Team members

Darijana Horvat - Research Assistant / Lab Manager

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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. Did I mention she (really) loves chocolate?

Theresa Sutherland - Post-Doc


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...and teaching the lab "real" english (basically translating Australian to American...)

Adel Ghnenis - Post-Doc


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)

Calvin Jones - Research Assistant


Calvin graduated from Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M. Calvin used to work with Dr. Adel Ghnenis as an undergraduate student to study the effects SCI has on bowel movement and cardiometabolic disorders. He liked it so much he decided to stay in the lab! He is still working on similar topics but is now leading his own projects!

Calvin aspires to go to medical school. 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.

Graduate Students


Arthur Sefiani​ (

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.

M.D. Students


Kayla Callaway - M.D. Candidate, 2024

Kayla graduated from Texas A&M University as a member of the class of 2020 and is currently a medical student at Texas A&M College of Medicine. Before moving to College Station she lived in Houston, Texas, where she grew up. She is currently working on a project to help improve the outcomes of patients who have suffered a spinal cord injury. This project involves studying the relationship between the patient’s age and the amount of bone loss post-injury. When she is not studying for her medical school classes, she enjoys spending time with her family, exercising, and watching sports.

Master Students

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Chantal Neutzler 

Chantal Neutzler received a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Psychology in 2019 from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX. Currently, she is enrolled in the Master of Biotechnology program at Texas A&M. Chantal is studying bowel activity after spinal cord injury and ways to enhance mitochondrial activity to promote neuron survival and regeneration. She is originally from El Paso, TX and outside the lab she enjoys following European soccer leagues, cooking, and playing the viola.  



Ananya Pillai

Ananya a sophomore at is a Biomedical Sciences major from Frisco, Texas, and is a member of the Aggie Class of 2024. She is also a part of Maroon & White Leadership Fellows Society, Biomedical Sciences Research Program, Fish Council, and the University Honors Program. After graduating, Ananya plans to attend medical school in an effort to minimize healthcare disparities in Texas. Outside the lab, she loves all things breakfast food, working out, and listening to podcasts.

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Seeta Morey

Seeta is a microbiology major from Houston, Texas, and a member of the Texas A&M Class of 2023. After graduating, she plans to pursue a career in medicine and hopefully work at a non-profit organization. Outside of the lab, she enjoys baking, traveling, and reading historical fiction novels.


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. 

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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!

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Paul Hung

Paul Hung is a junior Biology student from Houston, Texas. Currently, he is working under the guidance of Dr. Theresa Sutherland on a project that explores the effects of aging and neuron-extrinsic factors in regards to axonal regeneration. After graduating from Texas A&M, Paul plans on attending medical school and is considering otolaryngology. On the weekends, he enjoys surfing, spending time with friends and family, reading, and getting outdoors.

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Alexandra Koustova

Alexandra is a biomedical engineering major from College Station, Texas and is a member of the Aggie Class of 2024. She joined the lab end 2020, working on projects studying the impact of spinal cord injury on cardiometabolic function.

Alexandra plans to attend medical school after graduating and wants to specialize in neurology. When not studying or at the lab, Alexandra enjoys playing tennis, piano, and spending time with family and friends!

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Cameron Lim

Cameron is part of the Texas A&M Class of 2023, where he is majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Biomedical Science. Following graduation, Cameron has aspirations to pursue a career in medicine, with current interests in critical care. Outside of the lab, he is a part of A&M's MAPS organization and enjoys playing tennis, spending time with family and friends, and TRYING to cook.

Sydney Graves

Sydney is a Biomedical Science major from Bandera, Texas and part of the Texas A&M Class of 2023. Her future plans include going to nursing school and eventually going on to be a Nurse Practitioner with a specialty in emergency medicine. Outside of the lab, she enjoys doing outdoors activities such as hiking and going to the beach. Some other hobbies of hers include staying active, volunteering, traveling and spending time with friends and family.