Department of Neurobiology Faculty & Staff Association for Postdocs & Early Career Scientists Association for Postdocs & Early Career Scientists Postdocs & Early Career Scientists David Ajasin, PhD Research Scientist × David Ajasin, PhD Dr. Ajasin is originally from Nigeria, and he did his undergraduate and masters at Lehman College (City University of New York), and later his PhD at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York with Dr. Vinayaka Prasad. He joined Dr. Eliseo Eugenin’s lab as a research scientist and his research has focused on HIV infection/replication and different comorbidities associated with HIV. He is specifically interested in unraveling the underlying mechanisms behind HIV-associated comorbidities such as HIV-associated cardiovascular disease (HIV-CVD) and Neuro-HIV. In addition, he is interested in exploring potential therapies that can inhibit the development of these comorbidities. Qiang Li, PhD Research Associate × Qiang Li, PhD Dr. Li completed his BSc and MA from Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China, and has a PhD in Neurobiology from the Army Medical University where he studied functional recovery and underlying cellular mechanisms of stroke and spinal cord injury. Currently, his research focuses on the compound treatment for severe spinal cord injury. His long-term research goals are to explore the mechanisms of circuits dysfunction after neuronal injury and to develop new approaches to promote functional recovery after spinal cord injury. Lisa Matz, PhD Postdoctoral Associate × Lisa Matz, PhD Dr. Matz received her BSc in Microbiology from Texas Tech University and her PhD from Baylor College of Medicine where she studied bacterial pathogenesis and innate immunology. Specifically, her work focused on using comparative genomics to inform vaccine development for a Tier 1 Select Agent. After completing her PhD, Lisa spent two years at UTHealth as a Postdoctoral Associate studying molecular mechanisms of post-transcriptional gene regulation in E. coli. Lisa is currently a Postdoctoral Associate in Dr. Shelly Buffington’s laboratory studying the gut-brain-immune axis. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, including preclinical mouse models and human clinical studies, Lisa is interested in learning how disruptive changes in bacterial communities and microbially-derived metabolites interact with the host to cause disease, and how these pathways can be targeted by therapeutics. Her current work contributes to addressing important human diseases such as neurodevelopment disorders (autism, ADHD), neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s Disease), and metabolic or inflammatory disorders (type 2 diabetes). Her long-term career goal is to pursue academic research exploring molecular mechanisms of microbiota-driven health and disease to address clinically relevant questions. Silvana Valdebenito, PhD Research Scientist × Silvana Valdebenito, PhD Dr. Valdebenito completed her BSc and PhD at the University of Chile in Chemistry. She then began a postdoc in Dr. Eliseo Eugenin’s laboratory, first at Rutgers University, and now at UTMB. Her work interests include HIV, cell-to-cell communication, and glioblastoma. Her long-term career goal is to become a PI in the field of tunneling nanotubes (TNTs) and HIV. Ramesh Pariyar, PhD Research Scientist × Ramesh Pariyar, PhD Dr. Pariyar completed his bachelor’s in pharmacy from Pokhara University in Kaski, Nepal, and has master’s in pharmacology and PhD in Pharmacy from the Wonkwang University, South Korea. During master and a PhD, he studied therapeutic approach and molecular mechanism of neurodegenerative disease, especially focused on Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Amnesia. At present, he is in the Dr. Chung/La laboratory as a research scientist and his research focuses on the mechanism of central sensitization underlying nociplastic pain. His long-term research goals are to explore the molecular mechanism and neural circuit behind neurodegenerative disease associated pain, and pharmacological interventions to prevent or treat these conditions.