Research Scientist

Dr. Amanda Jacob

Dr. Amanda Jacob

(she, her)
Email   LinkedIn  

Ph.D. from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.S. in Chemistry; Georgia Institute of Technology
B.S. in Physics; Georgia Institute of Technology


Research Interests

Dr. Amanda Jacob has broad research background ranging from cellular to systems neuroscience. Her Ph.D. dissertation work used electron microscopy to understand structural synaptic plasticity, the mechanism used to store and maintain information within individual synapses that is often thought to be the cellular basis of learning and memory. After her graduate studies, she joined Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience as a research scientist where she studied the organization of GABAergic circuitry in the primary visual cortex and managed histological processing of tissue for labs throughout the institute. In addition to her work in the lab, Amanda is a Girl Scout leader, an amateur musician, and is passionate about using art to engage with and to educate the public about scientific topics. Amanda has participated in both the “Hooked” and “Justice” exhibits in the Science Gallery, and has an upcoming exhibit “Resilient Earth.” She has spoken at the Atlanta Science Festival and has organized art and science hybrid events throughout Georgia.


Key Papers

Chung et al 2023 figure 1
Myomatrix arrays for high-definition muscle recording
Chung B, Zia M, Thomas KA, Michaels JA, Jacob A, Pack A, Williams MJ, Nagapudi K, Teng LH, Arrambide E, Ouellette L, Oey N, Gibbs R, Anschutz P, Lu J, Wu Y, Kashefi M, Oya T, Kersten R, Mosberger AC, O'Connell S, Wang R, Marques H, Mendes AR, Lenschow C,. ELife 12:RP88551 (2023) [PDF] [DOI]
McGregor et al 2022 Fig 1
Shared mechanisms of auditory and non-auditory vocal learning in the songbird brain
McGregor JN, Grassler AL, Jaffe PI, Jacob AL, Brainard MS, Sober SJ. eLife 11:e75691 (2022) [PDF] [DOI]
Lu et al 2022 Fig 2
High-performance Flexible Microelectrode Array with PEDOT:PSS Coated 3D Micro-cones for Electromyographic Recording
Lu J, Zia M, Williams MJ, Jacob AL, Chung B, Sober SJ, Bakir MS. Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc 2022:5111-5114 (2022) [PDF] [DOI]
Saravanan et al 2019
Dopamine Depletion Affects Vocal Acoustics and Disrupts Sensorimotor Adaptation in Songbird
Saravanan V, Hoffmann LA, Jacob AL, Berman GJ, Sober SJ. eNeuro Jun 12;6(3) (2019) [PDF]

Research Specialist

Dr. Sumeyra Kilic

Dr. Sumeyra Kilic

(she, her)
Email  

M.D. from Georgetown American University School of Medicine


Research Interests

Sumeyra Kilic is currently working on birds and their beak movements. She also maintains the laboratory’s bird colony, equipment, and records. Sumeyra loves spending time with her sisters. She also enjoys reading and traveling whenever she has the opportunity.



Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr. Keshav Ramachandra

Dr. Keshav Ramachandra

(he, him)
Email   LinkedIn  

Ph.D. from West Virginia University


Research Interests

Keshav Ramachandra is interested how the nervous system builds model representation of the environment based on processing of external cues and past experience to generate appropriate behavior and how these models are updated when there is a mismatch between expectation and reality to adapt behavior. Prior to joining the lab Keshav did his Ph.D., in the group of Dr. Gary Marsat at West Virginia University working with weakly electric fish where he looked at how the electrosensory system encodes spatially realistic signals.



Dr. César Vargas

Dr. César Vargas

(he, him)
LinkedIn  

Postdoctoral Fellow; Emory University
Ph.D. in Neuroscience; The Rockefeller University
B.A. in Neuroscience; Vanderbilt University


Research Interests

César Vargas’ research interest focus on how behaviors are flexibly shaped and controlled by the nervous system. I am particularly interested in pursuing these questions from ethological and evolutionary perspectives. I am also passionate about DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) efforts to increase access and participation in science from groups historically marginalized in academia. Outside the lab I’m into coffee, finding new restaurants, rock climbing, and taking care of various pets.



Graduate Students

Ethan Corey

Ethan Corey

(he, him)
Email   LinkedIn  

Ph.D. Student; Biomedical Engineering at Emory and Georgia Tech
Co-Advised: Dr. Lena Ting and Dr. Samuel Sober
Scholar in the Computational Neuroengineering Training Program (CNTP)
B.S. in Biomedical Engineering in Medical imaging and Signal processing; Florida State University


Research Interests

Ethan Corey is a Ph. D. student co-advised by Dr. Samuel Sober and Dr. Lena Ting. Ethan is working to implement Myomatrix arrays in a human population. The goal is to have a better understanding of motor unit recruitment during different tasks or stimulations for potential use in assistive technology. As a CNTP Scholar Ethan works on the Diversity, Outreach, and Inclusion committee and bringing Neuroscience activities and understanding to the broader Atlanta community. Ethan’s personal interests include martial arts, robotics, and prosthetics.



