Who We Are
Who We Are
Building Researchers and Innovators in Neuroscience and Society (BRAINS) is a student organization dedicated to a higher understanding of the human mind and body. Its commitment to discovery, collaboration and developing technologies in the field of neuroscience provides an exciting environment for development, growth, and improvement of undergraduate and graduate research at Texas A&M University. In order to fulfill the mission of BRAINS, we provide an enriched environment, promoting interdisciplinary communication and scientific collaboration for all students interested in neuroscience research at Texas A&M University. In addition to scientific advancement amongst the students of Texas A&M, BRAINS is committed to the future of scientific education, funding, and discovery. In order to improve the future of neuroscience, BRAINS regularly participates in outreach activities in the community (i.e. Brain Day; Alzheimer’s Association Walk). It is critical for the public, young and old, to understand past and current work in neuroscience in order to appreciate the need for support, participation, and funding to continue these advances. Collectively, BRAINS is an organization focused on the perpetual pursuit of education, innovation, and unity for advocates of neuroscience within Texas A&M University and beyond.
Advisor – Sylvia Bernal
Officers 2023 – 2024
- Matthew Alwood
Howdy! My name is Matt Alwood and I’m a 3rd year graduate student in the TAMIN program. I work with Justin Moscarello studying active avoidance behavior in rats. Specifically, I’m interested in studying the role of the dorsal hippocampus in unsignalled active avoidance behavior. In my free time, I enjoy disc golfing at local parks, playing overly complex board games with friends, and trying out new restaurants.
I am Samantha Plas, a third-year graduate student in the TAMIN program, working in Dr. Maren’s Emotion and Memory Systems Lab. I am interested in the effects of stress on avoidance acquisition and extinction as well as basic neural mechanisms of extinction learning. I received my Neuroscience B.S. and Applied Cognition and Neuroscience M.S. from the University of Texas at Dallas. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, playing with my two kitties, and taking care of my plants!
- Vice President (Graduate)
- Samantha Plas
- Vice President (Undergraduate)
- Alissa Ballard
Howdy! My name is Alissa Ballard. I’m currently a junior Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience major. I am passionate about studying the intricacies of neuroscience and learning about neural disorders and treatment options. I currently work as a research assistant in Dr. Shapiro’s lab and study TBI and Alzheimer’s research. In my pastime, I enjoy reading, painting, and practicing taekwondo. I am super excited to serve as your treasurer, and I look forward to hearing what ideas and interests you have to share!
- TAMIN Graduate Representative
- Glenae Nora
- Lizzy Olsen
Lizzy is a third year TAMIN graduate student interested in neural development. She is currently working in Aref Zarin’s lab along with her duties as GPSG Representative.
- Outreach chair
- Kayli Colpitts
Howdy! I am a second year TAMIN PhD student in Jim Grau’s lab where we study spinal cord and traumatic brain injury. I am originally from Temple, TX and received my B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Applied Psychology from Tarleton State University. I am looking forward to a great year with B.R.A.I.N.S. and all of y’all!
- Outreach chair
- Sadrita Mondal
Howdy! My name is Sadrita Mondal, and I’m a sophomore Preclinical and Translational Neuroscience major from Austin, TX. I’m currently an undergraduate research assistant in Burte Lab studying individual differences in spatial thinking and how those differences impact STEM learning. I’m also passionate about treatment options for adolescents with developmental and behavior disorders. In my free time, I enjoy playing tennis, reading, and exploring new places. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone this year!
- Symposium Chair
- Samantha Sweck
I’m a second-year TAMIN student working in Dr. Steve Maren’s lab. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2020. I’m now researching the neural circuitry responsible for impairments in fear extinction with hopes of improving exposure therapy efficacy in the future. Outside of school/work, I enjoy playing most sports – primarily softball – and hanging out with my two adorably spoiled kitty cats!
- Merch Chair
- Shelby Reid
Shelby is in her third year of the Neuroscience PhD program where she studies neutrophils in spinal cord injury. Prior to graduate school, she earned her B.S. in Cognitive Neuroscience and Biochemistry from Harding University. In her spare time, Shelby enjoys figure skating, playing video games, and hanging out with her husband and cat.
- Social Chair
- Erika Marks
Erika graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelors in Neuroscience and a minor in Psychology in Spring 2022. While there, she joined research for the first time, working with larval zebrafish looking into the development of their sensory systems. She is now looking into the effect that SCI has on adult neurogenesis in the mouse hippocampus, looking at the interplay this neurogenesis has with cognition. Erika is a Ph.D. student in the Institute of Neuroscience. Outside the lab, Erika enjoys spending time with friends, playing frisbee golf, (or any pick-up sport she’s most recently got wrangled into!), playing card games, or just talking. She also enjoys nights in with her cat and a good book or TV show.
- TAMIN Webmaster
- Hugo Bayer
I am a third year TAMIN student interested in the neurobiology of learning and memory, specially fear memories. I am originally from Brazil, and got my Bachelor in Biology and Master in Pharmacology degrees back there. My hobbies include playing video games, chess, rock climbing, watching soccer and playing drums.
- Career Chair
- Jordan Cook
Howdy! My name is Jordan Cook and I am a second year graduate student in the TAMIN program. I grew up in South Carolina and received my bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina in biochemistry and molecular biology in 2020. I currently study biological rhythms of reward circuitry in the brain to uncover how cellular homeostasis drives behavior, and how these rhythms go awry in Depression. In my freetime, I enjoy powerlifting, rollerblading, and playing with my dog, Sunny. I also have a cat (Louis) who keeps me on my toes.