Jenny Hsieh, Ph.D. | Semmes Distinguished Chair in Cell Biology
The most fascinating cell in the body is the stem cell. How a single pluripotent stem cell develops into the trillions of cells in the human body or how stem cells continue to give rise to new neurons in the adult brain remains a mystery. My lab studies the cellular, genetic, molecular, and circuit mechanisms of the brain and nervous system using human iPSCs, 3D brain organoids and mouse models. Outside of the lab, my family and I love to explore San Antonio at local music fests, rodeos, or hill country wineries. I also enjoy hosting get-togethers, especially inviting the team over for poolside relief in the Texas summer heat!
Sergio Gamero-Alameda, B.S.
I completed my bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Alcala, in Spain. I joined Hsieh Lab in 2017 at UT Southwestern as a lab technician. At UTSA, my role in the Hsieh lab changed to a lab manager. Outside of work, I spend my time birding, hiking and enjoying nature.
Vanesa Nieto-Estevez, Ph.D.
Hi there, I am Vanesa. I got my B.S. in Biology in the University of Alcala and my Ph.D in Neuroscience at the Cajal Institute (Madrid, Spain). I joined the Hsieh Lab in 2015 as a postdoctoral fellow; now I'm an Assistant Professor of Research at UTSA. I’m studying genetic epilepsy using 3D organoids. When I am not in the lab, I like traveling, especially to see animals in the wild.
Parul Varma, Ph.D.
Hi, this is Parul. I have my PhD in Nuclear Architecture and Chromatin Organization where I studied the role of nuclear matrix components using Drosophila melanogaster as the model system. Currently, I am studying gene expression dynamics in genetic and acquired epilepsies using mouse and human model systems. I am a Molecular Biologist turned into a Bioinformatician; now I'm an Assistant Professor of Research at UTSA. Recently, I have taken up interest in single cell data analysis and spend most of my time running codes and developing R skills. Other than lab, I love to work out, travel and take part in creative art classes.
Gabby Martinez, B.S.
My name is Gabby Martinez. I received my B.S. in Kinesiology with a minor in Biology from UTSA and am currently pursuing an M.S. in Kinesiology also at UTSA. I joined the lab in January 2023 as a Laboratory Technical Assistant. I've also been a professional powerlifter for two years now, hold five current American Records in various weight classes and divisions, and I have held a total of 21 American Records in my lifting career thus far. When I am not in the lab or on campus, I enjoy training for my next powerlifting meet and spending time with my two rescue dogs, rescue cat, and my friends and family.
Aranis Muniz Perez, B.S.
Hello! My name is Aranis Muniz Perez and I recently graduated UTSA with a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Neuroscience. I work as a research assistant in the Hsieh lab. Outside of the lab, I love reading, cooking, and going on hikes with my friends. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I hope to complete a PhD in cell biology and work as an industry scientist.
Gopu Changarathil, Ph.D.
I am a biomedical science researcher - experienced in stem cell sciences (4 years), behavioral neurosciences (1 year), clinical genetics (2 years) and microbiology (1 year) - from Japan and India. My strengths lie in excellent (biomedical) scientific communication, and scientific writing. Accustomed to working in international, cross-cultural and stressful work environments.
Eva Diaz Guerra, Ph.D.
Hi, my name is Eva. I have a PhD in the Stem Cell field. I was investigating the role of hormones in the mouse mammary gland stem cells. After that, I did my first postdoctoral research at the Cajal Institute (Spain). I was studying the role of transcription factors (Tbr1 and Nurr1) in olfactory bulb development. In addition, I was investigating the effects of APOE polymorphism in Alzheimer’s disease using iPSC technology. Recently, I joined the Hsieh’s Lab and I am interested in studying sporadic Alzheimer’s disease and genetic epilepsy using 3D brain organoids. Outside of work, I enjoy traveling with my family and friends.
Erin Hurley, Ph.D.
Hi, I'm Erin, a recent graduate from the Neuroscience PhD program. Currently, I'm working as a postdoc in the Hsieh lab. I grew up in the Boston area and got my undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut, but I got sick of the winter so now I'm here in Texas where there's no such thing as winter. I am interested in studying the molecular mechanisms underlying familial Alzheimer's disease and my favorite brain cell type is microglia. I also love NASA and my long-term goal in life is to go to the moon. In my little free time, I enjoy running away to different cities and exploring new places.
Courtney McMahon, Ph.D.
The Army Reserve is what first brought me to San Antonio, and I fell in love with the city, chips and queso, and UTSA. I began my graduate studies as a masters student in a microbiology and immunology lab, which inspired me to pursue my PhD, albeit in a neural stem cell lab. Recently I graduated from the CMB PhD program and I'm a postdoc in the Hsieh lab. Currently, my research involves using hESC-derived cerebral spheroids to study the effects of maternal exposures during pregnancy on the development of the fetal brain. If I’m not in the lab, I’m outside somewhere with my dog or socializing with the other Hsieh lab students over wine.
Kaisha Meyer, B.S.
My name is Karina (I go by my middle name, Kaisha) and I'm a PhD student in the Neuroscience program at UTSA. My fascination in brain metabolism and its dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases lead me to pursue a PhD, so here I am. Currently, I am using patient derived induced pluripotent stem cells to model Alzheimer's disease with the end goal of uncovering convergent mechanisms between epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. I love to sleep, hike, run, and runaway to the mountains.
