October 2018




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.


rafRaffaella Tulino – Lab Research Scientist

Raffealla obtained her Bachelor and Master degrees in Biology from the University of Sannio in Italy. She started her lab experience in the lab of Angel Barco (Instituto de Neurosciencia, Spain). During this period, she focused on the alteration of Epigenetic mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases. She joined Gillian P. Bates’ group at the King’s College London, UK for her PhD, where she focused on genetic and pharmacological approaches to target protein aggregation in Huntington’s disease. After a research stay at the Francis Crick Institute in Dr. Paola Scaffidi’s group, Raffaella came to the lab lab to purse her research interest in the evolution of neuronal circuits.


Photo_JanaJana Friedrich – EMBO Post-doctoral Fellow

Jana obtained her Diploma in Biology from the Freie Universität Berlin in Germany, where she worked on the transdetermination of imaginal discs in Drosophila during the last year of her undergraduate studies. After a research stay at the University of Dundee in Scotland in Arno Müller’s group, Jana joined the lab of Ingrid Lohmann at the University of Heidelberg, Germany for her PhD. In the lab of Prof. Lohmann she studied the role of Hox transcription factors in the establishment of motor circuits essential for feeding behaviour in Drosophila. Jana will join the lab soon to purse her research interest in the development of neural circuits from a evolutionary perspective, funded by an EMBO postdoctoral Fellowship.



RJVR_mugshotRuairí 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 will join 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.


IMG_6240.jpgAlida 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 will pursue 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.


IMG_6242Hui 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 will study the evolution of odour coding and navegational strategies in closely related Drosophila species.