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Dr. Jefferson Kinney:



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Jefferson Kinney, PhD

Associate Professor

Chair, Neuroscience Division

Department of Psychology, UNLV

Affiliate Faculty Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine


Dr. Kinney earned his Ph.D. in 2000 from Colorado State University. He was then awarded an Intramural Research Training Fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health working in the Section of Behavioral Genetics directed by Dr. Jacqueline Crawley. Research topics in the laboratory focused on both behavioral pharmacology projects as well as extensive behavioral phenotyping of several transgenic mouse models. In October of 2002, Dr. Kinney was awarded the Helen Dorris Fellowship in schizophrenia research in the Department of Neuropharmacology at The Scripps Research Institute in the laboratory of Dr. Tamas Bartfai. Research projects in the laboratory focused on the cellular and molecular alterations in not only schizophrenia but also several other neurological disorders. In August of 2007, Dr. Kinney joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Contact Dr. Kinney:


Senior researchers & Lab managers

Arnold Salazar, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Arnold graduated from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. His research interests fall in the broad field of molecular biology of diseases. His current projects focus on the mechanisms of microglial responses to neuroinflammation.

Contact Arnold:             

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Andrew A. Ortiz, BA

Graduate Student /Lab Technician

Andrew A. Ortiz graduated with a bachelors in Psychology and a minor in neuroscience on May 2017 and is accepted into our lab as a graduate student Fall 2018. Andrew has previously worked in Dr. James M. Hyman's in vivo electrophysiology laboratory where he specialized on how multiple brain areas interact and synchronize. Andrew is now interested on how glial cells and neuroinflammation affect neurodegenerative diseases.

Contact Andrew:

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Amanda Leisgang, BS

Graduate Student

Amanda joined our lab as a graduate student in Fall 2017. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2015 with degrees in biology, psychology, and chemistry. Amanda has previously worked in the laboratory of Dr. Devinder Sandhu specializing in plant genetics and is excited to focus her attention on her passion for neurodegenerative diseases. 

Contact Amanda:

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Logan Myers, Ph.D.

Doctorate in Cellular and Molecular Biology

Logan Myers received his Ph.D. in August 2017 from the University of Nevada, Reno. His dissertation focused on cellular mechanisms driving the formation and function of central and stomatogastric nervous systems in invertebrates via RET proto-oncogene. Logan's current work is looking at the effects that neurodegenerative disease has on the structure and function of the enteric nervous system in relation to changes that occur in the CNS.

Contact Logan:





CURRENT Research Assistants

Megan Yoon

Megan Yoon

Megan Yoon, MS

Megan is a future candidate for the clinical psychology Ph.D. program. Her research focus is understanding the molecular mechanisms that drive clinical pathology. Megan graduated in 2013 with a Masters of Science and is excited to continue her academic career within the biological sciences in conjunction with translation clinical research. 

Megan is also an active member of the STREAM (Sex-Differentiated and Translational Research in Eating, Anxiety, and Mood) laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Kristen Culbert

Contact Megan:

Willie Jay Nicolas

Willie Jay Nicolas


Willie Jay Nicolas

Willie is a junior undergraduate student pursing a degree in Biology with a minor in neuroscience. Upon graduation Willie intends to pursue medical school. He is academically interested in furthering his knowledge of Alzheimers Disease pathology and the physiological effects on learning and behavior. Willie hopes to discover new findings towards this neurodegenerative disease and apply this knowledge towards a clinical setting.



Renzo Chuapoco

Renzo Chuapoco


Renzo Chuapoco

Renzo is an undergraduate student at UNLV pursuing dual-degrees in Biology and Kinesiology. His academic interests include research on Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases; specifically, he wishes to understand the effects of neuroinflammation and prolonged activated microglial responses. He wishes to someday investigate the effects of exercise interventions on these neurological conditions. After graduating with his degrees, Renzo intends to further his education and attend medical school specializing in either neurology or orthopedic surgery. 

Nicholas Kolch

Nicholas Kolch

Nicholas Kolch

Nicholas attends University of Nevada Las Vegas as a junior undergraduate majoring in Biology and minoring in Neuroscience and Psychology. He is interested in research regarding neurodegenerative diseases and hopes to attend medical school to study neurology or psychiatry.


Michelle Perez

Michelle Perez

Michelle Perez

Michelle is a junior undergraduate pursuing a degree in Biology and a minor in Neuroscience at UNLV. Her academic interests include learning about neurodegenerative disease and how these diseases relate to physiological processes. She plans on attending medical school with hopes of becoming a pathologist.

Christian (Kitan) Guese

Christian (Kitan) Guese

Christian (Kitan) Guese

Kitan is a senior undergraduate pursuing a degree in Biology at UNLV. He hopes to be accepted into dental school after graduation. Although dental school does not revolve around neurodegenerative disease prevention, he wants to make some sort of impact in this study. His interest is rooted in simply understanding Alzheimer’s Disease better.


Celine Nguyen

Celine is an undergraduate student pursuing a major in Biology. She is especially interested in the studying th pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. After graduating, she plans on attending medical school


Ava Platt

Ava Platt


Ava Platt

Ava is a nontraditional undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. Ava is interested in neuropsychology and how molecular and cellular processes are altered in psychopathology, substance abuse, and neurodegenerative disorders. Additionally, she is interested in how physical activity improves mental health. Ava is a yoga instructor at the UNLV Campus Recreation and Wellness Center and has a passion for helping others live a healthy lifestyle. Ava spent summer 2018 completing an clinical internship in Jerusalem, Israel at the Landau Lab at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the mentorship of Dr. Ayelet Landau to research time perception, attention, and brain rhythms. After graduating, Ava intends to further her education by pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.



