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Current Members of the Francis Lab

mike francis

Michael Francis, PhD - Principal Investigator

Mike Francis received his B.A. (1992) in psychobiology from the University of Virginia. He received a predoctoral National Research Service Award from NIMH to pursue his Ph.D. (1998) in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Florida. He received a postdoctoral National Research Service Award from NIDA to pursue postdoctoral training in the Department of Molecular Medicine at Cornell University. He pursued additional postdoctoral training at the University of Utah and joined the faculty at the University of Utah as a Research Assistant Professor in 2001. Mike started his lab at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in January 2007.


Kellianne Alexander - Graduate Student

Kellianne is a Neuroscience graduate student from Weymouth, Massachusetts. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2015. She joined the Francis lab in 2015 as a PGSP student and continued on in the lab after being accepted into the GSBS program in 2016. Her work focuses on synaptic remodeling of the C. elegans motor circuit and the molecular mechanisms that regulate synaptic refinement.


Shankar Ramachandran, PhD - Post-Doctoral Associate 

Shankar is a postdoctoral associate, who joined the lab in 2016. He received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he characterized calcium channels at presynaptic terminals of lamprey reticulospinal axons using calcium imaging and electrophysiology. He is currently investigating molecular mechanisms underlying synaptic connectivity and plasticity in the C. elegans motor circuit using genetic tools, optogenetics and calcium imaging.



Kasturi Biswas - Graduate Student

Kasturi  is a Neuroscience graduate student from Kolkata, India. She earned her B.Sc. with a major in microbiology from St. Xavier’s College and completed her neuroscience from National Brain Research Centre in 2018. She joined the Francis lab in 2019 and is interested in molecular basis of memory-formation. Kasturi is currently studying proteins important for synaptic remodelling and circuit formation. Apart from her lab-work, she enjoys cooking, painting and reading non-fiction novels, especially on brain-science and consciousness.


Samuel Liu - Graduate Student

Sam is a Neuroscience graduate student from Las Vegas, Nevada.  He earned his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Massachusetts Amerhest in 2018. He joined the Francis lab in 2020, as part of the GSBS program. His interest lie in the genetic regulatory mechanisms governing synapse formation/composition, and using various optic and informatic tools to identiy components that make up these mechanisms. Apart from his lab-work, he enjoys cooking and watching baseball.

Julia Russell - Research Associate

Julia joined the lab as a research associate in 2021. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Genetics from the University of New Hampshire. Her work focuses on the molecular biology used to carry out experiments on C. elegans. Apart from her lab work, Julia enjoys baking, shopping, and going on walks.



Hillary Nna - PREP Scholar

Hillary has had a passionate interest in science since she was young. Hillary graduated from Framingham State University in May 2022 with a BS in Biology. She has been an intern in the Francis lab since March 2022 and transitioned into the PREP Scholar position in the Francis lab.