Blakely Lab

The Blakely Lab

The Blakely Lab: Undergraduate Students



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2014 Summer Students

Six undergraduate students were mentored in the Blakely Lab this summer. From left to right, they are:
- Megan Kechner, Michigan State University
- Pease Odiase, Fisk University
- Jarrod Smith, Vanderbilt University
- Robert Bruner, Emory University
- Sam Snider, Vanderbilt University
- David Roberts, Vanderbilt University
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Joseph Balbona
Class of 2017
Lab Mentor: Sarah Whitaker

I will be assisting in the behavioral analysis of novel genes that regulates dopamine signaling through the use computer aided visualization and data analysis. With the easy of the model system C. elegans, we can also study how drug treatments act on these novel genes to further dissect their contribution to dopamine action that may yield clues to mammalian brain disorders.

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Kristin Bater
Neuroscience Major, Class of 2014
Lab Mentor: Jane Wright


I am a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Neuroscience. My research involves the characterization and analysis of the proline transporter. More specifically, I am investigating the potential role of proline in synaptic transmission, focusing primarily on communication at glutamatergic synapses. The proline transporter has been observed in heterogeneous concentrations throughout the brain, with the greatest localization among these glutamatergic synapses. This may suggest that proline plays a modulatory role in the pre-synaptic release of glutamate.

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Helyn Grissom

Neuroscience Major, Class of 2015
Lab Mentor: Elizabeth Ennis


I am a junior majoring in Neuroscience in the College of Arts and Science.  My research with graduate student Elizabeth Ennis focuses on the pharmacology of the presynaptic choline transporter (CHT). Specifically, we are testing novel compounds derived from a high-throughput screen in an attempt to identify molecules that may elevate CHT activity and thereby provide needed choline for acetylcholine synthesis. My efforts focus on an area with significant clinical implications for diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, where deficits in acetylcholine secretion exist. 

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Lance Lehman

Neuroscience, Economics Major, Class of 2015
Lab Mentor: Ran Ye


I am a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences with Neuroscience/Economics double major. Currently the focus of my research is to assess the variations of multiple neurochemical traits in BXD Recombinant Inbred mouse strains. I use bioinformatic approaches to examine both the genetic control and the phenotypic correlates of these traits. I will also participate in the identification and characterization of novel regulators of 5-HT homeostasis and signaling using cell culture and transgenic animal models.

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Mike Levin

Neuroscience Major, Class of 2015
Lab Mentor: Linda Simmler


I am a Neuroscience major in the College of Arts and Science, Class of 2015. My research goal is to better understand the role of the neurotransmitter serotonin in cocaine addiction. The Blakely group has developed a transgenic mouse with a mutant serotonin re-uptake transporter, which does not bind the antagonist cocaine antagonist. We use this mouse model to determine the effect of cocaine binding at the serotonin transporter on cocaine-induced transcriptional and translational effects.

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Austin Mcmeekin

Neuroscience Major, Class of 2017
Lab Mentor: Alex Nackenoff


I am a Neuroscience Major in the College of the Arts & Sciences, class of 2017. Under the direction of Alex Nackenoff, a graduate student in the Department of Pharmacology, I am investigating the serotonergic mechanisms of SSRI antidepressant actions using the antidepressant-insensitive SERT I172M mouse model. These studies will aid the identification of mechanisms required for antidepressant efficacy and therefore support future efforts to develop faster acting antidepressants.

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Alexie Poch

Neuroscience Major, Class of 2014
Lab Mentor: Matt Robson


I am a senior majoring in Neuroscience in the College of Arts and Sciences. My research involves investigating whether mice with elevated basal levels of the serotonin transporter SERT have high levels of microglial cell activation. Specifically, I will be looking at mice with the Ala56 mutation, which has also been found in patients with autism. If microglial activation is evident, then it may be possible to characterize the different types of microglial cells involved. 

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David Roberts
Neuroscience Major, Class of 2015
Lab Mentor: Gwynne Davis


I am a junior majoring in Neuroscience in the College of Art and Science. I am hoping to assist on a project utilizing a genetic mouse model of ADHD. My project in the lab will be focused on biochemical aspects of this mouse. Specifically, I am interested in altered downstream dopaminergic signaling in the striatum. I will be looking at several key proteins and their activation in response to different dopaminergic agents between the wildtype and homozygous mice of the ADHD model.

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Jarrod Smith

Neuroscience Major, Class of 2015
Lab Mentor: Nicole Baganz


I am a junior in the College of Arts and Science from St. Louis, Missouri. I am majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Spanish, with the hope of becoming either a physician or medical scientist. I am working with Dr. Nicole Baganz on the impact of altered serotonin transporter regulation on brain biochemistry and behavior using novel transgenic mouse models.

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Sam Snider

Neuroscience and Philosophy Major, Class of 2015
Lab Mentor: Dan Bermingham


I am a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying neuroscience and philosophy. My research involves analysis of the dopamine transporter in C. elegans. Currently, I am exploring how dopamine signaling is regulated presynaptically in this model, assisting in characterizing novel regulators of dopamine signaling that may have conserved roles in humans.