Rihel Lab



Jason RihelProfessor of Behavioural Genetics -- Jason Rihel, PhD

Jason fell in love with the molecular dissection of behavior as an undergraduate in Jeff Price's lab at West Virginia University, where he worked on the fruit fly circadian clock mutant, double-time. He pursued his PhD in Catherine Dulac's lab at Harvard University (1998-2004), studying the molecular underpinnings of mouse pheromone detection. For his postdoctoral work, Jason joined Alexander Schier's lab, first at the Skirball Institute at NYU and then back at his old haunt in the Biolabs of Harvard University (2004-2011). Together with David Prober (now at CalTech), Jason worked out methods to study the molecular biology of sleep in zebrafish.

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Ozcan Alzheimer's Research UK Fellow -- Guliz Ozcan, PhD

Guliz is a Research Associate at UCL with a broad research interest in molecular mechanisms of neural signaling and behavior. She is currently working on genes and neural pathways that regulate sleep in zebrafish at the Rihel Lab. Prior to joining UCL, Guliz worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Yale University, at the Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry Department and focused on serotonin signaling in C. elegans. She completed her PhD also at Yale in 2009 in Biophysical Chemistry with a focus on the antibiotic specificity of the ribosome using X-ray crystallographic and mutational techniques.


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FRM Fellow (2016-17)/EMBO Fellow (2017-)-- Declan Lyons, PhD

Declan is a postdoctoral researcher in the lab whose work focuses on how sleep helps preserve and enhance brain function and cognitive performance. Much of these efforts involve disturbing normal sleep processes and investigating how this affects specific behaviours and the associated neural circuits. Declan’s research during his doctoral studies (at Serge Charpak’s lab in Paris) was based around using optical techniques to study cerebral oxygenation and the regulation of blood flow in the brain. He has long been fascinated by the question of why exactly sleep is so important for cognitive processes and mental health, and joined the lab in 2016 to use the skills he developed during his PhD to explore these topics.




Research Associate-- Tanushree Kundu, PhD

Tanushree is a postdoctoral researcher broadly interested in neurodevelopment and cognition. Her current work investigates the functional properties of a new cell type in zebrafish meninges that are hypothesized to improve waste clearance from the brain during sleep. She did her doctoral research in neuronal cell biology (at Aurnab Ghose’s lab at IISER, Pune, India) focussing on mechanisms of neuronal migration during brain circuit formation.





PhD Student -- Talia Pittman

Talia started her PhD in the Rihel lab in 2020. She is interested in untangling the molecular pathways and neuronal circuits that underpin sleep pressure and homeostasis. Specifically, she will be investigating the role of galanin in rebound sleep. After completing her Bachelor’s in Biochemistry at the University of Manchester, Talia joined Prof Karl Kadler’s group as a research intern. During her time there, she conducted an independent investigation of the effect of cancer cells on the circadian rhythm of fibroblasts. Talia is passionate about media and science communication; she has experience in both radio and documentary film making and looks forward to sharing the findings from her PhD with the public.






PhD Student -- Talya Goble

Prior to joining the lab, Talya completed her MSc in Clinical Neuroscience at UCL where she explored the effects of antidepressants on cognition and neural activity in patients with anxiety disorders.  Since then, Talya’s interests  have moved closer to the bench where she is interested in understanding the cellular and molecular basis of Alzheimer’s Disease. While in the lab, she will investigate a newly identified population of meningeal lymphatic cells and explore a role for these cells in the interaction between brain clearance, sleep behaviours, and pathology.





PhD Student -- Lavitasha Tirathdas

Lavitasha became fascinated by molecular research while completing her undergrad dissertation in the Wilson lab at UCL, where she worked on characterizing a zebrafish zinc transporter mutant. She later expanded her interests to neural circuits and systems neuroscience while doing a rotation at the O’Keefe lab at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, where she explored the consequences of amyloid-beta and tau tangle pathology in a knock-in mouse model. In the Rihel lab, Lavitasha is excited to uncover the molecular pathways and circuits underlying the impact of amyloid beta oligomers on sleep and wake behaviour.






Research Technician-- Shreena Nayee

Shreena joined the lab in 2019 while studying MSc Neuroscience at UCL, during which she investigated the role of hypocretin neurons in the regulation of sleep/wake behaviour. Currently, Shreena is focused on disentangling the relationship between the circadian and homeostatic regulation of sleep.





Other Students and Staff:

2023-24 Katerina Tsantila, Neuroscience Masters student

2022-present Josh Donnelly, Research Technician





Research Fellow -- Sumi Lim

Sumi completed her MSc in Animal Genetic Engineering at Seoul National University and bulit up research experience in Neuroscience at MEDIPOST by working on stem cell therapy for Alzheimer's disease. Sumi has mainly helped Dr. Guliz Ozcan to identify neurons and molecules in the brain that are important for amyloid beta sleep regulation and also developed her own project to examine sleep homeostasis mutants.



