Our Team

Sage Aronson
Founder & President

Sage earned his PhD from the Neurosciences Graduate Program at University of California, San Diego in the lab of Dr. Roberto Malinow. In his thesis, he explored the role of neuronal transmission into and out of the lateral habenula and how that affects behavior under normal conditions as well as in depressive conditions.

Kelsey Ladt
Executive Vice President

Kelsey is an MD/PhD student in the Neurosciences Graduate Program at University of California, San Diego. She is currently working on her PhD thesis.

Ahmed Abushawish

Ahmed graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a BS in Physiology and Neuroscience. When he isn’t working at Neurophotometrics, Ahmed is researching the intracellular organization of calcium regulating protein in both the hippocampus and the cerebellum in the lab of Dr. Brenda Bloodgood.

In his free time, Ahmed enjoys spending time with his niece and nephew in addition to exploring the great outdoors.

Gemma Deegan
Gemma recently graduated from University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland with a BSc Neuroscience degree, and a minor in Statistics and Data Analytics. As part of her undergraduate thesis studies, Gemma worked in the Cagney lab to carry out investigations on the SETD1A protein that had been previously linked to schizophrenia, and characterised some of the cellular pathways that it is involved in. 
In her spare time, Gemma likes to travel, attempt to teach the team about the significant differences between Irish and American culture, and play Irish National games: camogie and gaelic football.
Madalyn De Viso

Maddy recently graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a BS in Physiology and Neuroscience. She volunteers in Dr. Roberto Malinow’s lab working on projects that explore the circuitry and behavior produced by the habenula. She previously worked with Dr. Takaki Komiyama characterizing the behavior produced by the rostral forelimb area and how the striatum modulates movement in mice. As an undergrad, Maddy dedicated her four years to reviewing undergraduate research in Saltman Quarterly, a biological research journal. She has held many positions including review board member, head production editor, and executive editor.

In her free time, Maddy enjoys cooking new recipes and attempting to keep her dwindling plant family alive. She hopes to start new projects fermenting vegetables and brewing her own kombucha.

Jenny Fried

Jenny Fried is a scientist at Neurophotometrics. She graduated from Oberlin College with a BA in Neuroscience, and worked previously as a research assistant in the Malinow Lab at UCSD. Previous scientific projects include work on improving auditory brainstem implants, investigations into the effects of estrogens and luteinizing hormone on GABAergic interneurons in a rat model of schizophrenia, and electrochemical explorations of melatonin effects on striatal dopamine release.
Outside of the lab, Jenny writes fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in magazines like Wigleaf, X-R-A-Y, and Jellyfish Review.

Savanna Howard

Savanna received her Master’s degree in Neuroscience and Psychology of Mental Health from King’s College London and her BS in Biopsychology from University of California, Santa Barbara. She has previously studied D1/D2 dopamine receptor blockade in the nucleus accumbens and its effects on stereotypy and hyperlocomotion in rats injected with amphetamine. Her Master’s thesis investigated the efficacy of early intervention on positive symptoms of psychosis in schizophrenia compared to schizoaffective disorders.

Outside of work, she likes to listen to crime podcasts, tend to her plant family, and research skincare.

Alan Loi

Alan recently graduated from University of California, San Diego with a BS in Bioengineering and a Business minor. He has worked with optogenetic and behavioral neuroscience experiments concerning the movement motivation, depression, and eating disorders in the lab of Dr. Roberto Malinow. Alan currently also works for a medical device company as a projet engineer, where he is involved in prototying, R&D testing, and creating new products for labs around the world.

Outside of research, Alan enjoys paddling with numerous dragonboat teams or running long distance. He also likes long walks along the beach and exploring new places.

Veronica Pessino
Senior Scientist
Veronica postdoc-ed in the lab of Dr. Sam Pfaff at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies where she studied neurodegenerative diseases (such as ALS and SMA) and mutant effects on the neuronal transcriptome, primarily through in vitro stem cell systems. She earned her PhD in Biophysics from the University of California, San Francisco, in the lab of Dr. Bo Huang, where she specialized in super resolution microscopy and its application to biological investigations of cellular signaling. Prior to this, she earned her B.A. in Biology and B.S. in Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she worked for the labs of Dr. Kenneth Kosik and Dr. Megan Valentine. 
Caroline Sferrazza
Director of Public Relations

Caroline is a science communicator who earned her MS from the Neurosciences Graduate Program at University of California, San Diego and her BA in Neuroscience & Behavior from Vassar College. At UCSD she worked as a graduate student in the lab of Dr. Lawrence SB Goldstein and served as the Director of the Neurosciences Outreach Program. She has also worked as a research assistant and intern in labs at The Rockefeller University, Columbia University, and The Feinstein Institute.

Caroline works to bring her experience from research and academia into the public realm to advocate for data-driven policy and discourse, with a focus on the improvement of mental health care. Outside of science, Caroline enjoys horseback riding, scuba diving, baseball, backpacking — pretty much anything that entails delighting in the gorgeous California sunshine.



Kiran Long-Iyer
John Messerly
Chris Yin