In order of joining the lab:
Lucia Prieto-Godino – Group Leader
Lucia obtained a B.A. from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain, where she trained with Gonzalo Garcia de Polavieja. After a summer working on vision in box jellyfish in the lab of Dan Nilsson at Lund University in Sweden, she joined Michael Bate‘s group at the University of Cambridge, UK for her PhD, where she studied the embryonic development of the Drosophila olfactory system. For her postdoc she worked on the evolution of olfactory pathways in Drosophila, in the lab of Richard Benton at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. She has received multiple awards, including the FENS EJN Young Investigator Prize 2018 and the 2018 L’Oreal-UNESCO for women in science Fellowship. In addition to the lab work, Lucia founded and runs TReND (Teaching and Research in Natural Sciences for Development) in Africa, work for which she received the Passion in Science Award 2016.
Alida Avola – PhD student
Alida obtained her BSc in Biomedicine at King’s College London. She developed an interest in neuroscience during her summer internship at the Florey Institute where she gained research experience in Steven Petrou’s laboratory. She then continued working in John Aggleton’s group where she focused on the mechanisms of memory formation in rats. For her bachelor thesis, she worded with Uwe Drescher to characterize zebrafish larvae behavior in a model of autism spectrum disorders. Following her studies, she moved to the Francis Crick Institute to join the visual circuit assembly laboratory with Iris Salecker where she focused on the development of motion detection neurons in Drosophila melanogaster. In the lab, she pursues her scientific interest in circuits assembly by comparing the transcriptomes of multiple Drosophilids to understand how genetic changes can affect the brain circuitry during evolution.
Ruairí Roberts – PhD student
Ruairí is a Neuroscience MSci graduate from University College London. During his undergraduate studies he became fascinated by cellular neurobiology, developmental biology and, through a summer project at the Jefferis Lab in Cambridge, Drosophila neurobiology. Since then he has pursued his interests as a Research Assistant in the Drosophila Connectomics team where he had the privilege to explore the olfactory system of a female Drosophila melanogaster brain at an EM scale. He joined the lab in September 2018 as a PhD student. For his PhD studies, he is eager to build upon his previous neuroanatomical experience by comparing the morphology and functional properties of the neural circuitry of multiple Drosophilid species and in so doing hopefully understand something of the principles of how nervous systems can evolve.
Hui Gong – PhD student
Hui graduated from UCL with a MSci Natural Sciences degree where she pursued two streams: Medical Physics and Brain Behaviour and Cognition. Her interests in Neuroscience pushed her to complete a Master’s research project focussed in determining the role of brain capillary pericytes in conditions of stroke, carried out in the lab of David Attwell at UCL. Before that she also had experiences in Molecular Neuroscience and Computational Neuroscience through short internships. As a PhD student in the lab she studies the evolution of odour coding and navegational strategies in closely related Drosophila species.
Sinzi Pop – Postdoc
Sinzi studied Biochemistry for her undergrad at the Babeș-Bolyai University in Romania and went on to study Molecular Neuroscience for her MSc at the Graduate Training Center of Neuroscience at Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in Germany. Inspired by her lab rotation with Andrea Wizenmann and her Master thesis with Thomas Euler and Timm Schubert, Sinzi pursued a PhD in Developmental Neurobiology with Darren Williams at King’s College London. For her postdoc, Sinzi will use two-photon volumetric calcium imaging to disentangle olfactory networks in D.melanogaster and compare them to other drosophilids. Combining her work with that of the other members of our team, she aspires to understand how structural and functional networks evolve.
Andrea Adden – Postdoc
Andrea obtained her Bachelor and Master degrees in Biology and Neuroscience from the University of Göttingen, Germany. She discovered her love of neuroethology in the lab of Martin Göpfert, where she worked on the aristal thermosensors of Drosophila melanogaster under the supervision of Bart Geurten. Inspired by a short research stay in Karin Norström’s group, she then joined the Heinze lab in the Lund Vision Group for her PhD studies. For the past five years, she has been exploring the neural networks that process sensory cues which guide the long-distance migration of the Bogong moth, Agrotis infusa. Following her interest in sensory processing, Andrea joined the Prieto-Godino lab to study the evolution of olfactory receptors in tse-tse flies (Glossinidae).
