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The Boss, Cozette and a Buddy depicted at the 2012 PD SymposiumPD Cartoon

 The 2012-14 Clinical Neuroscience Scholars from VBI have been named!

grasshopperNEW!! Young Grasshoppers in need of advice on school, lab and science, check out our new ADVICE links next to the labbies to hear pearls of wisdom on pulling it all together.


BethAnn McLaughlin interviewed on On the Home Stretch about the myth of autism MMR connection and the real concerns about environment and children's health.

The McLaughlin lab now has more photos!  Check out our sister site on Shutterfly for labbies having fun outside of lab.



Current Members

Amy Kleman Palubinsky

Amy is a tour-de-force in the lab and is now into her 7th year as a dissertation student, member of the Clinical Neuroscience Scholars  class, AND recipient of an American Heart Association grant . I know, I know, 7 years… but during her time here she’s also become a mom – twice. She’s got a crazy 3 year old who loves dinosaurs and a 6 month old who loves, well, eating. Originally from Pennsylvania she’s a huge Phillies fan and, as a result, can talk smack with the best of them. She loves brains (always), mitochondria (most of the time), animals (all of
 them), red wine (almost all of them) and coffee (forever).

Amy offers life advice here

Amy Says: I received my B.S. in Biochemistry from Susquehanna University in 2004 and my M.S. in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 2008. After working at Hopkins for 6 years, I decided to return to school to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience. I met Dr. McLaughlin and her lab during my initial interview at Vanderbilt and upon completing a rotation in the lab pretty much fell in love. My project focuses on mitochondrial metabolism as it relates to ischemia and neurodegeneration, something close to my heart and I'm sure close to the hearts of many of you reading this as the prevalence of stroke and neurodegenerative diseases is constantly on the rise.

Britney Lizama Manibusan

Oh Britney, you crazy scamp! Who in their right mind actually works out with The Boss? NO ONE! And yet this is why we love you. After a rocking first few years in the IGP, Britney is set for greatness. She crushes experiments, thinks outside the box and is pathologically Type A. She'll call you on your crap, has a big arse sword, and slays experiments. What's not to love??

Britney says: I'm a graduate student in the Neuroscience program, and I am interested in advancing research in neuroprotection. My project focuses on the roles of the chaperone response and mitophagy in making cell fate decisions under ischemic stress. In addition to the molecular basis of neuroprotection, I am also interested how my basic science research can impact development of new therapy for CNS injury. The HHMI/VUMC Clinical Program in Molecular Medicine and my clinical mentor, Dr. Derek Riebau, have been terrific resources for me to learn more about the potential clinical applications of my research and the gaps we need to fill in developing better treatment options for stroke patients. As for hobbies, I like to spend time fiddling with paint and charcoal, and going on hikes/hanging out in TN’s beautiful parks. I’m also working to lessen my border collie’s separation anxiety, for which if anyone has suggestions, please let me know.

Alex Parker 

parker ozAlex, or Parker, he'll respond to either, is a first year fellow in the lab working with our collaborative buddies on an IARPA project on neurotoxicity screening platforms.  We saved Alex from the relentless humidity of Gainesville where he did his doctral work on CNS development and dysfunction. A wiz at cell culture and staining, Alex is now looking at acetylcholinergic cell sensitivity using the always awesome neurovascular unit on a chip. 

Parker Says: I’m postdoc in the McLaughlin lab, and I’m here to research redox biology and neuroprotection! I earned a B.A. in Psychology from Albion College in 2011, and a Ph.D. Medical Sciences from the University of Florida College of Medicine in 2016. While my graduate work focused on the role of primary cilia in cortical development, I jumped at the opportunity to work in Dr. McLaughlin’s lab after she showed me around Vanderbilt and Nashville (the hot chicken and rye only influenced my decision a little bit). My current projects are focused on determining the ways organophosphate pesticides can influence neurons and brain development, and understanding how neurons protect themselves injury after stroke (and how we can help them do so). 

