Principal Investigator

Jason ShepherdPrincipal Investigator
Dr. 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 Hopkins […]
Phone: (801) 587-7854

 Postdoctoral Associates 

Kenneth LyonPostdoctoral Associate
I am an easy-going science enthusiast. I enjoy board games, archery, hiking, and fencing. The family I go home to every night is my dog (Newton), my cat (Tali), and my bird (Raziel). My Ph.D. work focused on visualizing translation in living cellsusing fluorescence microscopy. As a postdoc in Jason Shepherd’s lab I am aiming […]
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
Matt RegierPostdoctoral Associate
Matt completed his PhD at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, where he investigated the production of new ribosomes in memory consolidation. Now, he is working on the finer details of Arc’s role in learning and memory. Regier M, Liang J, Choi A, Verma K, Libien J, Hernández AI (2019) Evidence for Decreased Nucleolar PARP-1 as an […]
Michael HantakPostdoctoral Associate
Mike received his B.S. in Biology and Biochemistry from Illinois State University. There, he studied mechanisms of Listeria monocytogenes cold tolerance in the lab of Brian Wilkinson. He then pursued his Ph.D. with Tom Gallagher at Loyola University Chicago, where he investigated mechanisms of virus-cell entry. Mike is currently elucidating how virus-like Arc capsids transfer […]
Phone: 801-585-0926
Sven BervoetsPostdoctoral Associate
I received my PhD in Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, under the mentorship of Dr. Albena Jordanova. During this time, I studied the role of a cytoplasmic tRNA synthetase and its surprising nuclear role in Charcot-Marie-Tooth neuropathology. I used Drosophila melanogaster to show that both genetic and pharmacological exclusion of the […]

Graduate Students

Alicia GoinGraduate Student
  I received my B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Puget Sound. During that time, I conducted independent research examining the effect of synthetic cathinones on GnRH neurons in zebrafish under the guidance of Dr. Siddharth Ramakrishnan. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Neuroscience in the Shepherd Lab, where I […]
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 […]
Junjie XuGraduate Student
I received my B.S. in Biological Sciences from Sichuan University, China. During that time, I studied the CRISPR-Cas technique and tried to extend this technique to bacteria without the non-homologous end-joining pathway, under the guidance of Prof. Hong Feng. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D in neuroscience in Shepherd Lab, where I will study more […]
Mitali TyagiGraduate Student
I received my B.S. in Zoology from University of Delhi, India. I then earned my M.S. in Neuroscience from Jiwaji University, India. During that time, I examined the effect of maternal malnutrition on myelination in rat cerebrum at neonatal and adulthood stages. I worked for several years validating anti aggregation effects of secondary metabolites from […]
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


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
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
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. In Press: Jenks K, Shepherd JD. Experience-dependent development and maintenance of binocular […]
Phone: 801-585-0926
Mansi SarafUndergraduate
Nate YoderTechnician