PhD Alum (Research Fellow 2022-2023)-- Francois Kroll

Francois is a PhD student in the Rihel lab since 2018. He is interested in links between sleep and dementia, specifically whether genes associated with Alzheimer’s may confer risk by directly disrupting sleep. To address this question, he is currently optimising a method to rapidly generate zebrafish knockouts. Francois has some experience in neurodegeneration research. He did a short bioinformatic project at the University of Brussels and University of Leuven on deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s. During his Master’s thesis, he worked at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco on assessing novel ketomimetic compounds in Alzheimer’s mouse models.




PhD Alum (Research Fellow, 2022-23) -- Anya Suppermpool, PhD

Anya joined the Rihel lab as an MRes student in 2015, during which she investigated behavioral and neurodevelopmental deficits in zebrafish models of Fragile X Syndrome. As a PhD student, she is currently developing tools to study synapse dynamics to investigate how synapses dynamically change across behavioral states in normal zebrafish larva as well as models of disease.






Sabine Reichert Sir Henry Wellcome Trust Fellow (2014-2019)-- Sabine Reichert, PhD

Dr. Reichert earned her PhD in 2014 from the London Research Institute (LSI) in the laboratory of Dr. Caroline Hill, where she investigated the signals involved in the specification of cells at the neural plate border during embryonic development. Using Xenopus and zebrafish embryos in combination with tissue culture and molecular biology approaches, she was able to identify an intricate BMP regulatory network that controls ectodermal cell fate decisions at the neural plate border. This work was published in Development. For her postdoctoral work in the Rihel lab (for which she obtained a prestigious Sir Henry Wellcome Trust Fellowship), Dr. Reichert switched gears to study behavioral and functional neuroscience in zebrafish. Her research interests include understanding the neuronal circuits that respond to sleep deprivation and how these processes may go awry in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.





Shannon Shibata

PhD Alumna (defended 2019)-- Shannon Shibata

Shannon joined the Rihel lab following her completion of her MSc in Neuroscience at UCL. Previously her career for over a decade had been in Middle East conflict management, living between Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Amman. During her time in the Middle East, Shannon became deeply interested in the interdependent effects of nature and nurture (specifically the effects of generational conflict) together on human development, leading her to consider pursuing a lifelong academic passion in Neuroscience and Molecular Biology. During her PhD, she is now focusing on the sleep dependent "glymphatic" clearance mechanism of the brain. The glymphatic system is thought to aid in the clearance of molecular 'waste' from the brain, much as the lymphatic system manages body waste. She investigated the evolutionary conservation of the glymphatic system in the zebrafish and particularly how sleep is functionally related to the clearance process.



Marcus Ghosh

PhD Alumnus (defended 2018)-- Marcus Ghosh

Marcus joined the Rihel lab as an undergraduate in September 2013; for the academic year he studied how neural circuits regulate sleep behaviour in zebrafish. As an MBPhD student Marcus now studies the behavioural and neurodevelopmental functions of autism-associated genes. Through his research Marcus hopes to understand how genetic mutations could underpin the diverse range of behavioural abnormalities observed in individuals with autistic spectrum disorder.





PhD Alumna (defended 2017)-- Dr. Ida Barlow

Ida joined the Rihel lab in January 2013 having graduated in Biochemistry from Oxford University in 2012. During her final year of studies she became interested in how the powerful tools of molecular biology and pharmacology can be used to elucidate the mechanisms behind everyday behaviours, such as sleep. Aside from trying to decipher how her favourite gene (named after a Pokemon character) regulates zebrafish behaviour, she also likes to take her science out to the streets of London by writing various blog posts (UCL Neuroscience and Science in Parliament), attempting a bit of stand-up (through UCL’s Bright Club), and Science Busking for the Crick Institute. Ida went on to do a postdoc in the Brown lab at Imperial College.

Vanda Reiss--Master's student, 2022

Eleanor Benoit--Master's student, 2022

Cleo Huang-- 3rd year intercalated Neuroscience Medical Student, 2012-13

Liam O'Leary -- 3rd year Library Project Student, 2013-14

Hiranmay Joag-- Visiting Student Scholar, 2013

Laura Nery -- visiting PhD student, CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education Brazil

Alessandro Galloni-- Dean's Summer Fellow and 4th year Master's Student 2014-15

Aimee Goel-- 3rd year IBSc Student, 2014-2015

Karim Rashidmanesh -- MSc Neuroscience Student, 2013/ Visiting Scholar

Cristina Velasquez-- MSc Neuroscience, 2014-15

Eva Naumann, PhD -- Marie Curie Fellow 2013-2015

Emily Wheater -- MRes project; currently, PhD student, University of Edinburgh

Swarali Paradkar -- 3rd year research project

Laura Garmendia Sanchez -- 4th year research project

Tom Black -- 4th year Masters project

Aisling O'Sullivan-- 3rd year iBSc student

Kamila Suzsko -- final year project

Susanne Hamza-- 3rd year project

Emilia Johnson-- 3rd year project

Rebecca Thorne-- 3rd year project

YounJae Kang-- MSc Neuroscience Masters project

Ally Gilbert-- MSc Neuroscience Masters project

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