Harris Lab

In Pursuit of Synapse Structure and Function...

The Laboratory of Synapse Structure and Function investigates the structural basis of learning and memory, synapse development, and the ultrastructure of synaptic plasticity using in vivo and in vitro preparations, hippocampal slice physiology, serial section transmission electron microscopy, and 3D reconstruction.

Current Lab Members at UT Austin

P.I.: Kristen M. Harris, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Neuroscience
Center for Learning and Memory
Institute for Neuroscience
The University of Texas at Austin


Kristen has served on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School, Boston University, and the Medical College of Georgia. She has been a Professor at UT Austin since 2006. More info and CV

John Mendenhall, MA 
Research Scientist


John joined Kristen Harris's new lab at UT in 2006. His main responsibilities in the lab are tissue preparations, multi-dimensional imaging, visualization, and analysis. 

Masaaki (Masa) Kuwajima, Ph.D.
Research Scientist


Masa uses electron microscopy methods to investigate how nanoscale structures of brain cells underlie their functions like learning and how they change during aging. He also serves as a mentor to many students in the lab (and beyond) and is a professional photographer. More info

Lyndsey Kirk, Ph.D.
Research Associate


Lyndsey is primarily interested in how synapses change with cognitive decline in aging. She uses a combination of animal behavior, genetics, physiology, and 3DEM to study the ultrastructural changes of synapses, astroglia, and subcellular organelles that occur and may contribute to loss of cognitive ability. 


Olga Ostrovskaya, Ph.D.
Research Scientist

Olga's specialty is in electrophysiology. Her current focus is the dynamics of neuronal ultrastructure in the context of learning and memory across different developmental stages.
Andrea Nam
Andrea Nam
Graduate Student

Patrick Parker
Research Assistant / Course Specialist


Patrick assists in the 3D reconstruction of dendrites, with a focus on quantifying synapses and creating lab protocols to teach best uses of Reconstruct. He acts as the SynapseWeb administrator and Course Specialist for Prof. Harris's class.


Dusten Hubbard
Research Assistant


Dusten aids in the 3D reconstruction and quantification of dendrites, axons, and other neuropil objects. His focuses are data collection, analysis, and developmental testing of new computational tools used in the lab.

Weiling Yin

Weiling Yin, PhD

Research Engineering/Scientist Professional

Ashley Alario

Ashley Alario

Research Engineering/Scientist Assistant

Vijay Venu Thiyagarajan

Vijay Venu Thiyagarajan

Research Engineering/Scientist Assistant

Michael Chirillo

Michael Chirillo, MD, PhD

Research Engineering/Scientist Assistant

Julian Falco

Julian Falco

Research Engineering/Scientist Assistant

Tom Middendorf

Tom Middendorf

Research Engineering/Scientist Assistant


Anna-Maria E. Escherich, MS, PMP
Project Manager/Lab Manager

Anna-Maria is actively involved with the oversight of the NeuroNex NSF grant, as well as other NIH-awarded grants in the Harris Lab.  In addition, Anna-Maria is involved in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the lab.



Undergraduate Researchers:

  • Sonia Singh
  • Anna Xaymongkhol
  • Isha Jha
  • Adrienne Li
  • Dhivya Venkatraghavan
  • Ayden Cavill
  • William Peschel
  • Ella Prasad
  • Jad Refaei
  • Nick Calzada
  • Megan George
  • Anton Forsman
  • Ashley Dickens
  • Nisha Vishag

Former Lab Members

Research Scientists:

  • Sergei Kirov, Ph.D.
  • John C. Fiala, Ph.D.
  • Bitao Shi, M.D.
  • Jennifer Bourne, Ph.D.
  • Larry Lindsey, M.S.
  • Guan Cao, Ph.D.
  • Edwin Vargas-Garzon, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellows:

  • Gordon M.G. Shepherd, M.D., Ph.D.
  • David Selig, M.D.
  • Patricia Suppes, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Frances Jensen, M.D.
  • Jared Bowden, Ph.D.
  • Beth Bell, Ph.D.
  • Deborah Watson, Ph.D.
  • Cailey Bromer, Ph.D.
  • Katy Pilarzyk Alvarado, Ph.D.


  • Libby Perry
  • Robert Smith
  • Jamie Hurlburt, DO
  • Anusha Mishra
  • Marcia Feinberg, M.S.
  • Lara Petrak
  • Alex Goddard
  • Karen M. Szumowski
  • Clayton Smith

Graduate Students:

  • Marc Seid, Ph.D.
  • Linnaea Ostroff, Ph.D.
  • Mark Witcher
  • William Risher
  • Jennifer Salgado
  • Peter Sultan, M.D.
  • Paul S. Jackson, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Ann Clemens, Ph.D.
  • Andrea Haessly, Ph.D.
  • Michael Chirillo, Ph.D.
  • Seth Weisberg, Ph.D.
  • Heather Smith, Ph.D.

Undergraduate Students and Postbacs:

  • Rachel Ventura
  • James Cooney
  • Priya George
  • Sean Behounek
  • Amy Pohodich
  • Junho Ahn
  • Katherine Williams
  • Michael Musslewhite
  • Ryan Ellis
  • Mikayla Waters
  • Alyssa Herbort
  • Kate Dembny
  • Paola Gonzalez
  • Jordan Mackey
  • Sindy Ventura
  • Marshall Drake
  • Masha Aseeva
  • Katie Hedgpeth
  • Alexis Pederson
  • Matthew Hooper
  • Aaron Luna
  • Kyle Zatyko
  • Corey Haines
  • Mireya Mota
  • Tommy Liu
  • Vivek Mathesh
  • Mahija Ginjupalli
  • Soummitra Anand
  • Kaelin Rubenzer
  • Connor McKee
  • Elyse Haney
  • Priya Mahableshwarkar
  • Sahana Datta
  • Fernanda Pena Lozano
  • Annette Eimer
  • Colin Garner
  • Dakota Hanka

Current Collaborators

  • Wickcliffe C. Abraham, Ph.D.
  • Tom Bartol, Ph.D.
  • James Carson, Ph.D.  
  • Mary Kennedy, Ph.D.           
  • Matthew Kennedy, Ph.D.
  • Linnaea Ostroff, Ph.D.
  • John Reynolds, Ph.D.
  • Terrence J. Sejnowski, Ph.D.           
  • Josef Spacek, MUDr, DrSc         
  • Art Wetzel, Ph.D.
  • Karen Zito, Ph.D.

Past Collaborators

  • Daniel Johnston, Ph.D.               
  • Chandrajit Bajaj, Ph.D. 
  • Mike Ehlers, M.D., Ph.D.               
  • Mitya Chklovskii, Ph.D. 
  • Karin Sorra, Ph.D. 
  • Matthew A. Xu-Friedman, Ph.D.
  • Wade G. Regehr, Ph.D.
  • German Barrionuevo, M.D.
  • David B.T. McMahon, Ph.D.
  • Howard Eichenbaum, Ph.D.
  • Viktor Popov, Ph.D.
  • Yannan Ouyang, Ph.D.
  • David Kantor, Ph.D.
  • Erin M. Schuman, Ph.D.
  • Steven Finkbeiner, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Sohail F. Tavazoie, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Anna Maloratsky, M.D.
  • Kori M. Jacobs, Ph.D.
  • Michael E. Greenberg, Ph.D.
  • Ingrid Carlbom, M.S., Ph.D.
  • Demetri Terzopoulos, Ph.D.
  • James F.A. Traniello, Ph.D.
  • Ben Kater, Ph.D.
  • John Lisman, Ph.D.