Zacharie Maloney, B.S., M.S.
Zacharie Maloney is a PhD student in UTSA's Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Joint UTSA/UTHSC Graduate Group in Biomedical Engineering. Zach's project focuses on using engineering approaches to promote vascularization of human cerebral organoids. Joining the Hsieh Lab in Fall 2021, Zach brings experience in biomedical engineering, systems biology, and software engineering.
Adebayo "Bayo" Adeyeye, B.S., M.S.
I have a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and an M.S. degree in Environmental Science investigating the concentrations and movement of estrogen compounds in Cibolo Creek, a perennial stream in the Texas Hill Country that receives treated wastewater effluent. I assist with retrovirus packaging, molecular biology, histology, and confocal microscopy. I also help with animal husbandry and perform behavioral assays including cognitive testing in mouse models of mTLE. The lab members are awesome to work with. In my free time, I watch and play soccer.
Sara Mirsadeghi, B.S., M.S.
Hi there, I’m Sara. I got my B.Sc. from Shahid Beheshti University in Biology and my M.Sc. from the ROYAN institute in Developmental Biology, both in Tehran, Iran. I worked as a research associate in the electrophysiology lab in ROYAN institute for six years and have joined the Hsieh lab in 2023 as a Ph.D. candidate. I’m interested in neurogenesis, either in adult brain or brain organoids. I’m studying the adult neurogenesis contribution to hippocampal activity, especially in epileptic hippocampus. I’m also interested in the concept brain-on-chip! And what does that mean? It means that you can put the organoids onto electrodes and record their network activity or employ electrical stimulation to manipulate their activity. My aim throughput this Ph.D. is to learn from nature by recording the electrical activity of hippocampal circuit in mice brain, then, grow hippocampal organoids in a dish and record their network activity via multi-electrode array chips. Outside of work, I’d like to take long distance walks, read books and watch TV shows. I’m definitely a travel lover and don’t miss a chance to roam around the globe!
Hello! My name is Marissa Coppin and I am a junior undergraduate researcher pursuing a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Psychology and a concentration in Pre-Medicine. Outside of working in the Hsieh lab and other extracurricular clubs, I am a director of STEMulate, a nonprofit organization that works to provide STEM education to disadvantaged districts in San Antonio. I also enjoy exercising and eating a healthy diet. After my undergraduate degree, I hope to pursue a DO/PhD or MD/PhD medical degree and become a physician specializing in either neurology or PM&R.
Hi! My name is Abril Fernandez, and I am a sophomore undergraduate research assistant. I am majoring in Neuroscience with a concentration in Molecular and a certificate in Healthcare Interpreting. I am a local to San Antonio, aka the best city in the world. When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy watching the latest Marvel show/movie and the USWNT. I also love eating! After finishing my bachelor’s, I am going to complete a master’s in Cell Systems and Anatomy. Afterwards, I will pursue a MD/PhD to specialize in psychiatry and study the correlation between neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.
Hi! My name is Alina Philip, and I am a freshman undergraduate research student working at the Hsieh lab. I am pursuing a major in Biology and possibly a concentration in Neurobiology. After completing my degree, I intend to use the skills and training I’ve learned from this research lab to pursue a career either in the medical field as an internist or earn a PhD and conduct my own research! When I’m not in school or the lab, I enjoy traveling and photography. Fun fact: I just bought my very first camera!
Hey! My name is Mia Soerensen and I am a freshman undergraduate research student majoring in neuroscience with a pre-medicine concentration. Outside of the lab I enjoy being outside and spending time with my friends, I am also a part of the women’s volleyball team at UTSA! After completing my undergraduate degree, my goal is to go to medical school and become a neurologist.
Hello, My name is Diana Perez and I am a Sophomore undergraduate researcher pursuing a Bachelors in Neuroscience, a concentration in Pre-Medical Neuroscience, and a minor in Biology. I am not from San Antonio, but I was born and raised in Laredo, Tx. Outside of the lab, I attend the Pre-Medical Society at UTSA, I volunteer at Corazon Clinic, and at Peterson Clinic. Furthermore, I enjoy hanging out with friends and family. After my undergraduate degree I would love to pursue my MD/PhD in order to become a Neurologist one day!
Hello! My name is Yanessa Vitela and I am an undergraduate research student pursuing a B.S. in Biology with a Pre-Medical concentration here at UTSA. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas, but my time in San Antonio has helped me grow academically, socially, and professionally. Outside of the Hsieh Lab, I am an active member of VAW Global Health Alliances, an organization committed to providing underserved communities with access to medical treatment, as well as Women in Medicine, a women’s organization that dives into the field of healthcare and gives students the opportunity to speak with physicians in different specialties. While often busy, I value spending time with friends and family and make sure to squeeze that in whenever I can! After receiving my undergraduate degree, I hope to attend medical school and become a physician specializing in pediatric neurology or neonatology.
Hello! My name is Yelena Nuñez and I am a senior undergraduate research student pursuing a B.S in Biology. I transferred from the Alamo Colleges where I obtained an associate degree in science. I was born in California and moved all around until my family and I settled down in San Antonio. After earning my degree my goal is to become a physician assistant, or perhaps go for a MD/PhD. When I'm not on campus I enjoy baking treats for my family, traveling and going to local coffee shops.