David Prober, Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering
David Prober performed his graduate work in Bruce Edgar's lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where he studied mechanisms that regulate cell growth and the cell cycle in the Drosophila wing. For his postdoctoral studies, David joined Alex Schier's lab at the Skirball Institute and Harvard University. Together with Jason Rihel, David developed genetic, molecular and behavioral methods to study mechanisms that regulate sleep using zebrafish. David's work has been recognized by an NIH Pathway to Independence Award, a Sleep Research Society Young Investigator Award, an NINDS R35 Research Program Award, and awards from the Edward Mallinckrodt Jr., Rita Allen, and Brain and Behavioral Research Foundations. David grew up in Winnipeg, perhaps best known as the target of derogatory comments (sadly, usually true) on The Simpsons, and does not miss the Canadian winter.
Amina Kinkhabwala, Staff Scientist
Amina Kinkhabwala received her BA and MA in physics before deciding that physics was boring and switching to neuroscience. She received her PhD in Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University in Joe Fetcho's lab, where she studied how transcription factor and neurotransmitter stripes provide a simple toolkit used by diverse neural circuits in the zebrafish hindbrain. As a postdoctoral fellow she switched to mouse neural circuits involved in navigation in David Tank's lab. She defined how grid cells respond to navigation of virtual environments and discovered a novel cell type that encodes distance to cues. She is excited to be back with zebrafish and is currently classifying zebrafish behavioral and brain states to better understand what changes during sleep. In her free time she tries to go rock climbing as much as her two year old will let her.
Grigorios Oikonomou, Staff Scientist
Grigorios Oikonomou got his B.S. in Biology from the University of Athens in Greece. He then joined the lab of Shai Shaham at Rockefeller University, where he studied the role of glia in sensory organ morphogenesis. In the Prober lab he has been investigating the role of major neurotransmitters in sleep regulation. He is the recipient of a Della Martin Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. When he is not loading videotracker plates or optimizing his matlab scripts, he likes to travel, hike and read. He is very proud of his tzatziki protocol.
Andrey Andreev, Postdoctoral Fellow
Andrey Andreev works on custom microscopy for zebrafish whole-brain imaging. After receiving a PhD from the University of Southern California in 2019, Andrey joined the lab as postdoctoral scholar, and works at the intersection of biology, computational science, and software and hardware design. Andrey enjoys working with students and training scientists in microscopy and image analysis. More information can be found at https://aandreev.net.
Ulrich Herget, Postdoctoral Fellow
Ulrich Herget majored in neurobiology at the LMU Munich and then joined Soojin Ryu's group at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, where he worked on the stress regulation system of larval zebrafish. The German Society for Endocrinology awarded him their dissertation award for his work at the MPI. Switching from stress to sleep, he is investigating sleep/wake-regulating circuits and their interactions in the Prober lab with a Research Fellowship of the German Research Foundation. He is also a ballroom dancer and hard-core Trekkie.
Steve Tran, Postdoctoral Fellow
Steve Tran received his H.BSc. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. His graduate studies in Robert Gerlai's lab, which were supported by an Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship, examined the role of the dopaminergic system in regulating alcohol-induced behavioral effects in zebrafish. In the Prober lab, Steve is using CRISPR-Cas9 to screen for novel genes that regulate sleep, and his work is supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Fellowship. When not in the lab, Steve enjoys bouldering and playing volleyball. He has also been quite successful in persuading his lab mates to binge-watch Netflix.
Jin Xu, Postdoctoral Fellow
Jin Xu received his B.S. in Biotechnology from Sichuan University in China. He then joined Chong Shin’s lab at Georgia Institute of Technology, where he studied mechanisms that underlie pancreatic progenitor cell fate specification and insulin cell regeneration. In the Prober lab Jin is investigating the functions of novel candidate autism-risk genes. When not staring at his lonely fish, Jin spends a decent amount of time on food and sleep. If there’s time left, he does kickboxing to blow off steam, goes to live theaters to get inspired, and paints when feeling moody.
