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Meet The Team


Principal Investigator

Galit Pelled, Ph.D.

I received my Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. In 2004, I joined Dr. Alan Koretsky’s lab at NINDS/NIH as a postdoc fellow. In 2008, I joined Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Kennedy Krieger Institute as a tenure-track Assistant professor, and in 2014 I was promoted to Associate professor. In 2017 I was recruited as a tenured Full-Professor to Michigan State University to establish a new Neuroengineering  program. My research focuses on developing and leveraging transformative technologies for enhancing neuro-performance. Through holistic and multidisciplinary approaches my lab works toward developing marine-inspired technologies for artificial sensing and adaptive-prosthetics; restoring sensory-motor performance after traumatic brain injury (TBI), peripheral nerve injury and epilepsy; and improving athletic performance and cognitive capabilities by using genetic-based neuromodulation and non-invasive brain stimulation

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Ph.D. Student

Abby Metto, B.S.

I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience from Michigan State University in 2018. As part of my undergraduate research experience, I worked at the Krishnan Lab in the Department of Computational Math, Science & Engineering. While there, I analyzed gene expression data to investigate age- and sex-specific gene expression in brain biology and disease. Additionally, I worked at the Computational Basis for Cognitive Control Lab in the Department of Psychology. I focused on understanding age-related and individual differences in memory retrieval, utilizing Electroencephalogram recordings and computational approaches. Currently, I am a graduate student in the Biomedical Engineering Program. I was particularly drawn to the Pelled Lab because of the interdisciplinary nature of our work as well as my interest in applying engineering principles and computational methods to solve unmet medical needs/ problems. My research project is aimed at developing a genetic-based therapy for seizures and epilepsy. My goal is to continue establishing research that will improve on current anti-seizure therapies.


    Ph.D. Student

    Autumn McLane-Svoboda, B.S.

    I received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Biomedical Engineering from Michigan State University in 2021. I am currently a graduate student in the Biomedical Engineering program and joined the Pelled Lab in November 2021. My research project surrounds electrophysiology, specifically within the Octopus species, using tactile, sensory, and motor stimulation. My goal is to identify and characterize neural patterns within the octopus related to movement. Quantifying these patterns, along with the unique movement seen in the octopus, will aid in the development of improved neuroprosthetics. 


      M.S. Student

      Nitish Satya Sai Gedela

      I pursued my Bachelor of Technology in Electronics & Communications Engineering at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in 2021, which proved to be an incredible opportunity to explore the various facets of technology. I gained a comprehensive overview of concepts like IoT and Machine Learning and felt heavily inclined toward the premise of AI. I also undertook an Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) internship at Appleton Innovations. This internship proved essential to my journey toward building a skill set in computer-integrated technology. It was a fascinating prospect to have the opportunity to apply myself and win at India's most prestigious Smart India Hackathon – Hardware Edition 2020. As I led a team of six budding professionals through the various stages of the competition, I began to comprehend more about my aspirations and where I would envision myself. I was keen on joining Appleton Innovations as a full-time employee. As an R&D Engineer, I began building my repertoire of skills in understanding the amalgamation of AI and IoT. I am currently a Graduate Student at the College of Natural Sciences, pursuing a Master of Science in Data Science program, and I joined the Pelled Lab in November 2022. My objective is to identify and analyze the neural patterns within the octopus arms related to the degree of movement. We are doing extensive research to quantify these patterns by extracting the specific features from the unique signal seen in the octopus and modeling the behavior of actions, which will help develop advanced neuroprosthetics.


        Research Administrator

        Rita Martin

        Rita Martin is a Research Administrator in the Pelled Lab. She identifies potential sources of funding, assists with preparing grant applications and annual research performance progress reports for funded projects, provides editorial assistance for research manuscripts and abstracts, and coordinates technology transfer agreements for collaborative research activities. Rita also assists with managing administrative functions for the Pelled Lab.

        Rita earned a master’s degree in Zoology with specialization in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, and graduated with a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Michigan State University.


          Undergraduate Student

          Brittany Bush

          I am a senior at Michigan State University majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a Biomedical Concentration. After my undergraduate degree, I plan on attending medical school. The link between engineering and medicine is what drew me to the Pelled Lab. I assist in the research and analysis of octopus motion and neural responses to eventually design better prosthetic devices.


            Ph.D Student

            Alesa Hughson, B.S.

            I received a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience from Alma College in 2014. After graduating, I worked at a neurorehabilitation facility in northern Michigan, caring for patients suffering from traumatic brain injury. After one year, I returned to academia as a laboratory research technician in the University of Michigan’s biopsychology department where I studied incentive salience attribution and how it relates to drug addiction. I joined the Pelled lab in Fall 2018 as a Ph.D. student and Graduate Research Assistant. My research involves developing therapies to improve functional outcomes after traumatic brain injury in large animal pediatric models of TBI.


              Ph.D. Student

              Lauren Wade, B.S.