Abi Grassler

Abi Grassler

(she, her)
Email   LinkedIn  

Ph.D. Candidate; Emory University Neuroscience Program
B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology; Emory University
B.A. in Dance and Movement Studies; Emory University


Research Interests

Abi has been a member of the Sober Lab since 2017. Before joining the graduate neuroscience program in 2022, Abi worked alongside graduate student James McGregor to study sensorimotor learning and error correction. Currently, Abi’s research investigates patterns of activity in multifunctional muscles during the execution of functionally distinct behaviors. Abi also explores motor learning and performance outside of the lab: she is a contemporary dancer and a dance teacher.


Key Papers

McGregor et al 2022 Fig 1
Shared mechanisms of auditory and non-auditory vocal learning in the songbird brain
McGregor JN, Grassler AL, Jaffe PI, Jacob AL, Brainard MS, Sober SJ. eLife 11:e75691 (2022) [PDF] [DOI]

Abhinav Joshi

Abhinav Joshi

(he, him)
Email   LinkedIn  

M.S. Student; Biomedical Engineering Program at Georgia Institute of Technology
B.S. from University of Georgia


Research Interests

Abhinav is a Southern boy born and raised in Georgia. His research studies muscle fiber-type differences in various animal models as well as muscle differences due to autism. Abhinav aspires to become a physician scientist after graduation. His vision is to continue to explore vocal fold reinnervation and with the goal of finding a solution that can broadly apply to other nerve injuries.



Will McCallum

Will McCallum

(he, him)
Email   LinkedIn  

Ph.D. Student; Emory University Neuroscience Program
Co-Advised: Dr. Francisco J. Alvarez, Emory Cell Biology Dept. and Dr. Samuel Sober, Emory Biology Department
B.S. in Biology; University of Oregon


Research Interests

Will is originally from San Anselmo, California, and received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Oregon, where he worked with Dr. Mike Wehr on circuits auditory perception. Will then studied the neuroanatomy of pain perception and opioid function under Dr. Grégory Scherrer at both Stanford and UNC, Chapel Hill. Will is currently studying how inhibitory interneurons of the spinal cord contribute to motor unit coordination, motor control, and the development of overground walking in mice. Sko Ducks!



Sean O’Connell

Sean O’Connell


Email   LinkedIn  

Ph.D. Candidate; Biomedical Engineering program at Emory and Georgia Tech
M.S. in Biomedical Engineering; Emory and Georgia Tech
B.S. in Biomedical Engineering; Texas A&M University


Research Interests

Sean began his time in the Sober Lab in 2017 as a Research Specialist, building a hardware system and novel algorithm for quantification of calcium-related light signals in populations of neurons. After that two-year project, he was accepted into the BME Ph.D. program at Emory and GT, where he developed several hardware systems for quantifying a wide variety of rat behaviors, like forelimb reaching and rotation, and treadmill locomotion. He also developed several Python and MATLAB libraries for acquiring and analyzing these signals to better understand the coordination of populations of motor units within single muscles across behaviors. Finally, his Ph.D. work has been devoted to developing an improved motor unit spike sorter, EMUsort. In his free time, he enjoys reading books, spending time in nature, and interesting conversations.


Key Papers

Chung et al 2023 figure 1
Myomatrix arrays for high-definition muscle recording
Chung B, Zia M, Thomas KA, Michaels JA, Jacob A, Pack A, Williams MJ, Nagapudi K, Teng LH, Arrambide E, Ouellette L, Oey N, Gibbs R, Anschutz P, Lu J, Wu Y, Kashefi M, Oya T, Kersten R, Mosberger AC, O'Connell S, Wang R, Marques H, Mendes AR, Lenschow C,. ELife 12:RP88551 (2023) [PDF] [DOI]

Leila Pascual

Leila Pascual

(she, her)
Email  

Ph.D. Candidate, bird whisperer; Emory University Neuroscience Program
B.S. in Neuroscience; Brandeis University
B.S. in Biology; Brandeis University


Research Interests

Leila is curious about why animals (humans included) behave the way they do. In the lab, she records brain activity from juvenile songbirds to understand how activity patterns become organized to enable song learning. Her meager salary is squandered on perfectly crafted cappuccinos at her favorite coffee shops, magazine subscriptions for reading up on society and culture, tuning up her vintage bicycle, and letting off steam with kickboxing.

