Current Lab Members

Hayley Bounds

Hayley is a junior at Brown concentrating in Neuroscience. Prior to joining the Burwell lab, she worked in the Kaun lab at Brown for over a year. During that time, she studied the circuitry behind the formation of ethanol reward memories in Drosophila. She is currently developing a gait analysis assay to use on the hydrocephalus project.



Valerie Estela  |  Graduate Student

After four 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. The following March, she was awarded a three year National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The award will support her study of the role of the perirhinal cortex in representation of context. Valerie also has an interest in mentoring and in increasing the representation of underrepresented minorities in neuroscience. 



Victoria Heimer-McGinn  |  Postdoctoral Fellow

Victoria is interested in the brain’s ability to understand spatial context, which is crucial to higher-order cognitive functions like decision-making and perception. Her current research focuses on the functional connectivity between the postrhinal and perirhinal cortices and on the neuronal correlates of behavior in these regions. Dr. Heimer-McGinn also has a strong background in molecular neuroscience, particularly in the development and characterization of transgenic mouse models, and in microscopy. She hopes to apply her broad skill set to the molecular and circuit-level study of neuropsychiatric diseases like schizophrenia.

Victoria completed her PhD in 2013 at University College Cork, Ireland under the supervision of Dr. Paul Young. She was a Fulbright Student Scholar (2006; Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, University of Oslo, Norway), and a National Hispanic Scholar (2002), and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Florida (2006). Victoria was recently awarded the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) as an Individual Postdoctoral Fellow (Parent F32).


Eunkyu Hwang  |  Graduate 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.

Tara Jacobson  |  Postdoctoral Fellow

I am interested in circuits and mechanisms that underlie the formation of memories, particularly differentiating the contributions of spatial, nonspatial, contextual, and attentional mechanisms that subserve memory encoding and retrieval.  I received my B.S. in Psychology in 2004 from the University of Washington, where as an undergraduate, I assisted in research relating to the role of estrogen in learning either a spatial or nonspatial navigational strategy.  I entered graduate school in 2005 at the University of Connecticut.  For my first project I developed a novel task training rodents to use both a spatial and nonspatial strategy to solve the same maze, then used lesion methods to investigate competition in different brain regions.  My next project focused on utilizing electrophysiological methods to investigate spatial information processing and how subtle changes in the environment affect the formation of new representations in young adult compared to aged rats.  I started my postdoctoral work at Brown with Dr. Burwell in 2011 where I am using both electrophysiology and optogenetics to investigate circuits involved in memory and attention, and how regions such as the postrhinal cortex relays information important for the formation of new memories.


Brendon Kent  |  Psychology Graduate Student

I received a B.A. in Psychology from Grinnell College in 2007. After college I worked in a clinical research lab at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. While at Mount Sinai,  I helped run experiments which focused on the relationship between the dopaminergic system and cognitive deficits in schizophrenia spectrum patients. In the fall of 2010 I came to Brown as a first-year grad student to work with professor Burwell's lab.  I am interested in studying the hippocampal memory system, particularly its role in encoding episodic memory and regulating attention.


Sasha Lieblein  |  Undergraduate Student

Sasha joined the Burwell Lab as an undergraduate in her sophomore year at Brown. She is on the pre-med track and has a keen interest in the sciences. She enjoys her research on the neural basis of memory, and is particularly fascinated by the postrhinal cortex and attention.



Inês Tomás Pereira  |  Postdoctoral Fellow


In 2011 I received my PhD in Neuroscience from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in partnership with the National Institutes of Health. Under the supervision of Dr. Peter R. Rapp, I focused on studying the interactions between hippocampal and striatal memory systems in the context of spatial navigation, and how they are affected during normal aging. I continue to be interested in the interactions between different cognitive systems and since I've joined the lab in 2013 I have been working on the parallel processing between perirhinal and postrhinal cortices during contextual visual recognition. In the future, I am interested in exploring the effect of prefrontal cortex input to the hippocampal system and how it affects memory formation and behavior.


Jacqueline Phillips  |  Undergraduate Student





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  |  Undergraduate Student





Methma Udawatta  |  Undergraduate Student





Fang-Chi Yang  |  Psychology Graduate Student

I received my MS degree from National Taiwan University in 2007. I studied the relationship among the dorsal hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens on fear memory with Dr. Keng-Chen Liang. After that, I worked at Dr. WenMei Fu’s lab at the behavior core lab of Neurobiology and Cognitive Science Center, National Taiwan University for two years to study the behavioral deficit of knockout mice. Then, I went to National Chengchi University and worked with Dr. Ruey-Ming Liao to investigate the drug addiction and dopamine-related rewarding behaviors. I came to Brown and joined the Burwell lab in September 2010. I am interested in interactions of cortical areas and currently working on recording neuronal activity in the posterior parietal cortex on a visuospatial attention (VSA) task.