Pouya Ameli

 Pouya is a finishing his neurology residency and is interested in leveraging the power of 

Vandy's DNA da tabase to understand stroke outcomes. Pouya hails from the great-ish city of Orlando, Florida. He grew up close to all the famous Orlando theme parks and would be down for a day trip to Disney pretty much whenever. He's a big fan of the Orlando Magic, where many of the NBA's best players are groomed before they achieve great success with other teams. In his free time, he loves to play sports (especially basketball), trying new restaurants, reading about technology, and pretend to be cool at farmer's markets, food truck rallies, etc

Here is a picture of Pouya is saying goodbye to his youth as he starts his internship.

PhilwagesPhillip Wages Phil is a hybrid lab and honorary lab member. Phil is based out of the lab of Ned Porter in Chemistry, but his interest in neuroscience of cholesterol signaling brought us to collaborate with our team. His mad MS skills made him a fast lab favorite and mentor for some of our best undergrads. Phil is currently working to understand ramifications of abnormal sterol metabolism in stress and development. 

Phil says: I received my B.S. in Toxicology from Ashland University in 2011 and my Ph.D. in Toxicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Vanderbilt Training Program in Environmental Toxicology under the mentorship of Dr. Ned Porter of the Chemistry Department. I have been learning the ways of mass spectrometry and sterol biochemistry in order to identify environmental agents and pharmaceuticals that adversely impact cholesterol biosynthesis. With my collaboration with the McLaughlin group I am expanding upon my discoveries to determine the biological ramifications of these cholesterol biosynthesis disruptors as well as to better understand the role of cholesterol and its intermediates in neurodevelopment

Margrett Garrett (who forgot to send us a picture, so we're putting Elmo in here for her)

I am a freshman here at Vanderbilt from Atlanta, Georgia. Currently, I am on the pre-med track, and plan on majoring in Child Development and double majoring in either Neuroscience or Medicine, Health, and Society. Outside of school, I am a preschool karate teacher and a bookworm. I also love taking pictures and spending time with little ones. All in all, I am thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to work in the McLaughlin Lab alongside all of these amazing and inspiring individuals. 

Jordan Couceyro

I'm a member of the Class of 2020 here at Vandy from Miami, Florida. My current academic plan is to major in Neuroscience while on the pre-med track, with possible minors in Religious Studies and Music Performance for Jazz Piano. On campus, I'm currently a Student VUceptor, and the Programming Chair for a student organization called Lyrical Movements, which seeks to use the therapeutic powers of music to serve the needs of children in our community. In my free time, I enjoy playing flag football and overanalyzing the music theory of pop songs. I also love learning new things, and making new friends. I'm so grateful and thankful to have this opportunity to work alongside all the talented and brilliant individuals of the McLaughlin Lab!

David Orozco

David is a native Nashvillian (woot!), graduate of the best high school in the world, MLK . David says: I play soccer and I was captain of the team at MLK. I'm an only child and I want to study BME and ChemE. I'm a huge science nerd and I read a lot. 

Dominique Elizabeth Szymkiewicz


Dominique is a returning lab dynamo. She pipettes like a champ, is always eager to help and we love, love, love her smart questions in lab meeting and can-do attitude. In 2017 she scored herself a prestigous slot on the VIIBRE Summer Undergraduate Research Training Program and stayed with us for the summer working on Apoptosis Signaling Kinase and learning more cell biology.

Dominique is working on biochemical techniques to understand chaperone biology and keeping the Boss in line and on schedule. We are stoked she's here and hope she'll stay a looong while. Also, did we mention she's a dancing machine? She is. Cuz that's how we roll. Check it out HERE.

Yuelin Deng

A sophomore at Vandebilt, Yuelin joined our humble crew in the spring of 2017. His 2 years of experience in high school, killer academic record, and clear ability to comprehend complex studies were just a few of the things that convinced us he'd fit right in. He continued to show us his pre paredness and dedication to the work we were conducting time and again last semester, and we can't wait to see the great things he'll do next.

He says​: "I am an upcoming sophomore at Vanderbilt University, and I plan on majoring in Biomedical engineering and minoring in chemistry. On campus, I’m in VSVS, Vanderbilt Students Volunteer for Science, an organization where I teach middle school students science concepts through hands-on experiments, and I’m also a violinist in the Vanderbilt Commodore Orchestra. I’m extremely excited to be a part of this lab!"

