News & Impact

You are here

Summer Student Scholars Class of 2018

Hope is Fueled by Tomorrow’s Future Talent


Training the next generation of young talented scientists is a high priority at the Burke Neurological Institute. More people than ever are living with chronic neurological issues caused by strokes, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, and diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Individuals living with neurological conditions need hope and innovation. We know that hope is fueled by tomorrow’s future talent, that’s why we nurture young promising students with bright futures in the field of neuroscience.

Each summer for 10-weeks, from June to August, the Burke Neurological Institute mentors the next generation of young talented scientists through the Summer Student Research Program, co-directed by Dianna E. Willis, Ph.D. and John Cave, Ph.D. Sixteen competitively selected college and high school students engaged in cutting-edge basic, translational and clinical neuroscience research investigations in faculty led laboratories across the Institute.

To conclude the summer program, the Class of 2018 presented innovative research results at the annual Summer Student Poster Session held Friday, August 10, 2018. Their achievements and discoveries fulfilled during the summer program were acknowledged by peers, faculty, board members, alumni, family, friends, and members and community of the Institute in attendance.

Amith Punyala, First Place Recipient

Poster presentations were judged on research design, creativity and comprehension, and visual presentation by panel of instructors and postdoctoral researchers. With close results, judges awarded first place to Amith Punyala, a rising senior at Cornell University. Mentored by Ishraq Alim, Ph.D. and Raj Ratan, M.D., Ph.D., Punyala’s project focused on “Selenium Abrogates CSPG- and Sem3A-Mediated Inhibition of Neurite Extension to Enhance Axonal Regeneration”. Meenu Johnkutty, a rising sophomore at Stony Brook University, mentored by Ajay Pal, Ph.D. and Jason Carmel, M.D., Ph.D. received second place for her project on paired motor cortex and epidural spinal stimulation on spinal cord injured rodent models. Third place was granted to Anana Chatterjee, a rising senior at White Plains High School, mentored by Saravanan Karuppagounder, Ph.D. and Rajiv R. Ratan, M.D., Ph.D. on the therapeutic effects of retinoids in ferroptotic cell death. The Institute congratulates Amith Punyala, Meenu Johnkutty, Anana Chatterjee on their awards and saults the Class of 2018 on their outstanding summer achievements and bright futures.

Summer Science Scholars - Class of 2018 

Amanda Bache
Poster Title: Comparative Analysis of Zeb2os and ZEB2 in Brain and Spinal Cord Astrocytes
Mentors: Ana Vivinetto, Ph.D., John Cave, Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: The University at Buffalo, Rising Junior

Emma Burns
Poster Title: Optimizing Cryoculture Technique to Generate Dystrophic Endings and Growth Cones for Analysis
Mentors: Carolin Ruven, Ph.D., Paola Bianchimano, Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Duke University, Rising Junior

Bissem Singh Gill
Poster Title: An Automated Paw Preference Detection System for High Throughput Behavioral Analysis
Mentors: Sydney Agger, Edmund R. Hollis II, Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rising Junior

Meenu Johnkutty
Poster Title: The Effects of Paired Motor Cortex and Epidural Spinal Stimulation on H-Reflex and Secondary Damage in Spinal Cord Injured Rats
Mentors: Ajay Pal, Ph.D., Jason Carmel, M.D., Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Stony Brook University; Rising Sophomore

Joseph Lee
Poster Title: Effect of CD36 Knockout on Post-Stroke Behavioral Outcomes
Mentors: Mustafa Balkaya, Ph.D., Sunghee Cho, Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: University of Notre Dame, Rising Sophomore

Amith Punyala
Poster Title: Selenium Abrogates CSPG- and Sem3A-Mediated Inhibition of Neurite Extension to Enhance Axonal Regeneration
Mentors: Ishraq Alim, Ph.D., Rajiv R. Ratan, M.D., Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Cornell University, Rising Senior

Marwa Soliman
Poster Title: Behavioral Feedback System for Optogenetic Control Over Mouse Forelimb Function
Mentors: Mohammed Hisham, Ph.D., Edmund R. Hollis II, Ph.D., Yue Li, Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Manhattanville College, Rising Junior

Regan Steed
Poster Title: nd Staffing Ratio Compar Device Assisted Therapy
Mentors: Tomoko Kitago, M.D., Marissa Wuennemann, Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Columbia University, Rising Junior

Brittany Zaita
Poster Title: The Effect of Corticospinal Tract Connectivity on Hand Function in Children with Unilateral Cerebral Palsy
Mentors: Claudio Ferre, Ph.D., Kathleen M. Friel, Ph.D., Dr. Maxime Robert, Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Fordham University, Rising Senior 

Summer Science Participants - Class of 2018 

Michael Ainsworth
Poster Title: The Effects of 4-AP on Motor Learning in Uninjured Rats
Mentors: Anil Sindhurakar, Ph.D., Jason Carmel, M.D., Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Johns Hopkins University, Rising Junior

Ananya Chatterjee
Poster Title: Therapeutic Effects of Retinoids in Ferroptotic Cell Death
Mentors: Saravanan Karuppagounder, Ph.D. , Rajiv R. Ratan, M.D., Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: White Plains High School, Rising Senior

Wali Hairan
Poster Title: Automated Tissue Morphing: Brain and Spinal Cord Image Registration for Histology
Mentors: Shiva Rathnadurai-Giridharan Ph.D., Jason Carmel, M.D., Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Connecticut College, Rising Senior 

Madeleine Lopane
Poster Title: Examining Crossed Axons Above the Lesion in Spinal Cord Injuries
Mentors: Sophia Lall B.A., Jason Carmel M.D., Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Somers High School, Rising Senior

Akaash Saraf
Poster Title: Nrf2 Activation Provides Neuroprotection in the in Vitro Model of Hemorrhagic Stroke
Mentors: Amit Kumar, Ph.D., Rajiv R. Ratan, M.D., Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Edgemont High School, Rising Senior

Mia Lee Veefkind
Poster Title: FDA-Approved Edaravone Protects Against Ferroptotic Cell Death
Mentors: Nandini Kundu, Ph.D., Rajiv R. Ratan, M.D., Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Hastings High School, Rising Junior

Audrey Zhong
Poster Title: Death of TH+ Dopaminergic Neurons in Mouse, Temporal Progression of Secondary Degeneration after Chronic Stroke
Mentors: Keun-Woo Park, Ph.D., Sunghee Cho, Ph.D.
Academic Institution/Year: Jericho Senior High School, Rising Senior

Hope Starts with You

Burke Neurological Institute is a research institute dedicated to finding cures for chronic neurological disabilities. We transform groundbreaking research into clinical treatments so that people can see, talk, and walk again. We need you with us on this journey to renew hope. Your contribution has an important role to play.