              I graduated with my Bachelor’s degrees in Cognitive Science and Psychology as well as a certificate in Clinical Psychological Science from Indiana University in 2019. While at Indiana University, I researched semantic, phonemic, and organizational pattern differences expressed between individuals, specifically in those on various points of the psychotic spectrum. After graduating, I worked as a laboratory technician in the IU Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience lab at Indiana University, where I researched (1) action understanding in infants and (2) the continuity and consistency of social-cognitive development in infants and toddlers. I joined the Pelled lab in the summer of 2021 as a Neuroscience Ph.D. student. My main project investigates the functional outcomes following traumatic brain injury (TBI) in mini-Yucatan pigs as a translational model of pediatric concussion, with the hopes of developing therapies to help improve these detrimental outcomes following TBI.


                M.S. Student

                Brendan Doane

                I am currently a senior here at Michigan State University majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Biomedical Engineering. I plan to graduate in Spring 2023 and to start studying for my M.S. in Mechanical Engineering the following fall. I plan to offer my help in Dr. Pelled's laboratory for the next couple of years to increase my knowledge and expertise in the field of neurology. To start out, I will be assisting in studying the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a porcine model to develop therapeutic techniques for the purpose of healing the affected areas of the brain. I love the ability to combine the basic principles of mechanical engineering and apply them to bodily functions and processes, which is exactly why I joined Dr. Pelled's laboratory.


                  D.O. Student

                  Jacob McClellan

                  I received my B.A. in philosophy at Northwestern University. After graduation, I decided to pursue a career in medicine. I took the pre-requisite classes at UTD, near my childhood home, while I worked as a medical scribe in the Emergency Department at Presbyterian Dallas. After two years of scribing and pre-med classes, I decided to pursue a masters in Bioethics at Case Western Reserve University; however, I had built a distinct interest in the neurosciences during my studies in philosophy and journey as a pre-medical student. My interest really began during a summer experience where I served as a research student for Dr. Jane E. Johnson at University of Texas Southwestern, characterizing Atoh1 lineage neurons and their association with proprioception in rats. Later on, I began working as a research assistant in Dr. Jerry Silver’s lab at Case Western Reserve, where we did work to elucidate the efficacy of a peptide compound Dr. Silver had created to induce functional recovery in fine motor limb movement of Sprague Dawley rats effected by spinal cord injury. In the Pelled lab, I am investigating novel therapies for TBI in large animals. I am also currently a student at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, striving to become a neurologist one day! 


                    Technical Aide

                    Fermin Jimenez, B.S.

                    I went to MSU for undergrad in Chemistry and Food Science. While as an undergrad I worked in the Cellular Reprogramming Lab run by Dr. Cibelli helping out in the lab and with zebrafish husbandry. There I gained an interest in working with aquatic animals in the lab setting. After graduating, I continued working for Dr. Cibelli by helping keep the fish colony healthy and within EHS, AAALAC, and IACUC regulations. This has led me to work for Dr. Galit Pelled and with the octopus. I have worked here for a little over a two years where I help make sure the octopus are healthy and within the same regulations. Working with the octopus has been a great experience and I look forward to learning more about them in the future. 


                      Undergraduate Student

                      Marvin Opoku Kwarteng

                      I am a freshman from Ghana West Africa majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Cognitive Science at Michigan State University. I'm interested in how the knowledge of neurological processes in biological organisms could further be understood to optimize and improve current Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence systems and models to improve technology in healthcare, hence why the Pelled Lab gave me the opportunity to learn how to use Machine Learning algorithms in the Deeplabcut software to train models to learn and track motion of Octopus arms. 

                        Pelled Lab Alumni

                        Ron Israeli, MS, Master's candidate, 2020-2023

                        Petra Telgkamp, Ph.D. Staff Scientist 2018-2022

                        Carolina Cywiak. Ph.D. PhD Student 2018-2022

                        Tyler VanBuren, MS: Master's candidate 2018-2021

                        Ryan Ashbaugh, MS: Master’s candidate, 2018-2021

                        Vijai Krishnan, Ph.D.:  Postdoctoral fellow 2016-2021

                        Ming Zhong, B.S.: Post-Baccalaureate Student, 2018-2020

                        Josue Franco, B.S.: Post-Baccalaureate Student, 2019-2020

                        Xiang Liu, M.S. M.D.: PhD Student, 2019-2020

                        Shengqiang Xu, Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2015-2019

                        Samuel Shin, M.D., Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2016-2018

                        Jariel Ramirez-Virella, B.S., Post-Baccalaureate Student, 2018-2019

                        Sarah Park, Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2012-2014

                        Yan Jouroukhin, Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2012-2014

                        Ya Yang, Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2012-2014

                        Tali Kobilo-Moav, Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2013-2015

                        Mary Sorrell, Ph.D.: Postdoc fellow, 2014-2016

                        Nan Li, Ph.D.: Ph.D. student, 2008-2013

                        Yang Han: M.A. student, 2011-2012

                        John Downey: Undergraduate student, 2008-2011

                        Albert Mendoza: Summer student, 2014

                        William Stokes: Laboratory technician, 2015-2017

                        Anna Heeyun Schwarz: Undergraduate student, 2015-2017

                        Benjamin Thiesen: M.D. Student, 2015-2017

                        Join the Pelled Lab

                        For more information about available positions and how to apply please email Galit Pelled.

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