John Kim

johnkimI am a current sophomore at Vanderbilt University, and I am majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in CS. I was born in South Korea but I grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, and love learning/practicing new languages. I currently am a VUceptor, which gives me the opportunity to help the transition of many First-Year Students. I love playing badminton and listening to jazz while working and would love to spend a portion of my life in Latin America. I am super excited for the opportunity to work closely with Phil and just be part of the lab!

John William McLaughlin

 John William (aka Billy-Boo) is a rising junior from Massachusetts who spent his first research semester in the lab over the summer of 2017. He quickly mastered the protein biochemistry and then we almost lost him to a dark room when he found our microscope room only to never leave it again ("The neurons....they are so pretty!").

john williamJohn William says:  I am currently a Springfield College undergraduate pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy. If you sense a Boston accent from me, it’s probably all my impersonations of Alec Baldwin from The Departed catching up with me. Oh, I’m also from a town just outside of Boston. My rather rudimentary exposure to the natural sciences, specifically in chemistry and biology, has left me with an unyielding desire to learn more. Neurology is where my sights continuously fell, even before I fully discerned it was the discipline I had been so fixated on. As a freshman, I was lucky enough to have an inspiring chemistry professor and she has left me fired up about the field ever since. The exciting opportunity to work at McLaughlin Labs, among all its brilliant and erudite members, is a remarkable one which I am incredibly thankful for. I cannot think of a better research facility that would expose me to the latest and greatest trends in neurodegenerative treatment and prevention. As of late, I have developed a strong inkling that a double major will be in my near future after the time I spend at lab for the summer. Some of my other passions include remaining active, jamming out to good music, reading science fiction and astrophysics books, attending concerts and festivals, sporadically drawing, and searching for the answers to this crazy thing we call life.

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited” -Something I think I read once and probably paraphrased

“A day where no new concept is grasped or understood is a day wasted, and time is one of the few (ostensibly) irretrievable things in this universe.” -Probably another quote I read somewhere and tried to pass off as my own

Labbies take in a Vibe Dance show featuring Stacy Yanofsky. "We can see you Stacy!!" Oddly, we haven't been invited back to anymore shows since Amy made such a spectacle of herself.

Did you need a chipmunk who thinks it's a squirrel but is really a person to give you life advice? If so, be sure to check out BethAnn McLaughlin blogging as Fighty Squirrel over at The Edge for Scholars. squirrel


Sharon Klein – B.A. 2017 Graduate

Sharon was a member of the Class of 2017 and came to us with a crazy amount of lab experience from high school, so we happily scooped her up at the job fair. She's proven to be a favorite 'little' because of her fabulous can-do attitude and super genius when in it comes to tackling tough literature. Sharon is off to medical school in New York now, and we expect great things from her.

Sharon says: I am a new graduate of Vanderbilt University as of 2017. I took a pre-med track while I was here because I knew I loved science. The brain and it's many mysteries never cease to fascinate me, and for this reason I loved my time with the team as an undergraduate researcher. Apart from the academic life, I enjoy cycling, skiing, and reading any type of novel.

Arulita Gupta – B.A. 2017 Graduate

  Arulita graduated with a B.A. in Neuroscience and Medicine, Health, and Society. During her time here, she worked with Pouya to evaluate genetic influences on ischemic stroke outcomes. While at Vandy, she was involved in VSVS, which brings hands-on, awesome science lessons to middle school students, Alternative Spring Break service trips, VUcept, STEM tutoring, and the Multicultural Leadership Council, which spreads cultural awareness—often luring people in with the best of food. As an ardent foodie Arulita loved exploring foods and also loves crafting and will miss her long walks around the Vandy arboretum. 

She says: “I am incredibly grateful to have been a member of the McLaughlin lab. I have nurtured my passion for biomedical research and gained extensive knowledge about neurodegeneration and neuronal signaling mechanisms in response to acute and chronic neural stress.”

Shelby Cansler - Research Assistant 2016-2017

Shelby came to our lab as a recent graduate of Berea College with a B.S. in Psychology and an emphasis in Neuroscience. She was a baby to the lab world with little experience in our ways, so we took her under our wings and showed her the fantastic world of biomedical neuroscience. She showed us that hard work and  determination could get you places and we were happy to have had her as a part of our team--especially as another type A personailty. Sadly, after a short time with us, Shelby parted ways in pursuit of more knowledge in the realm of cognitive neuroscience. While she was with us, she worked on the beginnings of our new CRISPR ASK1 research, and helped us pave a smooth path to completing this huge project. She hopes to continue doing research until heading for the dusty libraries of another college for her graduate degree.

​Annah Moore - Current IGP student

 Annah was our most recent graduate student to work in the lab and we loved having her around. She did lots of awesome work at NIH and brought her strengths in chemistry and biochemistry to the lab where we put her to work figuring out redox signaling associated with apoptosis signaling kinase. She now works with a new lab, but we keep in contact and she continues to work with us and provide her brilliance in our studies too.

Annah Says: I absolutely loved my time in the McLaughlin lab learning all about mechanisms of stroke and cellular metabolism! After gaining new skills in rotations throughout the year, I decided to pursue neuropharmacology under the guidance of Drs. Sweatt and Niswender to develop novel therapeutic strategies for a severe intellectual disability, Pitt Hopkins Syndrome. I'm grateful to everyone in the McLaughlin lab (especially the boss) for their hospitality and training - go mitochondria!!

Kim Grelli, M.D. 2013 Graduate

Kim co uldn’t wait to race back to west coast to be close to the mom of all moms, Sandi Grelli (who needs to stop doing your laundry now, Kim). Kim is an ubber genius ‘just get all the things done’ kind of go-getter we love in lab. She crushed out a great project on Krebs Cycle regulation during oxygen and glucose deprivation isolating the specific stressors that cause changes in protein expression. She’s now a Seattle based pediatric resident and we miss her loads.

Ama Jean Winland

 Ama WAS the quiet one. Then she became the rebel who cut her hair, pulled feathers out of birds (which ended up in her hair - go figure) and got tattooed. And that was just in the first 3 months of college. Needless to say, we are saving for bail. Ama enjoys playing soccer, cycling, and discovering new places both on and off campus. She will be heading out for medical school in the near future but is a rock star queen of organization, humor, sanity and biochemistry. We miss her perpetual smile, sharp mind and hilarity.

Gail Ingle - Retired 2012

 Ms. Gail is a Vanderbilt veteran, with 39 years on the job.  She's a great source of humor, support and Titans information to everyone on the 8th floor and a wonderful person to boot.  The only one who can stomp down BethAnn with a simple "Hush!", she is the envy of all for this great power she yields.  She retired to spend more time at home yelling at her husband Johnnie. See pictures of her retirement party here

David Wu

D avid is a new addition to the team having recently left Johns Hopkins to join Vanderbilt's MD/PhD training program. David is keenly interested in stroke, preconditioning and finding a good place to get a haircut in Nashville.

David says: I am a first year MSTP student at Vanderbilt University with a background in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University. I am an avid gym-goer and love getting people excited about exercise and nutrition. Stroke isvery personal subject for me, so I am very excited to be working in Dr. Mclaughlins lab, where the research is very meaningful to me

Erin Albers, M.D. 2010 Graduate

Dr. Albers came to our lab with many accolades including her election to the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society base on her training at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.  Erin is a testament that you should always hire folks who are smarter than you.  Her passion for children has lead her to the University of Washington in Seattle in Pediatric Cardiology.  You can find her biosketch Here

Erik Musiek, M.D., Ph.D. 2009 Graduate (Vanderbilt University, 2007)

Bound b y a Skull and Bones covenant to provide a home to those who have left the oppressive regime of the Hanover New Hampshire, Dr. Musiek sought asylum and neurobiology research in the McLaughlin lab from 2005-2007 during his MSTP years with his mentor Jason Morrow. At a young age, Dr. Musiek's fate was sealed to the McLaughlin Dynasty by Bernadette McLaughlin, elementary school principal, who saved Erik from a pack of roving fifth graders while he was serving time at the Bernice A. Ray School.   These experiences molded Dr. Musiek into a bright and independent scientist who is one of the best writers we have had the pleasure of working with in the lab.  Dr. Musiek and his much better half Dr. Amy Musiek are currently living in Philadelphia where they are doing fellowships at The University of Pennsylvania in Neurology and the far more lucrative Dermatology departments.  In spite of his efforts to channel a grumpy and pessimistic 80-year old man, Erik's outlook will surely be more up-tempo with the birth of the tremendously cute Trifecta of Musiek Tots. 

