Meet the team

Richard S Smith, he/him/his

My research passion is to understand fundamental biophysical mechanisms of human neocortex development, including how aberrant cellular excitability affects key biological processes underlying human neurodevelopmental diseases.  For my postdoctoral training, I transitioned from neurobiology-based methods in mouse sensory processing (Ph.D), to molecular and genetic approaches in human neurodevelopment (Post-doc). During my training with Dr. Christopher Walsh’s research group, I developed expertise in human genetics, molecular approaches, ferret and mouse cortex model, and single cell technologies. My laboratory works at the intersectional field of functional neurogenomics, moving human genetics findings into biologically relevant data and potentially therapeutics. During graduate school and post-doc, I have devoted significant efforts to training young scientists, particularly students from backgrounds underrepresented in science, and I plan to continue these important mentorship opportunities throughout my career. 

My time outside the lab includes my family, singing and music, Photography/print making, technology/gadgets.

Karla Itzel Soriano-Rodríguez

Karla completed her BSs in Basic Biomedical Research from National Autonomous University of Mexico. Karla's thesis, entitled "Generation and transplantation of midbrain organoids into parkinsonian rats" with Dr. Iván Velasco in the Biomedical Research Institute, Cellular Physiology Institute.

Her research interests include stem cell modeling (cerebral organoids and 2D models) of neurodevelopmental diseases.

Sean Golinski

Sean recently completed his Bachelor of Science in Physics from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Sean's previous research experience includes evaluating the efficacy of machine learning for coding practices, as well as his work as part of the Adult Development, Adaptation, & Technology Laboratory at UI, where he employed algorithms to track participants’ postural trajectory during balancing tasks through graphical and numerical techniques.

Sean will leverage his computational and mathematics background to model neurodevelopmental diseases related to childhood brain development. 

Sean is passionate about education, Sean also regularly tutors and teaches AP physics, undergraduate calculus, introductory programming, and has worked with aspiring US Physics Olympiads.

Alex Briegel

Alex is a PhD student in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience (NUIN) PhD program at Northwestern. Alex completed a joint Masters/Bachelors degree at the University of Virgina in Psychology and Neuroscience.

Alex's research interests include high content methods for analyzing 3D models of brain development. Alex also enjoys Star Wars, Zelda and his cat.

Zhao Dan, PhD

Dan's doctoral work focused on the "Identification and functional evaluation of AMPAR (GRIA3 and GRIA4) missense variants in patients with intellectual disability". Dan hopes to leverage her electrophysiology experience on ion channel and neurodevelopmental disorders to study prenatal pathology associated with ion channel dysfunction affecting newborns. 

Maddie Burke

Maddie recently completed her Bachelor of Science in Integrative Biology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Maddie's previous research experience includes studying the optimization of photosynthesis in soybeans and other agricultural crops. From photosynthetic processes she took the next logical step into biomedical research. With her interest in expanding her areas of research and understanding of molecular biology techniques, she hopes to develop her own area of research relating to biophysics, developmental biology, and pharmacology.

Maddie enjoys beekeeping on her free time. 

Pranav Inampudi

Pranav is an undergraduate researcher in the Northwestern Class of 2027. 

*Available Positions*

We interested in talented and passionate researchers who work well in a team and interested in neurobiology, development, and therapeutics. 

We deeply value unique scientific and cultural backgrounds, as we can leverage our unique histories to do both better science and grow as a team!

Please see Join for more info and how you could improve our team..