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Principal Investigator


Piali Sengupta

A.B. Bryn Mawr College
Ph.D. MIT (Advisor: Brent Cochran)
Postdoc UCSF (Advisor: Cori Bargmann)


I’ve always been fascinated by the complex interactions between animals and their environment. As a grad student, I studied pheromone signaling in S. cerevisiae and then discovered the wonderful C. elegans system as a postdoc in Cori Bargmann's lab then at UCSF. My lab continues to use C. elegans as the primary experimental organism, although we have also started some work in the vertebrate nervous system. A PI's ‘job’ is constantly unpredictable and always interesting, and it is great fun to be able to interact with and learn from so many smart, interesting, and interested lab members and peers.  I love to travel (the more remote the better), am a bookaholic and a movie buff, and am trying to teach myself to play the drums.


Research Associates


Hillary Katz

Lab Technician

B.A. Smith College


I have worked in the lab for over 25 years. I have held various positions from Research Associate to Lab Manager to Applications Scientist in academia as well as industry. In the Sengupta Lab I am responsible for ongoing daily lab support and preparation of consumables. In my spare time I enjoy reading, baking, and spending time with my family.


Charmi Porwal

Lab Manager

B.S. Dr. D.Y Patil Medical College


I am currently pursuing a master’s in Neuroscience. In the Sengupta lab, in addition to performing my managerial duties, I love doing science and the challenges which come along with it. Outside of lab life, I enjoy painting human abstracts and binging on crime series.

Postdoctoral Fellows


Nathan Harris

Ph.D. University of California San Francisco

(Advisor: Grae Davis)


I am interested in the mechanisms by which an animal's experience influences neuronal gene expression, and how alteration of gene expression drives neuronal plasticity. I am using C. elegans thermotaxis behavior and temperature preference as a model in which to connect stimulus-dependent changes in gene expression to neuronal function and behavior. In my free time I enjoy rock climbing and listening to music.

Funded by F32 NS112453 and T32 NS007292


Alison Philbrook

Ph.D. University of Massachusetts Medical School 

(Advisor: Mike Francis)


I am interested in understanding how cilia morphology regulates sensory neuron function. Chemosensory neurons in C. elegans exhibit a range of morphologically distinct cilia. My current project aims to characterize how specialized cilia morphologies contribute to the unique responses of individual chemosensory neurons, and how in turn sensory activity shapes cilia structure. In my free time, I enjoy watching movies and exploring national parks.

Funded by T32 NS007292 and F32 DC018453


Jamie Jihye Yeon

Ph.D. Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology

(Advisor: Kyuhyung Kim)


I’m interested in the mechanisms  by which genetic factors contribute to  experience-dependent plasticity in thermosensory neuron function. Currently, I am investigating how food deprivation alters thermosensitivity in C. elegans. In my free time, I enjoy taking pictures and watching good movies.


Arindam Dutta

Ph.D. Bose Institute, University of Calcutta

(Advisor: Tapan K Dutta)


My interest lies in deciphering how gut colonizing bacteria influence the neuronal activity involved in the
chemosensory detection of different kinds of sensory stimuli and downstream processing of the input
stream of sensory information. Currently, I am investigating how gut commensal bacteria influence C.
pheromone production and thus regulate its behavior in an ecologically relevant manner. Apart
from this, I am a soccer lover, so in my free time, I love watching soccer games. Also, I enjoy reading books
on popular science.


Nikhila Krishnan

Ph.D. Syracuse University 

(Advisor: Heidi Hehnly)


I am broadly interested in identifying the functional importance of cilia in neurons. Specifically, my current project aims to identify the role of cilia-cilia contacts, its functional relevance in the sensory neurons of C. elegans and the molecular machinery that facilitate these contacts. In my free time, I enjoy playing tennis, reading and cooking.


Priya Dutta

Ph.D. Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

(Advisor: Krishanu Ray)


My interest lies in exploring the role of different ciliary lipids and their modifying enzymes in
regulating the mechanisms required for restricting the ciliary receptor and membrane content to
maintain functionality and the homogeneity of the structural architecture of the cilia. Especially with
different types of sensory cilia displaying different membranous architecture of the outer segment.
The C. elegans thermosensory AFD neuron consists of a cilium which is surrounded by membranous
microvilli, and sensory proteins differentially localize to these individual compartments. Currently, I
am investigating the mechanisms involved in facilitating this differential distribution of sensory
proteins to the AFD cilia versus the microvilli.
In my free time, I enjoy painting, cooking, gardening, and Netflix.


Graduate Students

Grad Students

Anjali Pandey

MCB Ph.D. Candidate 

B.S. UMASS Boston


I am interested in learning how context can modulate behavior on the cellular level. Specifically, I'm looking at how olfactory behavior in the worm can change depending on the context of other odorants. I am currently working to identify what proteins are playing a role in context-dependent changes.


Sam Bates

MCB PhD Candidate

B.S. UMASS Lowell


I am interested in studying the transcriptional regulatory programs that govern experience dependent plasticity. Using C.elegans thermosensory neurons as a model, we hope to uncover how sensory information is communicated to the genome to modulate the temperature activation threshold based on recent temperature experience. In my free time I enjoy watching 80s action movies.


Jamie Stonemetz 

Neuro PhD Student

B.S. Skidmore College


I am interested in how sensory stimuli impact gene expression, and how those changes alter behavior. Specifically, I am studying how temperature changes alter gene expression in the thermosensory neurons of C. elegans. When I’m not working, I enjoy playing roller derby, knitting, and live music.


Neuro PhD Student

B.S. Syracuse University


I am interested in understanding the mechanisms required for cilia growth and regeneration. Currently, I am starting a project with the hopes of finding what proteins are responsible for cilia regrowth in different types of dysfunctional IFT mutants.  In my free time, I enjoy reading, painting, and staying active.


Neuro PhD Student

B.A. Middlebury College


I am interested in studying how an animal changes its behavior in response to its environmental stimuli. More specifically, I am using C. elegans to understand how an increase in temperature alters the gene expression that drives temperature-dependent behavioral plasticity.  In my free time, I like to knit, play ultimate frisbee, and read.



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Maya Katz



I am interested in studying the neural basis of animal behavior. I am majoring in Neuroscience and Biology and currently plan to pursue either a graduate degree in Neuroscience or a career in medicine.

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