Lab Members

Martin Sarter, Ph.D.  Martin came to the University of Michigan in 2004 where he serves as the Charles M. Butter Collegiate Professor of Psychology, Professor of Neuroscience, and Research Professor of Neurology. He is a Fellow of AAAS, APA, APS and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP). He served on a number of NIH grant review panels and was the co-editor in chief of the European Journal of Neuroscience (2008-2014).  Curriculum vitae.

Aaron newAaron Kucinski, Ph.D., Research Assistant Scientist & Controlled Substances Officer.  He is from Buffalo, New York.  Aaron received his Ph.D. in Pathology and Anatomical Sciences at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2011.  In graduate school, Aaron studied abnormal dopamine signaling systems in transgenic mice under the mentorship of Dr. Michal Stachowiak.  In addition, he conducted pharmacological research on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and investigated therapeutic effects of novel nicotinic receptor agonists in schizophrenia and Parkinson’s Disease models.  Aaron went to undergraduate school at SUNY Geneseo where he majored in Psychology and minored in Mathematics.  In the Sarter lab, Aaron has investigated cortical-striatal cognitive-motor interactions in multi-system rat model of Parkinson’s Disease and researched how impaired top-down cognitive control of damaged striatal systems causes falls and other complex movement impairments.  His goal is to determine the cortico-striatal circuitry mediating the cognitive control over movement and develop therapeutic approaches to prevent falls.  Aaron is also researching task switching in animals with cognitive control deficits and low performance-induced cortical acetylcholine release.  Aaron’s general interests are in systems neuroscience and behavioral pharmacology.

Aaron Antcliff, Ph.D., Post-doctorate Research Fellow. Aaron is from West Branch, MI, and attained his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Central Michigan University in 2018.  In his graduate training, Aaron studied stem cell replacement as therapeutics in neurodegenerative disease models under the guidance of Dr. Julien Rossignol. During this time, he focused primarily on the genetic modification of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to express exogenous receptor proteins that increase cellular migration in-vivo. Aaron also completed undergraduate school at Central Michigan University, double majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology. In the Sarter lab, his research interests involve the role of basal forebrain cholinergic activity in addiction vulnerability traits and the impact of capacity variants of the choline transporter on attention and associated risks for neuro-psychiatric disorders.


Kyra B. Phillips, B.A., Graduate Student, Biopsychology Program. Kyra graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a degree in Psychology with minors in Cognitive Science and French. She began her foray into behavioral neuroscience as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. J. David Jentsch’s lab researching the effects of drug self-administration on inhibitory control, in relation to the D2-family of dopamine receptors. Kyra joined the Sarter lab as a graduate student in the biopsychology area of the psychology department in the summer of 2013. Her general research interests are the neural and cognitive underpinnings of cue detection and sustained task maintenance; she is currently employing cholinoselective lesions and optogenetics in order to investigate the basal forebrain cholinergic system. Her thesis exams two competing hypotheses regarding the role of cortical cholinergic signaling in maintaining effortful sustained attention: the resource depletion hypothesis vs the opportunity cost hypothesis.

Cassandra Avila, B.S., Graduate Student, Biopsychology Program. Cassandra graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in Biology and Psychology minor. She began research during her high school career under several internships, MSEIP and SSEP. Then transitioned into the Behavioral and Neural Plasticity Laboratory as an undergraduate research assistant, and later as a RISE scholar, under Dr. Edward Castañeda, investigating the role of endogenous dopamine release within the basal ganglia circuity in movement and cognition. Cassandra investigates the cortico-striatal transfer of movement cues, by recording glutamate signaling in rodents trained to utilize cues for altering balance and movement. Such signaling is hypothesized to be attenuated in Parkinsonian fallers, secondarily to their losses in cholinergic systems.

Eryn Donovan, B.S., Graduate Student Biopsychology Program. Eryn graduated Magna Cum Laude from James Madison University with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Biology. She first delved into the world of behavioral neuroscience as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Jeff Dyche’s lab researching the effects of cocaine on impulsivity in rats, focusing primarily on D2 receptor aggregation or depletion in the nucleus accumbens core. Eryn joined the Sarter lab as a graduate student in the Biopsychology area of the Psychology department in the summer of 2018. Plans for her first year project are currently underway. Her general interests are in understanding cortico-striatal circuitry in cued attentional tasks using LFP and amperometric recordings.


Hannaan Rao, Lab Manager. Hannaan graduated with a B.S. in Neuroscience in Fall 2018. He has been the Sarter lab manager since May 2017. He hopes to pursue a career in medical neuroscience.





Muhammad (Didin) Nazmuddin, Visiting Scholar from the University of Groningen (Netherlands). Didin graduated as a medical doctor from Airlangga University (Indonesia). To pursue his academic career as a neuroscientist, he now is a doctoral student in neuroscience at the University of Groningen. Didin conducts research on the usefulness of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the nucleus basalis of Meynert (NBM) in patients with Parkinson’s disease/ dementia. He visits the Sarter lab to establish an animal model for determining optimal stimulation parameters for NBM DBS.



Undergraduate Research Assistants:  Olivia Cross, Shannon Kelley, Michael Lichomski, Olivia Preissle, Sarika Shah, Pranav Yadati.

Previous Lab Members

Christopher Caleb (CC) Angelakos, Ph.D., Stanford University

H. Moore Arnold, Ph.D., Biogen, Cambridge, MA

Anne S. Berry, Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Anne Marie Brady (prev. Himmelheber), Ph.D., St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Holden Brown, Ph.D., Brains On-Line LLC

Josh Burk Ph.D., College of William and Mary

LeeAnn Couts, Ph.D., Mount Vernon Nazarene University

Elise Demeter, Ph.D., University of North Carolina

Paul Dudchenko, Ph.D., University of Edinburgh and University of Stirling

Jim Fadel, Ph.D., USC School of Medicine

Howard Gritton, Ph.D., Boston University

W. Matthew Howe, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, NY

Louisa Kane, B.S., NIDA

Youngsoo Kim, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Michigan

Ajeesh Koshy Cherian, Ph.D., PsychoGenics, NJ

Rouba Kozak, Ph.D., Takeda

Caitlin Mallory,B.S., Stanford University, Neuroscience Program

Vicente Martinez, Ph.,D., University of Washington

Matthew S. Matell, Ph.D., Villanova University

Jill McGaughy, Ph.D., University of New Hampshire

Holley Moore, Ph.D., Columbia University

Chris Nelson, Ph.D., Cleveland Clinic, Lerner Research Institute

Giovanna Paolone, Ph.D., University of Verona, Italy

Vinay Parikh, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia

Megan St. Peters, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Ferrum College, Ferrum, VA

Kyle Pitchers, Ph.D., Canadian Tire Corporation, Toronta, CA.

Courtney Rivet, B.S., Neuroscience Program, University of Virginia

Lauren Rysztak, B.S., Neuroscience Graduate Program University of Michigan

Carillon (Cari) Skrzynski, B.A., Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

Janita Turchi, Ph.D., NIMH, Lab of Neuropsychology

Damon Young, M.A., Biogen, Boston.