Team members

Darijana Horvat - Research Assistant / Lab Manager

d-horvat@tamu.edu

Darijana Horvat received her B.S. in Chemistry from Texas A&M University. During her undergraduate career, she worked with Dr. Coran Watanabe investigating the mode of action and biosynthesis of azinomycin B. She also interned at the Institute Rudjer Boskovic (Division of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry) in Zagreb, Croatia where she separated enantiomers using HPLC.

 

After graduation Darijana worked in several labs, studying preeclampsia, hypertension, cancer (cholangiocarcinoma), lymphatics, microbial pathogenesis and immunology. She joined the Geoffroy lab in December 2019 as the Research Assistant/Lab manager. One of her projects is to test the protective and regenerative properties of different test compounds in mice models of spinal cord injury.

 

In her free time Darijana enjoys playing trivia, board games and billiards with her friends and family. She likes music, live theater performances, movies and TV shows. In her quiet time she loves to read books.

Theresa Sutherland - Post-Doc

tsutherland@tamu.edu

Theresa completed a Bachelor of Forensic Biology in Biomedical Science from the University of Technology Sydney (yes, Australia!), with a special interest in DNA profiling and ambition to work in CSI. Then she completed a Bachelor of Science (Honors) in Biomedical Science at UTS where she studied the acute cellular response to SCI in different ages of rats. Theresa then obtained her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at UTS in Dr. Catherine Gorrie lab (University of Technology Sydney) studying injury progression and neuro-inflammation after SCI with a particular focus on the differences between adult and pediatric SCI.

 

Theresa recently joined our lab to continue working on the themes of age and SCI, looking into older animal this time…She's trying to understand the age-dependent decline in the growth and regenerative potential of axons, with a specific interest in the role of STAT3 and mitochondrial dynamics. The eventual goal of which is to restore regenerative potential to aged axons, and find strategies to enhance axon growth and functional recovery after SCI irrespective of age. She is also involved in different projects aiming at developing tools to accelerate the discovery of molecules controlling axon growth (non-viral CRISPR/Cas9 in vivo targeting, in vivo protein delivery, 3D imaging). In the long term (very long term), she hopes to marry this ongoing work to her interest in pediatric SCI and to get a map/timeline of neuro-inflammation and axon regeneration across all ages to find effective therapeutics for all SCI patients.

Theresa loves to escape into different worlds- Movies, Books, Music, TV- and explore this one (yes, traveling!). Also, she can not stop drinking coffee...

Adel Ghnenis - Post-Doc

ghnenis@tamu.edu

Adel comes all the way from Libya. He was initially trained as a Veterinarian, at the University of Tripoli, Libya. After that, he completed a MSc. at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, on Molecular Parasitology, where he investigated the expression and stability of parasite antigens and DNA. He moved to the US, University of Wyoming, and obtained his Ph.D. in Animal and Veterinary Science. He evaluated the impacts of maternal nutrition during early gestation on fetal growth and development as well as offspring health and productivity. He examined the glucocorticoid metabolism pathways and evaluated the expression of 11β-hydroxy steroid dehydrogenase system in different tissues including placental, heart, liver, and adipose tissues. He also investigated fibrosis in the liver and heart of maternally obese/ nutrient restricted offspring. Adel then joined Jared Bushman's lab (University of Wyoming) for a brief postdoc, where he studied sex and diet-dependent metabolic changes occurring after spinal cord injury.

 

Adel's main research interest is to better understand the systemic cardio - metabolic alterations that occur in chronic SCI and develop effective therapeutic interventions to reduce major health issues associated with SCI, using drugs and genetic tools to target specific signaling pathways. He's also involved in projects characterizing how SCI can induce bowel dysfunction and finding ways to re-activate the colonic activity.

He loves playing (and watching) soccer! Allez les bleus! (ok, maybe he's not cheering for the French...yet)

Graduate Students

Arthur Sefiani​ (sefiani@tamu.edu)

Arthur first completed a Bachelors of Science in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior at University of California, Davis where he was involved in studying the relationship between proteasomes and cardiovascular disease and also how attention influences one’s neural analysis of sound. Afterward, he became a lab technician at a forensic laboratory, one of the few places that conduct hair follicle drug testing. He then completed his Masters of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California where he worked on developing several methods to accurately quantify the kinetic rates of RNA binding protein. Arthur is currently a Ph.D. student in the Medical Sciences program in the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics.

He spends all his free time weight lifting or eating, sometimes both.