Leila was chosen for the prestigious HHMI Gilliam Fellowship in 2022.



Kyle Thomas

Kyle Thomas

(he, him)
Email   LinkedIn  

Ph.D. Candidate; Biomedical Engineering program at Emory and Georgia Tech
B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and Systems Engineering; Washington University in St. Louis


Research Interests

Kyle Thomas’ research focuses on how motor units in the mouse forelimb coordinate to produce locomotion. He believes that science is a team effort, and is passionate about open-science collaboration to drive innovative technology. Outside of lab, Kyle enjoys creating/solving puzzles of all kinds, playing soccer, and making strides in locomotion-themed puns.

Kyle was awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2020.


Key Papers

Chung et al 2023 figure 1
Myomatrix arrays for high-definition muscle recording
Chung B, Zia M, Thomas KA, Michaels JA, Jacob A, Pack A, Williams MJ, Nagapudi K, Teng LH, Arrambide E, Ouellette L, Oey N, Gibbs R, Anschutz P, Lu J, Wu Y, Kashefi M, Oya T, Kersten R, Mosberger AC, O'Connell S, Wang R, Marques H, Mendes AR, Lenschow C,. ELife 12:RP88551 (2023) [PDF] [DOI]

Kofi Vordzorgbe

Kofi Vordzorgbe

(he, him)
Email   LinkedIn  

M.D.- Ph.D. candidate; Emory University School of Medicine
M.S. in Biomedical Sciences; Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
B.A. in Music Composition; Morehouse College


Research Interests

Kofi’s research interests lie broadly in understanding how neurons work together in a network to control behavior and cognition. He pursues that interest by studying the mechanisms of neural control of motor behavior in songbirds. Songbirds provide a great model for understanding neural control of a skilled behavior because they have a dedicated neural circuitry that is designed and equipped to learn songs from a tutor, refine it based on environmental stimuli, and produce fairly stable renditions of these motifs in various naturalistic contexts. Kofi currently studies the role of HVC, a pre-motor nucleus that plays a role in encoding syllable identity and timing; to answer the question of how internal dynamics of this nucleus controls its output at various points in song where the bird transitions between different sequences.



Matt Williams

Matt Williams

(he, him)
Email   LinkedIn  

Ph.D. Candidate; Biomedical Engineering, Emory University and Georgia Tech
B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology


Research Interests

Matt Williams’ research is focussed on designing cutting-edge microelectrode arrays (MEA’s) for minimally-invasive detection and analysis of motor-unit action potentials, the smallest unit of neuromuscular control. Matt uses these devices to understand the neural coding underlying skilled movements by implementing them in a skilled forelimb task in awake, (mostly) behaving mice.


Key Papers

Chung et al 2023 figure 1
Myomatrix arrays for high-definition muscle recording
Chung B, Zia M, Thomas KA, Michaels JA, Jacob A, Pack A, Williams MJ, Nagapudi K, Teng LH, Arrambide E, Ouellette L, Oey N, Gibbs R, Anschutz P, Lu J, Wu Y, Kashefi M, Oya T, Kersten R, Mosberger AC, O'Connell S, Wang R, Marques H, Mendes AR, Lenschow C,. ELife 12:RP88551 (2023) [PDF] [DOI]
Lu et al 2022 Fig 2
High-performance Flexible Microelectrode Array with PEDOT:PSS Coated 3D Micro-cones for Electromyographic Recording
Lu J, Zia M, Williams MJ, Jacob AL, Chung B, Sober SJ, Bakir MS. Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc 2022:5111-5114 (2022) [PDF] [DOI]

Undergraduate Students

Javonna Bradford

Javonna Bradford


Major in Biology; Spelman College
SURFIn Fellow



Rhuna Gibbs

Rhuna Gibbs

(she, her)
Email   LinkedIn  

Major in Biology; Emory University
SURFin Fellow



Sydney Mercurio

Sydney Mercurio


Major in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology; Emory University



Felipe Oliveira

Felipe Oliveira


Email   LinkedIn  

Major in Neuroscience and Minor in Computer Science and Applied Languages; Georgia Institute of Technology



Emmy Shi

Emmy Shi


Major in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology; Emory University



Anna Sotirescu

Anna Sotirescu


Major in Biology; Emory University



Aanya Vusirikala

Aanya Vusirikala

(she, her)
Email   LinkedIn  

Major in Quantitative Social Sciences; Emory University
Concentration in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology