Lab Members


Principal Investigator
Bradley Voytek
(scholar, cv, twitter)

I’m an Associate Professor in the Department of Cognitive Science, the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, and the Neurosciences Graduate Program here at UC San Diego. I'm interested in how the 86 billion or so neurons in our brains can possibly “talk” to each other given how messy and noisy the biological brain is. To study this, my lab combines many approaches—including large-scale data science and machine learning—to study the computational basis for how brain regions communicate with one another, and how that communication changes with development, aging, and disease. I am both an Alfred P. Sloan Neuroscience Research Fellow and a Kavli Fellow of the National Academies of Sciences, as well as a founding faculty member of the UC San Diego Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute and the Undergraduate Data Science program, where I currently serve as Vice-Chair. In 2010, I got my PhD in neuroscience from UC Berkeley and then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at UC San Francisco. In between, I was the first Data Scientist at Uber where I helped build their data science strategy and team. I’m an open science and honest science advocate. I’m also kind of known as the “zombie brain” guy, along with friend and fellow neuroscientist Timothy Verstynen. We even published a book on this: Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?, and I'm a long-time (20+ years!) San Diego Comic-Con nerd.


Postdoctoral Researcher
Natalie Schaworonkow

I am interested in mesoscopic information processing in the brain. I study this by computational modeling and data analysis of electrophysiological data.


PhD Student
Thomas Donoghue
(web, twitter)

Basically, I would like to know how the brain works. In particular, how does it go about organizing all it’s seemingly chaotic activity in order to systematically allow us to do everything that we do?

I mainly work on the hypothesis that neural oscillations – rhythmic neural activity – may serve as an organizing principle for neural computation. I investigate this using a mixture of running new experiments with human subjects while we record their brain activity, and also by analysing data from open-access databases. In practice, this means I spend most of my time on the computer, working on code to try and figure out what is going on in the data.

You can find out more about my research here


PhD Student
Richard Gao
(web, twitter, cv)

There are tens of billions of distinct cells in the human brain, but are there just as many ways in which these cells can behave? My research looks at a small number of conserved neural population dynamics – e.g., synchronous waves, neural oscillations, asynchronous “noise”. How do groups of neurons organize themselves in these ways, how are these dynamics different, and what roles do these population dynamics play in cognition and behavior? I also work on inferring cellular dynamic and structure from mesoscale brain signals, like local field potential and electrocorticography (see here).

My work includes a mixture of in vitro and in silico modeling, in addition to a heavy dose of signal processing and other computational methods applied on (donated) animal electrophysiological data. Sometimes I rant about stuff here.


PhD Student
Sydney Smith

After completing my undergraduate degree and assisting research in cognitive and social neuroscience at UC Santa Barbara, I came to this lab to learn more about how we study the brain. How do computational methods augment brain science research? How do we optimize the recording and imaging technologies currently at our disposal? How do we, as neuroscientists, best study something as elusive as the human brain?

Before I can tackle these challenges in future graduate study and research, I need to expand my skillset and master current techniques in data collection and analysis. As lab manager, I’m here to learn, to contribute to running projects, and to keep everything running smoothly.


PhD Student
Quirine van Engen
(email)

A brain trying to understand itself is the funniest idea about neuro/cognitive science. After studying the brain during my Bachelors Psychobiology and Masters Brain and Cognitive Sciences (both at the University of Amsterdam), I totally got hooked on the most interesting organ we possess that controls all our automatic responses, as well as our thoughts. Although I will miss my home town, I am excited to continue my passion for research here in the lab. During my latest research project (here at the lab), I investigated both oscillatory theta and alpha activity, and the aperiodic spectrum changes during a working memory task. Broadly speaking, my main research interest is how the brain processes information. More specifically, I don't know yet, because everything is super interesting.


PhD Student
Eena Kosik
(email)

I am an incoming PhD student in the Voytek Lab. I’m interested in using electrophysiology and signal processing to measure the complex biological dynamics that lead to disease. In my previous research experience, I have studied the neural components of prediction using electroencephalography and electrocorticography in Dr. Robert Knight’s lab at UC Berkeley and assisted in research studying the psychophysiological aberrations in patients with neurodegenerative disease in Dr. Virginia Sturm’s lab at UCSF. I hope to use these experiences and techniques to guide my current research interests.


PhD Student
Andrew Bender

I am broadly interested in the computational mechanisms and information processing underlying cognitive processes such as decision making and working memory. I pursue this interest through use of computational modeling and machine learning techniques in tandem with analysis of electrophysiological recordings.


PhD Student
Michael (MJ) Preston

I am a PhD student in the Neurosciences Graduate Program. I am interested in neural mechanisms of information processing and how these processes are reflected in the electrical signals we record from the brain. My previous research experiences have focussed on the role of neural oscillations in brain circuit function, promoting open-science through The OpenBehavior Project, and modelling decision-making.


Software Developer
Ryan Hammonds

I help develop software and processing pipelines to extract features from electrophysiological and MRI data. I am interested in using these features with predictive modeling / machine learning to “decode” mental states and to identify biomarkers of mental illness.


Affiliated Members & Visiting Students

Daril Brown
Gilja Lab, UCSD

Tyler Farnan
Master’s Student, UCSD

Mia Borzello
Grad Student, UCSD


Undergraduate Researchers

Allen Zhang

Lulu Ricketts

Valentina Carreno

Chase Oden

Shuangquan Feng


Lab Alumni

Scott Cole (twitter, web, cv)
Formerly: PhD Student
Currently: Data Scientist, Square

Erik Peterson (twitter, web, cv)
Formerly: Post-Doctoral Researcher


Tammy Tran (cv)
Formerly: PhD Student

Roemer van der Meij
Formerly: Post-Doctoral Researcher

Stephanie Martin
Formerly: Post-Doctoral Researcher
Currently: Research Scientist, Google X

Simin Berend
Formerly: Visiting Master’s Student
Enriquez-Geppert Lab

Robert Gougelet
Formerly: PhD Student

Lakshmi Menon
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant
Currently: Master’s Student, NYU

Lauren Liao
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant
Currently: Master’s Student, UC Berkeley

Sunny Pasumarthi
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Andrew Washington
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Sitan (Stan) Liu
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Grant Sheagley
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Erin Cole
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Aeri Kim
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Rifqi Affan
Formerly: Summer Research Student (SDSU)

Geeling Chau
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Michael Tran
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Meyhaa Buvanesh
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Torben Noto(twitter, web, CV)
Formerly: Lab Manager
Currently: PhD student,Kording Lab, Northwestern

Brad “PostBrad” Postle
Formerly: Guy on sabbatical
Currently: Back to normal Professoring

Leonhard Waschke
Formerly: Visiting PhD Student, Obleser Lab

Jenny Hamer
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Tianyu Zhang
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Liz Izhikevich
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant
Currently: PhD student, Stanford

Yimeng Yang
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Priya Sebastian
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Dylan Christiano
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Simon Haxby
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Will Fox
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Tanner Turner
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Sasen Cain
Gentner Lab, UCSD

Paolo Gabriel
Gilja Lab, UCSD

Celene Gonzales
Formerly : Visiting Master’s Student

Luyanda Mdanda
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Julio Dominguez
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Jairo Chavez
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant

Adrianna Hohil
Formerly: Undergrad Research Assistant