Lauren Rhea Mitchell, M.D.

Lauren joined the lab as a member of the Emphasis program exploring the metabolic dysfunction and compensation that occurs in response to ischemia.   She's a smart multi-tasking machine and tells some really horrific stories reminding basic scientists why medicine is super oogy at times :-) 

Jeannette Stankowski, Ph.D. 2011 Graduate

Jeannette is the  most recent graduate of our team having joined the lab in 2006.  She is irrepressible, intense and an outstanding role model for graduate students.  Known for her love of gangster rap, freakish knowledge of all things MTV and CHIP as well as intense love of family and science, we are planning on riding her coat tails to glory and a Nobel Prize which she believes will be awarded to us for her project in 2012.

Jeannette's LIFE ADVICE can be found here!

Stephanie Hayden Zeiger, Ph.D.  

Dr. Zeiger graced us with her humor, science and turtle for 3 years as a fellow in the lab leaving in 2010 to pursue outreach and education work on behalf of Vanderbilt through the Office of Research.  

Honorary Neurosciency Degrees to: Jennifer McKenzie, Ph.D. in Chemistry 2011 

Jennifer received her B.A in Chemistry from Hendrix College and came to Vanderbilt in 2006 and began collaborating with our lab in 2009. She is currently back at Vanderbilt  after a stint in Miami.  Jennifer specializes in bioanalytical electrochemistry. Interested in instrumental and novel technique development, Jennifer joined David Cliffel’s laboratory to develop new methods to measure real-time metabolic changes to cells in vitro. The multi-analyte microphysiometer (MAMP) allows for simultaneous, real-time measurement of glucose, lactate, oxygen, and acid.

Vanderbilt graduates Class of 2010. 


josh2e and jimbo

Evan Cohen

aka "The E-Meister" Evan came to the lab serendipitously while a sophomore in high school.  His good nature, willingness to help and maturity beyond his years made him a lab favorite.  We are working hard to 'bring Evan to the dark side' and make him a full out science geek but it appears that southern California has claimed him.  And, just for the record, not everyone needs to mow the McLaughlin/Stanwood lawn to join the lab (but it sure doesn't hurt either!).

Jess Cohen

We were honored to have the second of the Cohen’s, Jess, in the lab as a in high school and between time in Nashville and joining brother Evan at USC.  Jess was lead in our blood brain barrier research program funded thru the JB Marshall lab and was instrumental in helping us check out all kinds of biofilms, culture systems and stressors to mimic the vascular/brain interface.  Jess is the happiest and coolest of the cool kids and, in spite of the fact that she taught The Bosses daughter how to do whipits from whipped cream cans, we still love and miss her.

Janie Hettinger 

Jane says:  I was lucky enough to be placed in Dr. McLaughlin's lab, my first choice, for the summer as part of the Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy, a program for undergraduates interested in biomedical research.  I think my time is the lab will be a great opportunity for me to pursue my interests and, of course, to learn as much as possible.  I look forward to becoming a part of this lab and getting to know its accomplished members.  I am a native of the Nashville area and have always been a Vandy fan, despite my current UGA status.  In my free time, I like to read, to watch all sorts of movies, to listen to music, and to enjoy the outdoors. 

Vanderbilt voted one of The Top 10 Places to Do a Post Doctoral Fellowship.  Find out more here

Vanderbilt has an history of mentoring including the Women on Track program.  Dr. McLaughlin also works as a mentor for the Society for Neuroscience.  Find out more here.

We support the excellent position statement of the Society for Neuroscience on the ethical and humane use of animals in lifesaving medical research.  Find out more here

Control Group

Figure out fast who is on call at Vandy using the new Synergy System