Jason Somers – Senior Lab Research Scientist
Jason completed his PhD in genetics at the University of Melbourne using the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model to study novel insecticide resistance mechanism. His postdoctoral work in the lab of Professor Joerg Albert, at the UCL Ear Institute, centred on how sensory systems and environmental conditions can influence rhythmic behaviours in insects. Using both flies and mosquitoes he studied the link between circadian rhythms and mechanosensation using behavioural, biophysical and molecular techniques. His interest in insect sensory physiology and behaviour lead him to joining the lab as a senior research scientist to study how changes in olfactory systems across different fly species have changed their preferences for different hosts.
Miranda Gonzales – PhD student
Miranda completed her BSc with a dual specialization in Chemistry and Neuroscience & Behaviour at the University of Notre Dame in the United States. In this time, she pursued interests in behavioural evolution in an undergraduate research project investigating male mating strategies in gray tree frogs with the Boyd Lab. Wanting to draw relationships between behavioural evolution and neural circuit function, Miranda began an Msc at UCL and joined the Prieto-Godino Lab to further these interests. After her Msc she joined the lab as a PhD student. With the lab, she hopes to investigate and model olfactory circuits in Drosophila species to compare connectomic differences which may give insights to how species-specific behaviours diverge.
Juan Lugo Ramos – Postdoc
Juan studied Biology at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, in Bogotá. His interest in evolution led him to join the Laboratory of Dr. Luis Fernando Cadavid in the same University, to obtain his Masters degree studying the molecular evolution of MHC class I in New World Primates. Continuing his career in evolution, he pursued his Doctorate at the Max Planck Institute for evolutionary biology in Plön, Germany. Under the supervision of Dr. Miriam Liedvogel, he studied bird migration from an evolutionary perspective using population genomics approaches, and from a functional perspective analysing chromatin accessibility and gene expression in specific areas of the brain in birds. The influence of the latter part of his Doctorate, bring him to join the laboratory of Neural circuits and evolution in April 2021. His aim is to combine evolution and neuroscience approaches to study the changes and adaptations of olfactory sensing circuits across Drosophila species.
Alice French – Lab Research Scientist
Alice did her PhD in neurobiology in the lab of Prof Frederic Marion poll, CNRS, France. Interested by the effects of natural pesticides on insect feeding she studied how the fruitfly gustatory system processes foods containing both appetitive and aversive components. Pursuing her interest in insect sensory neurobiology, she moved to Imperial College London to work as a post doc in the lab of Dr Giorgio Gilestro. Here she used fruit flies to study how the sleeping brain processes sensory information and was particularly interested by the neural pathways involved in waking upon detection of salient odours. In a collaboration with the Prieto-Godino lab she went on to study unconscious sensory processing in closely related fruit fly species and later focused on how ecological and physiological diversity gives rise to intra-specific variability in sleep behaviour. She now works and a LRS in Dr Prieto-Godino lab, fascinated by the evolution of neural circuits and resulting behaviour.
Nausheen Bhat – MRes Student UCL
Nausheen completed his BSc in Bioinformatics at the Indonesian International Institute for Life Sciences, conducting his undergraduate thesis in collaboration with Imperial College London. During this time, his passion led him to pursue research in the field of Evolutionary biology. In the field of Evolutionary biology, Nausheen has also interned in the Evo-Devo department at the University of Tokyo, where he analyzed transcriptomic data of developmental organs of chordates. Currently, he is a MRes student in the Biosciences department at UCL and is working at the Neural Circuits and Evolution Lab to understand the evolutionary changes in the olfactory neurons of specialist flies Drosophila erecta.