People

Lab members and their research.

Melina Hale

Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy and Committees on Neurobiology and Computational Neuroscience.

My interests focus on the neuromechanics of locomotor systems, their development and evolution. I'm particularly interested in hindbrain and spinal cord neural circuits that drive paired fin movements and axial bending of the body. We use morphology, physiology and behavior to examine how sensorimotor systems are organized and function. While most of our work is in the zebrafish, a great genetic model system, we are pursuing significant efforts in non-model organisms to explore specialized functional systems, like lungish limbs, and address questions of nervous system evolution.


Brett Aiello

Graduate Student, Organismal Biology and Anatomy

I like coffee, fish, and a high signal to noise ratio. I work to better understand how pectoral fin proprioception is encoded in a fish's sensory nervous system. A better understanding for the type of information that is being encoded, how it is being encoded, and how it is different in fish that employ different pectoral fin-based swimming behaviors will allow us to better understand how this fundamental sense is evolving in vertebrates. For more information, see my website here.

Hilary Katz

Graduate Student, Organismal Biology and Anatomy.

I am interested in how neural circuits and behaviors change with respect to ontogenetic morphological transformations. I am using the fish startle response as my model system to address this question.


Adam Hardy

Graduate Student, Organismal Biology and Anatomy

Adam seeks to integrate the fields of biomechanics and neurobiology to examine the fish sensorimotor system. He is particularly interested in benthic fish and how their fins are adapted for substrate-based behaviors. Insights into the mechanical properties and sensory capabilities of fish fins will contribute to the current understanding of fish locomotion.

Check out Adam's website here


Jack Bliamptis

Undergraduate, Biology


Joyce Lu

Undergraduate, Biology

I am interested in understanding how organisms modify behaviors in order to adapt to morphological changes throughout development, especially in transition between various stages of growth. My current research explores the link between respiratory development and changes in pectoral fin function during zebrafish ontogeny.


Noah Sawyer

Undergraduate, Biology


Katharine Henderson

Graduate Student, Organismal Biology and Anatomy

I’m broadly interested in sensory systems, and I am particularly interested in proprioception and sensorimotor integration. For my thesis work, I am investigating mechanosensory systems in larval zebrafish. Particularly, my goal is to answer the question: how do zebrafish sense their axial bends during locomotion? When I’m not wrangling fish, I’m on my bike, drawing, or playing with my pup.

Katie's twitter handle is: @_kwh_

You can find Katie's website here: http://home.uchicago.edu/~kwh/


Bonnie Song


Chery Cherian

I am a Biology major and interested in attending medical school in the future. In lab I am working with Brett Aiello to examine fin ray proprioception in wrasses with different ray mechanical properties.


Lab Alums

We're so proud of our Alums!

Yen-Chyi Liu, Ph.D. is a postdoc. at the Vollum Institute.

Tom Stewart, Ph.D. (honorary lab member - primary appointment with Mike Coates) is a postdoc. at Yale.

Heather King, PhD.   Currently postdoc. Center for Early Math and Science Education, University of Chicago. Connect to Heather here.

Matt Green, PhD. Postdoc. Northwestern University. Connect to Matt here.

Hilary Bierman, PhD. is a Lecturer at The University of Maryland. Connect with Hilary here.

Dean Thorsen, PhD.  Is now a medical student at Touro University, Vallejo, CA.

Jens Paul, MS. Now practicing MD, Germany.

Jingyi Fan, Postdoc. Jingyi is an Associate Professor in the Pediatric Department (Pediatric Neurology) and Vice Director in the Teaching Office at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University.

Ru Yi Teow, lab manager. Is now working in beautiful Seattle WA.

We're working on a full list of the lab's undergrad alums and their current positions. Undergrads have gone on to careers in medicine and/or research. Undergrads include: Julie Schriefer, Justin Cassidy, Ryan Day, Ian Bailey, Rachel Fremont, Nicole Neubarth and Bailey Steinworth.

We love hearing from all our alums and getting updates on your adventures!