William Armstrong IV, a graduate student in Alexander Jackson’s lab won the Nu Rho Psi Poster Award for Scientific Merit at the NEURON conference in April, 2023.

Recent Conferences

Alexander Jackson will serve as the Co-Vice Chair for the 2024 Inaugural Gordon Research Conference on Hypothalamus at Bates College in Maine. Link Here

Geoffrey Tanner co-organized the 2024 Neuron Conference April 21 at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University. Link Here

Alexander Jackson was the Co-Vice Chair for the 2022 Inaugural Gordon Research Conference on Hypothalamus in Ventura, CA. Link Here


  • The All Biology Symposium will take place on April 26, 2024. Winners from the departmental symposiums will compete for a chance to win biology wide awards, including the Ertman Award.
  • The PNB Symposium took place on April 22, 2024 in the PBB lobby. Graduating PNB seniors gave an oral presentation, and the top three winners will move on to the All Biology Symposium.
  • PNB hosted its first ever UConn PNB Lounge & Learn: Student Faculty Mixer on April 16, 2024 in TLS 154. Undergraduate students had the opportunity to learn about what research is available within PNB for undergraduate students and what it is like to work in a research lab.
  • Students from the prestigious Pomfret High School visited the GANT building March 1, 2024. Students had the opportunity to view the Anatomage Table and other physiology and anatomy equipment.