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 uncover basic mechanisms of sensory learning and plasticity.   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 where she received a Ph.D. in Biology, under the guidance of  Dr. R. Michael Burger. Lashaka is excited to continue her research career in the Caras lab at the University of Maryland. Lashaka now takes great pride in mentoring undergraduate researchers as she was!

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Matheus Macedo-Lima

Postdoctoral Researcher

Matt received a B.S. in biology from the Universidade Federal de Sergipe, Brazil. Before graduating, he completed a 1-year study-abroad program at the University of Washington Bothell. During this time, Matt worked with Rachel Cohen in lab of Eliot Brenowitz at the University of Washington Seattle. After returning to Brazil and graduating, Matt returned to the USA, to earn his PhD at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, working with Luke Remage-Healey. Throughout his career, Matt has been very active in science outreach as a contributor in the pop science blog Saense (for the Portuguese-speaking community), and as a communicator in the Skype a Scientist initiative. Matt is passionate about studying animal brains from a comparative perspective and is very excited to work in the Caras lab to study the neuromodulators that participate in perceptual learning. 

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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. More recently, she was a member of the surgical implant team at Champions Oncology in Rockville, Maryland. She is currently pursuing academic research in the Caras Lab at the University of Maryland.

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Rakshita Balaji

Undergraduate Researcher

Rakshita is a freshman Neurobiology and Physiology major who is deeply interested in neuroscience and hopes to pursue a career in the field of scientific research. In high school, her curiosity for neuroscience was bolstered by her work at the Keller Lab of Sensory Perception at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Medicine. At UMD College Park, she is a member of the Gemstone Honors program, which is centered around undergraduate, student-led research. She is also a UMD Honors Ambassador, a singer in the UMD treble choir, a member of the Rising Researchers club, and a part of the International Youth Neuroscience Association. She greatly looks forward to furthering her learning and growth through working in the Caras Lab. 

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Gabriel Dayanim

Undergraduate Researcher

Gabe is a sophomore Neuroscience major from Philadelphia who hopes to pursue a career in medicine and/or research. He became interested in neuroscience research while in the Bhatnagar Lab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and has continued ever since with his work at the Johns Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine and in UMD’s Gemstone research program. Gabe is a campus ambassador for Gift of Life, a bassist in the University of Maryland Repertoire Orchestra, and an active member of the UMD Hillel. He is also an avid musician, cook, and hiker. Gabe is excited to work and learn in the Caras Lab.

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Former lab members

Steven Cerna | Laboratory Technician