Melissa Caras

Principal Investigator

Melissa received a B.S. in neuroscience with highest honors and B.S. in biology at Brandeis University, in Waltham, MA. She then took off for the west coast, earning a Ph.D. in neurobiology and behavior under the direction of Edwin Rubel and Eliot Brenowitz, at the University of Washington, in Seattle. After graduating, Melissa moved back east to pursue postdoctoral studies with Dan Sanes at New York University. Melissa is thrilled to now be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Maryland, and is excited to kick the Caras Lab into full gear.   CV | Email

Lashaka Jones

Postdoctoral Researcher

Lashaka received a B.S in biology at the Morgan State University, in Baltimore, Maryland, where she was a member of the MARC U STAR honors program, which is geared towards increasing the presence of underrepresented groups in the biomedical sciences. As a result of this opportunity, she performed research at Morgan State under Dr. Gloria Hoffman, and completed a summer internship at Emory University under Dr. Larry Young. After Morgan, Lashaka attended Lehigh University to obtain her Ph.D. in Biology. She is currently completing her dissertation work under Dr. R. Michael Burger. Lashaka is excited to continue her research career in the Caras lab at the University of Maryland, beginning in early 2020. Lashaka now takes great pride in mentoring undergraduate researchers as she was!

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Steven Cerna

Laboratory Technician

Steven received a B.S. in Kinesiology from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he volunteered in Dr. Julia Cherry’s wetland ecology lab. Steve completed the Health Careers Opportunity Program at Marquette University, beginning his biomedical research background. After graduating, Steven was an NIH PREP scholar at Virginia Tech in Dr. Michelle Theus’ neuroscience lab, where he completed an independent research project. Steven spent the summer of 2019 as an MHIRT scholar with San Diego State University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan completing a short-term microbiology research project at Kaohsiung Medical University. Steven is eager to aid in ushering in the Caras lab to the University of Maryland this coming Fall.

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Charlotte Cooper

Laboratory Technician

Charlotte received her B.S. in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, Virginia, where she graduated with honors. As an undergraduate, she completed an internship in Dr. Kirk Brown’s social psychology lab, where she realized her interest in behavioral neuroscience. She also interned in Dr. Joseph Porter’s biopsychology lab, and presented research she worked on at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago. After graduating, she worked under Dr. Patrick Beardsley at VCU Health Pharmacology & Toxicology. She is currently a member of the surgical implant team at Champions Oncology in Rockville, Maryland. She is looking very much forward to returning her focus to research in academia in the Caras Lab at the University of Maryland this fall. 

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