Rongwei Zhang, Postdoctoral Fellow
Rongwei Zhang received his B.S. from Fudan University in Shanghai, China. For his doctoral research, he joined Jiulin Du's lab at the Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, where he worked on functional development of retinal circuits in larval zebrafish. In the Prober lab, Rongwei is using electrophysiology and imaging to study zebrafish innate behaviors, including sleep and respiration. When not in the lab, Rongwei spends most of his time with his kids and explores their astonishing development.
Sophie Miller, Chemical Engineering Graduate Student
Sophie Miller received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and her MPhil in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology from the University of Cambridge as a Churchill Scholar. As a chemical engineering Ph.D. student co-advised by David Tirrell and David Prober, Sophie is improving and applying bioorthogonal noncanonical amino acid tagging (BONCAT) methods to enable time-resolved and cell-type specific analyses of protein synthesis in the zebrafish brain. She plans to use these techniques to investigate protein expression during sleep and wake, as well as to elucidate the mechanisms of action of rapid-acting antidepressants. When she’s not geeking out about proteins and the brain, Sophie can be found rowing in Long Beach, training at the gym, playing the saxophone, perfecting her coffee brewing, and exploring the LA food scene. Sophie is also passionate about teaching and has enjoyed TAing and tutoring throughout her academic career.
Altyn Rymbek, Neurobiology Graduate Student
Altyn Rymbek is a Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (BIF) Ph.D. fellow in the Prober Lab. She was born and raised in Kazakhstan where she received her B.Sc. Degree in Computer Science from Nazarbayev University. She also studied Biology and Neuroscience throughout her undergraduate studies with a passion for combining knowledge across disciplines to study the nervous system. In the Prober lab, Altyn studies how neuromodulators and neuropeptides regulate sleep in larval zebrafish. Her project involves whole-brain imaging of neuromodulator and neuropeptide dynamics using light-sheet microscopy, calcium imaging, and analysis of these dynamic whole-brain datasets. When not in the lab, Altyn plays violin, goes to the gym and spoils her two cats, Ella and Max. She trained Ella to walk on a harness every morning.
Desiderio Ascencio, Computation and Neural Systems Graduate Student
Desiderio Ascencio received his B.S. in Cognitive Science with a concentration in artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction, and a minor in Computer Science, from the University of California Santa Cruz (go slugs!). He is interested in modeling neural network processes of natural phenomena to better understand information flow through neurons. Desi’s undergraduate studies in James Ackman’s lab involved studying developmental functional neural activity using wide-field calcium imaging. Now, he is a CNS PhD student co-advised by Matt Thomson and David Prober, where he is utilizing whole-brain calcium imaging and computational tools to generate and test models of functional neural activity in the context of sleep. When he isn’t looking at brains, Desi enjoys playing and watching soccer, going to Afters ice cream, and talking about his hometown Palmdale.
Jasmine Emtage, Biology Graduate Student
Jasmine Emtage received her B.S. in neuroscience from UCLA. As a biology Ph.D. student in the Prober lab she is investigating the role of novel sleep regulating genes, and is also developing a method for trans-synaptic labeling and regulation of gene expression. When she’s not in lab you can find her taking long walks around Caltech’s small campus, swimming, or baking.
Marina Lecoeuche, Biology Graduate Student
Marina Lecoeuche got her B.S. degree in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied evolutionary biology, paleoanthropology, and vertebrate biomechanics. In the Prober lab, she’s interested in studying arousal threshold in larval zebrafish using whole brain imaging. When she’s not in the lab, Marina enjoys surfing, rock climbing, birding, and collecting houseplants at a dangerously unsustainable rate.
Yun Chiu, Neurobiology Graduate Student
Yun Chiu's career goal is to become a systems neuroscientist to decipher the neural mechanisms of higher-order cognitive functions and behaviors. Yun was born and raised in Taiwan and received her B.S. in Life Sciences at National Yang-Ming University, where she studied autism related behaviors in mouse models. She then worked as a research technician in Hillel Adesnik's lab at UC Berkeley studying V1 cortex using 2-photon microscopy. Now in the Prober Lab, she is planning to study how specific neuropeptides and neural circuits orchestrate sleep and arousal using light-sheet microscopy and various perturbation techniques. Besides research, she enjoys lifting, photography, and trying out new food and boba spots on the weekends.
