Principal Investigator

Jason ShepherdPrincipal Investigator
Dr. Jason Shepherd is currently an Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine, with adjunct positions in the departments of Biochemistry and Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences. He joined the U in 2013 after obtaining postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. at the Johns […]
Phone: (801) 587-7854

 Postdoctoral Associates 

Madeleine Kyrke-SmithPostdoctoral Associate
Madeleine currently studies the role of Arc in long-term potentiation and long-term depression, synaptic plasticity mechanisms which are believed to underlie the formation and maintenance of memory. This work will extend to investigate how these plasticity mechanisms regulate the structure and function of neuronal networks, or engrams, the physical structure of memories in the brain.
Phone: 801-585-0926

Graduate Students

Andrew TaibiGraduate Student
I received my B.S. in Biology from Stony Brook University in New York. I then worked for several years studying the role of early transcription factor REST/NRSF in zebrafish development through the regulation of proneural genes under Prof. Howard Sirotkin. I also was able to study the role of Churchill in early development through its […]
Phone: 801-585-0926
Jenifer EinsteinGraduate Student
I completed my bachelors degree in Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh and worked in several labs in both academia and private companies as a technician. My interest in neuroscience and examining the molecular mechanisms of learning and memory eventually led me to the Ting Lab at MIT (now at Stanford) and then to Utah and the […]
Phone: 801-585-0926
Kyle JenksNIMH F31 NRSA - Graduate Student
Using in vivo electrophysiology and two photon imaging, Kyle is dissecting the role of Arc in critical period plasticity of the mouse visual cortex, and in developmental forms of plasticity necessary to “tune” neurons to properly respond to and encode visual stimuli in adulthood.
Phone: 801-585-0926
Rachel KearnsGraduate Student
I received my B.S. in biology from the University of Washington. During this time, I participated in biochemistry research aimed at determining the structure of the transition state in thioester hydrolysis under Dr. Lori Robins. I also worked with Dr. Felipe Guzman to develop fiber optic Fabry-Pérot optical resonators and study their application as displacement […]

Undergraduate Students


Cameron DayPostdoctoral Associate
 I received a B.S. in Neuroscience from Texas Christian University in 2008 where I worked in the lab of Gary Boehm, my research was focused on neuroimmune interactions in a mouse model.  I completed my PhD at UT-Southwestern Medical Center in February of 2014 in the lab of Phil Thomas.  My doctoral work centered on […]
Elissa PastuzynPostdoctoral Associate
Elissa studies the molecular function of the immediate-early gene Arc. She is examining how Arc is able to transfer its own RNA, as well as foreign RNA, intercellularly, and how this RNA is expressed and modulated in recipient cells. She utilizes both cultured neurons and cell lines. Pastuzyn, E.D., Day, C.D., Kearns, R.B., Kyrke-Smith, M., […]
Jenna NovyUndergraduate
I am a second-year undergraduate student studying biomedical engineering at the University of Utah. Under the guidance of graduate student Andrew Taibi and with funding from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), I am working to clone an activity-dependent synaptic reporter. My interest in neuroscience extends to the branch of neural engineering, which I hope […]
Jennifer IchidaPostdoctoral Associate
Mansi SarafUndergraduate
Nate YoderTechnician