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


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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Rose Ying

Graduate Student

Rose graduated from Wake Forest University in 2017 with a B.S. in Biology and minor in Linguistics. As an undergraduate, she completed projects on feeding behavior with Dr. Wayne Pratt. Most recently, she worked in the labs of Dr. Garret Stuber and Dr. Melissa Herman at UNC Chapel Hill, where she developed an interest in delineating the neural circuits related to addiction disorders. As a graduate student under Dr. Melissa Caras, she looks to continue investigating neurocircuitry, particularly circuits involved in communication and auditory learning behaviors. Rose is an avid Netflixer, dog lover, and lacrosse player in her spare time.  

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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 | Post-bac trainee

Charlotte Cooper | Laboratory Technician

Lashaka Jones | Postdoctoral Researcher