Olivia Eliopoulos, Biology Graduate Student
Olivia Eliopoulos received her B.A. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Barnard College. Olivia’s undergraduate research in Alison Pischedda’s lab focused on the evolutionary and genetic causes of mating behavior in Drosophila. As a biology Ph.D. student in the Prober lab, she’s interested in investigating the epidermal growth factor receptor signaling pathway’s role in sleep. You can find her listening to music at the ceramics studio sculpting and glazing new pieces when not amongst the fish in the lab.
Tasha Cammidge, Research Technician
Tasha Cammidge joined the Prober lab in 2017, and she loves learning new techniques and helping postdocs and students with their research. Before joining Prober lab, Tasha completed two B.Sc. degrees, one in archaeology and another in zoology, as well as a M.Sc. in evolution and ecology from the University of Calgary. While she misses Tim Hortons coffee, she loves living in California, is a voracious reader, and enjoys knitting, camping, and hiking.
Brianna Garcia, Research Technician
Brianna Garcia received her B.S. in Biology from the University of San Francisco. Her first research experience was as a study coordinator at the SFVA studying addiction in veterans in the Herbst Lab. She then switched to neuroscience as a Simons Foundation Fellow in Tom Clandinin’s lab at Stanford, where she studied innate behavior in larval Drosophila. Using optogenetics she studied the function of mechanosensory neurons that gave rise to foraging behavior. With the experience she gains in the Prober Lab she plans to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience, focusing on social behavior. When she’s not on the 57 or the 210, she loves to be outdoors, read, and get better at rock climbing. Her dream is to visit all the National Parks in the U.S., but she’ll settle for visiting those on the West Coast for now.
Cristina Gonzalez, Research Technician
Cristina Gonzalez received her B.S. in Genetics and Genomics from the University of California, Davis. While at UC Davis, Cristina joined the Genomic Variation Laboratory where she researched the capabilities and limitations of environmental DNA detections for monitoring fish biodiversity in Northern California. Outside of the lab, Cristina enjoys reading, trying new coffee shops, and going to concerts as often as she can.
Alex Mack, Fish Facility Manager
Alex Mack manages the Prober lab fish facility. Alex received his B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles. He has over 10 years of experience in fish husbandry, working in public aquariums around southern California. Prior to joining the Prober Lab, Alex was a Quarantine Aquarist at the California Science Center. Alex loves guinea pigs, SCUBA diving and watching soccer
Axel Dominguez, Fish Facility Technician
Axel Dominguez is a technician in the Prober lab fish facility.
Barbara Orozco, Fish Facility Technician
Barbara Orozco is a technician in the Prober lab fish facility. She received her B.S. degree in marine biology from Humboldt State University. She is currently a master's student at Cal State Fullerton, studying rocky intertidal ecology, focusing on relationships between algae and marine invertebrates. When not frolicking through tidepools, she loves hiking, rock-climbing, cuddling with her cat, and drinking milk tea with boba. Her favorite parts of being in the Prober lab are learning about how aquatic life support systems work and the different types of research that the students and postdocs are doing.
Caressa Wong, Fish Facility Technician
Caressa Wong is a technician in the Prober lab fish facility. She is currently an undergraduate student working on a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Outside of the Prober lab, Caressa works in the field studying several bird populations: the Western Snowy Plover, Least Tern, and White-throated Swift. In her spare time she can be found listening to music non-stop and planning remote road trips.
Sridhara Chakravarthy: Senior Principal Investigator, Syngene International Limited
Audrey Chen: Assistant Professor of Teaching, UC Irvine
Daniel Lee: Program Scientist, Schmidt Futures
Eric Mosser: Lecturer, University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Chanpreet Singh: Applications Scientist, Molecular Instruments
Suna Li: graduate student at University of Pennsylvania