Current Lab Members

Valerie Estela  |  PhD Student

After three years in industry, Valerie began study in the Neuroscience Graduate Program in the fall of 2014. She joined the Burwell lab in January of 2015. That March, she was awarded a three year National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The award supported her study of the role of the postrhinal cortex in representation of context. In 2018, Valerie was awarded the F99/K00 Career Transition DSPAN Award by the NIH. This fellowship supports Valerie for the last 2 years of her PhD as well as providing funding for 4 years of a postdoctoral position. Aside from research, Valerie also has an interest in teaching, mentoring, and in increasing the representation of underrepresented minorities in neuroscience. 


Eunkyu Hwang  |  PhD Student

Eunkyu graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2013. After working for a year as a reseach assistant for David Bucci, she joined the lab as a doctoral graduate student in the Psychology Graduate Program. She is currently working on the structure and function of perirhinal-prefrontal interactions using neuroanatomical and optogenetic methods.


Alexia Ioannou  |  Masters Student

Alexia 'Alex' Ioannou is a Master's student in Biomedical Engineering. She attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for her undergraduate degree and obtained a dual degree in Mechanical engineering and Design, Innovation, and Society. She then worked at Melissa and Doug Toy company as a design engineer before applying to Brown. Alex is currently working on optogenetic stimulation in the medial prefrontal cortex and how it effects novelty exploration. When she graduates, she hopes to work in industry helping design medical equipment to aide special needs children or adults. 


Devon Poeta  |  Lab Manager,  Research Associate

Devon joined the Burwell lab in 2010 after graduating from Stonehill College with a Bachelor’s in Neuroscience. She received her Master’s degree in Biotechnology from Brown in 2015. Devon is studying the connectivity between the perirhinal and prefrontal cortices; specifically, the neural mechanisms underlying object recognition memory and attention. She is also collaborating with Dr. Petra Klinge, a neurosurgeon from RI Hospital, using a rodent model of hydrocephalus to study the cognitive deficits associated with the disease. 


Ben Shanahan  |  Brown 2017 Graduate

Ben is currently working at Brown University in the laboratory of Leigh Hochberg, MD, Ph.D. in Engineering.



Maya Singh  |  Undergraduate Researcher

Maya Singh is a senior concentrating in Contemplative Studies with a focus in Cognitive Neuroscience. Since her sophomore year, Maya has been involved in multiple projects in the lab, most recently working with Postdoctoral Associate Dr. Victoria Heimer McGinn examining Postrhinal activity during the bi-conditional discrimination task. After graduation Maya hopes to enroll in a MD/PhD program to further understand the impact of meditation practices on proprioception and pain management.. 




Sean Trettel  |  Postdoctoral Researcher

Sean joined the Burwell lab in 2018 as a postdoctoral research assistant after having completed his PhD studies under Laura Colgin at The University of Texas at Austin. For his dissertation he studied the activity of grid cells in the medial entorhinal cortex during overnight sleep, and what that activity could tell us about how grid cell patterns form. He is currently interested in using in vivo electrophysiology and optogenetics to study the functional connectivity of the postrhinal cortex with cortical, hippocampal, and thalamic regions.