Gittis Lab

Lab Members

The Team









Aryn Gittis

Principal Investigator

Email: agittis AT

Aryn Gittis, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Neuroscience Institute at CMU. She received her undergraduate degree from Brandeis University in 2001 and was a Fulbright Scholar in France from 2001-2002. She received her PhD from UCSD in 2008 where she studied with Sascha du Lac, and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Anatol Kreitzer’s lab at the Gladstone Institute/UCSF in 2012. For her postdoctoral work, she was awarded a K99 from NINDS and was a 2012 Finalist for the Eppendorf & Science Prize for Neurobiology.

She joined CMU in 2012, where her lab uses electrophysiology, optogenetics, and computational approaches to study the progression of neural circuit dysfunction in mouse models of Parkinson’s disease, with the goal of developing strategies to guide therapeutic plasticity that can repair circuit dysfunction and restore movement. She has received numerous awards for this work, including a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant in 2013, the Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award from the Society for Neuroscience in 2018, and was a Finalist for the Science and PINS Prize for Neuromodulation in 2018.

Aryn enjoys chocolate. White chocolate is her favorite.

Mary Cundiff, Ph.D.


Email: mcundiff AT

Mary is a Ph.D. candidate in CMU’s Biological Sciences Program. She holds a Master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Villanova. She studies the connectivity of basal ganglia nuclei to downstream regions in the brainstem and their relevance in rescuing motor deficits of a Parkinsonian model.

Mary mooches food from everyone in the lab. Mary has been running this website and loves the people in this lab <3

Shruti Nanivadekar

M.D./Ph.D. Candidate

Email: snanivad AT

Shruti is an M.D./Ph.D. student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, pursuing a Ph.D. in Neural Computation at CMU. She is interested in utilizing modeling and behavioral approaches to understand the cellular mechanisms that can optimize deep brain stimulation in a Parkinsonian model.

Shruti cannot make 1x PBS but can do incredibly complicated ephys experiments.

Maxime Vounatsos

Ph.D. Candidate

Email: mvounats AT

Maxime is a Ph.D. student in CMU’s Biological Sciences program. He is interested in the retrorubral field, home to the A8 dopaminergic neurons.

Maxime is actually an 80 year old man. He could survive on Totino’s pizza rolls alone.

Emma Gao

Ph.D. Student

Email: yag2 AT

Emma is a Ph.D. student in the Program of System Neuroscience (PSN) at CMU. She graduated B.S. from Brandeis University. In Gittis Lab, she studies circuit plasticity and cognitive function in the progression of Parkinson’s Disease.

Emma has a super cute kitten named Mittens! See below.

Lauren Sabo

Research Associate II/Ph.D. Student

Email: lejohnso AT

Lauren is a first-year PhD student in the Neural Computation program who has been aiding our lab with mice vocalization recordings for a lab rotation project. She joined CMU after earning her MS in Electrical Engineering and Graduate Certificate in Cognitive Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2019. She also received her BS in Computer Engineering from UNCC, and her Associate’s in Science from Central Piedmont Community College. Her research interests are in multimodal and/or inexpensive technological applications for usage in treatment efficacy and diagnostic validations – particularly for neurocognitive disorders and disabilities. As such, her work in our lab has been investigating audio recordings of calls in naive and PD mice to distinguish whether PD mice models include any form of detectable tremor through their vocal control or lack thereof.

In her free time, Lauren enjoys playing video or board games with friends, rock climbing, and cuddling with her cats. She also loves attending DEI related seminars, as well as advocacy groups on campus about disability research and accommodations in industry and academia.

Kyle O’Berry

Ph.D. Student

Email: koberry AT

Kyle is a first-year Ph.D. student in CMU’s Biological Sciences Program. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Currently, his research topic is TBD.
Kyle’s favorite receptor is the melanocortin 3 receptor (MC3R).
Welcome to the lab!

Isabella Salas-Allende

M.D./Ph.D. Student

Email: Salas-Allende.Isabella AT

Isabella is an M.D./Ph.D. student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at CMU. She is excited to start in the lab and learn how to use optogenetics, histology, and behavior to study neural circuits in the basal ganglia.

Isabella could cure diseases with her positive energy alone.

Welcome to the lab!

Krishna Muthukumarappan, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Email: kmuthuk2 AT

Krishna is a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University.

Welcome to the lab!

Thomas Fuchs, Ph.D.


Email: thomasfu AT

A long time ago, Tom got a master’s in Zoology from the University of Vienna in Austria. He then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at Bowling Green State University, a title widely considered the equivalent of a black belt in Neuroscience. But that was not enough. After two postdocs (Washington State and Penn State), separated by a brief teaching stint (UPJ), he settled down “near” Pittsburgh to quietly live out his days. In 2018, he was hired at CMU. The rest is history…

Tom has studied some of the most random and cool model organisms.

Rachel Bouchard, M.S.

Laboratory Manager

Email: rachelsb AT

After earning her master’s degree in Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh, she helped start the Gittis Lab in 2012. After a few years away, she is now back in the lab! Academia will always have her heart. When not doing experiments, she enjoys spending time with her family. She is always open to talking about experiments and cool new data!

Rachel is our Mother of Dragons.

Henry Liu

Graduate Student Researcher

Email: hwliu AT

Henry is a Master’s student at Carnegie Mellon University studying Biomedical Engineering and is on the pre-med track. He also completed his undergraduate degree at CMU in Neurobiology and Piano Performance within the BXA interdisciplinary degree program. Within the Gittis lab, he is involved in training the B-SOID model to recognize and quantify mouse movement in Parkinsonian mouse studies.

Henry is the most patient person in the lab.

Owen Hershey

Undergraduate Researcher

Email: ohershey AT

Owen is an Undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University studying Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering. He plans on going to law school post-grad and entering the intellectual property/healthcare law field.  In the Gittis lab he is involved in the immunohistochemical analysis of Parkinsonian mice models.


Alumni Lab Members

Asier Aristieta Arbelaiz, Ph.D.
Postdoc, Tuscon, AZ

Jeff Yurek
Krystal BioTech, Pittsburgh, PA

Dan Albaugh, Ph.D.
Medical Writer, Cincinnati, OH

Katrina Nguyen, Ph.D.
Postdoc, Denver, CO

Jenna Schwenk
Graduate Student, Denver, CO

Brian Isett, Ph.D.
Bioinformatics Senior Research Specialist, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Ian Rosner
Previous Graduate Student

Teresa Spix, Ph.D.
Previous Graduate Student

Christen Snyder
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Michigan

Tim Whalen, Ph.D.
Data Scientist, Design Interactive

Liz Wendel
Research Associate, University of Pittsburgh

Victoria Corbit, Ph.D.
Postdoc, Princeton

Amanda Willard, Ph.D.
Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of
Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University

Yazel Goksen
Resident Physician in Allegheny Health Network

Kevin Zitelli
Research Associate, Inscopix

Kevin Mastro, Ph.D.
Postdoc, Harvard

Fluffy Lab Members

Mittens (Parent: Emma)









Daisy (Parent: Mary)