Undergraduates

Undergraduates

Lily Kuhlman 

Lily Kuhlman is a member of Texas A&M’s class of 2021 and is from Houston, Texas. She is working towards a B.S. in Biology and Genetics. She joined the lab in the Fall of 2018. Lily is currently involved with the testing of a drug, in collaboration with a biotech company (Axoltis), to determine if this drug can promote functional recovery after spinal cord injury (using the activity chamber system). She is also assessing if this treatment can enhance neuroprotection, axon regeneration and reduce the injury site.

She plans on attending medical school after receiving her undergraduate degree, and would like to do medical outreach either domestically or abroad. Outside of research, she is involved with her women’s organization, and enjoys spending her spare time outdoors or with her head stuck in a book. 

Calvin Jones

Calvin is a Biomedical Engineering undergraduate student at Texas A&M from El Paso, Texas but more importantly, is the loudest and proudest member of the fighting Texas Aggie class of 2021. Currently, Calvin is working with Dr. Adel Ghnenis to study the effects SCI has on bowel movement. Calvin joined the lab Summer of 2019.

Calvin aspires to go to medical school after completing his bachelor’s degree. Although open to different pathways, Calvin wishes to become a Radiologist to combine both his engineering background and passion for medicine. 

Outside of lab Calvin enjoys playing sports, being outdoors, and spending time with friends and family.

Joshua Benton

Josh is a member of Texas A&M’s class of 2021, receiving a B.S. in  Biomedical Science with a Minor in Business. He’s working on different projects aiming at finding drugs able to promote axon regeneration in middle-age mice after spinal cord injury. He plans to attend medical school through the Air Force after receiving his undergraduate degree. He hopes to work in flight medicine to support airmen like my father who is a pilot.
Outside of the lab, he is part of a service organization as well as a Co-Chair for Fish Camp to welcome the Class of 2024. He’s also a weightlifter and wakeboarder in his free time.

Zoha Hassan

Zoha Hassan is a sophomore at Texas A&M University where she is majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Neuroscience. She is helping maintaining our large mouse colony and is also involved in behavioral testing in different projects. Zoha plans to attend medical school after graduating and hopes to specialize in anesthesiology. When she is not busy trying to balance her schoolwork and MCAT prep, she enjoys playing intramural basketball, reading young adult fantasy novels, and “attempting” to cook traditional Pakistani food.    

Justin Nguyen

Justin Nguyen is a kinesiology undergraduate student from Fort Worth, Texas and is part of the Texas A&M class of 2022. Justin joined the lab Spring 2020, and is currently tasked with image analysis of neurons' axons. 

He dreams of attending to dental school after graduation, hoping to use dentistry to improve the community and the world around him. When not in the lab, Justin enjoys time in his hobbies such as playing soccer, cooking, reading, spending time with family and friends.

Natalie Bachir

Natalie is the loudest and proudest member of the fightin' Texas Aggie class of 2022 (her words!). She is from Houston, Texas and is working towards a B.S. in Public Health and a minor in business. She joined the lab in the Spring of 2020. As an undergraduate researcher, Natalie is helping with the lab maintenance, colony management and is performing diverse behavior tests to assess functional recovery after spinal cord injury. After obtaining her bachelor's, Natalie wishes to further her education in medical school. Outside of research, she is a mentor to international students, a member of Starlight Aggies, and a volunteer at CHI St. Joseph's hospital. 

Mike Rivera

Mike is a member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2022 and is from Burnet, Texas. He is pursuing his B.S. in Biology, with a minor concentration in Psychology. He joined the lab during Fall 2020, where he is primarily focusing on the themes of extensive aging and SCI. 

Mike plans on furthering his education in medical school, where it is his mission to eventually sign with the United States Navy and pursue a career as a flight surgeon (a doctor/fighter pilot combo!). His primary interests regarding healthcare are orthopedic and trauma care, with a special interest for incorporating the biopsychosocial treatment methodology. Outside of research, Mike is the current sitting Texas A&M Student-Body Vice President where he is primarily focused on campus culture, tradition, and inclusivity enrichment. He is also a Resident Advisor, a member of the prestigious Traditions Council, and an avid hiker and fly-fisherman!

Eduardo Heredia

Eduardo Heredia is a Public Health major from Mission, Texas and is part of the Texas A&M class of 2023. Eduardo joined the lab Fall 2020 and is helping with studying how aging impacts spinal cord injury.

Eduardo dreams of attending medical school, becoming a surgeon one day to serve his community. Outside of the lab, Eduardo is the treasurer of LMSA PLUS at Texas A&M University and enjoys playing soccer, basketball and chess.

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