Marie Hernandez

Marie is a nontraditional student pursuing a bachelors in Pre-Professional Biology and Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. Her academic career goals and interests center around seeking treatment options for neurodegenerative diseases, understanding the effects of brain injury and trauma, and learning about various psychological disorders impacting society. After graduation, Marie plans on furthering her education through medical school. 

Michael Kimmich

Michael Kimmich

Michael Kimmich

Michael graduated UNLV in Fall 2018 with a bachelors in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. He has an interest in learning the cellular mechanisms behind neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. He is planning on going to graduate school for a Ph.D. in experimental psychology with an emphasis in neurology. Michael plans to do research in the field of neurodegenerative diseases with the hope of finding better therapeutic methods

Asad Chowdhry

Asad Chowdhry

Asad Chowdhry

Asad is an undergraduate pursuing a major in Biology and dual minors in Neuroscience and Psychology. He is interested in learning about the effects of neurodegenerative diseases on a cellular level. After graduation Asad plans on attending medical school.


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(Left to right)

Back: Christian Guese, Logan Meyers, Megan Yoon, Marie Hernandez, Chelsea Tran, Ibrahim Bhatti, Amanda Leisgang

Middle: Michelle Perez, Cailey Divers, Andrew Ortiz, Myguan Trinh, Nicholas Kolch, Ava Platt

Front: Renzo Chuapoco, Emily Chau, Dr. Jefferson Kinney, Willie Jay Nicolas, Arnold Salazar


(Left to right)

Back: Nicholas Kolch, Amanda Leisgang, Dr. Jefferson Kinney, Logan Meyers, Emily Chau, Andrew Ortiz

Front: Ibrahim Bhatti, Chelsea Tran, Renzo Chuapoco, Arnold Salazar, Myguan Trinh, Megan Yoon, Marie Hernandez, Michelle Perez




(Left to right)

Back: Renzo Chuapoco, Logan Myers, Andrew Murtishaw

Middle: Amanda Leisgang, Robert Sotille, Chelsea Tran, Hailey Bergman, Marie Hernandez, Andrew Ortiz, Emily Chau

Front: James Toughlian, Arnold Salazar, Dr. Kinney




(Left to right)

Back/Middle: Dr. Kinney, Renzo Chuapoco, Andrew Murtishaw, William Kim, Austin Boren, Megan Yoon, James Toughlian, Michelle Strong, Choi Tsang, Andrew Ortiz

Front: Arnold Salazar, Emily Chau, Monica Bolton, Alex Goslar





Spring Semester 2016

(Left to right)

Back: Hailey Bergman, Kirsten Calvin, Monica Bolton

Middle: Robert Nagele, Andrew Murtishaw

Back: James Toughlian, Dr. Kinney, Austin Boren

Not pictured: James McClinch

former Senior Researchers & Lab Managers


Chelcie Heaney

Chelcie Heaney


Chelcie Heaney, PhD

Chelcie received her Ph.D. from UNLV in Spring 2015. She joined the Experimental Psychology program with an emphasis in Neuroscience in the fall of 2009, having previously obtained a B.A. in Psychology and Biology from Boston University in 2007.  She earned her M.A. from the program in the spring of 2012. Her research interests include inhibitory mechanisms of learning and memory, focusing on hippocampal circuitry, and how alterations within these circuits contribute to disease states. Chelcie is currently a post-doctoral scholar in the laboratory of Dr. Kimberly Raab-Graham at the Center for Learning and Memory at the University of Texas at Austin, which is currently in the process of relocating to Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina. 

Contact Chelcie:


Monica Bolton

Monica Bolton


Monica Bolton, PhD

Monica received her PhD in January of 2017 with her dissertation entitled, "An Evaluation of GABAB Receptors on Modulating Neuroinflammation in a Non-Transgenic Animal Model of Alzheimer's Disease." She is currently a Medical Science Liaison at Teva Pharmaceuticals, where she is a field-based medical expert responsible for scientific exchange on headache/migraine disease states and products.

Contact Monica:


Austin Boren

Austin Boren


Austin Boren, BA

Austin Boren graduated from UNLV in Fall 2015 with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in neuroscience.  He began the Experimental Program in Fall 2016. His research interests include learning and memory, the role of GABA in neuropyschological disorders, and the pathology of neurodegenerative disorders. Austin transferred to the Hines Group Laboratory in August 2017.

Contact Austin: 

Jonathan Sabbagh

Jonathan Sabbagh


Jonathan Sabbagh, PhD

Jonathan entered the Experimental program in 2007 with a B.S. in Neuroscience from Tulane University. His research interests include elucidating mechanistic features of Alzheimer's disease. Jon graduated in the spring of 2013 with his Ph.D. and worked as post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Molecular Medicine USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute in the laboratory of Dr. Chad Dickey. Jon is currently working for NIH in the NINDS as a Health Program Specialist.

Contact Jon:



Andrew Murtishaw

Andrew Murtishaw


Andrew Murtishaw, PhD

Andrew received his PhD in July 2018. His dissertation work is entitled "An Evaluation of Alzheimer's Disease-Related Pathology in Two Different Models of Diabetes in Immune-Challenged Mice." His research in the lab focused primarily on overlapping mechanisms between diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease. Andrew is currently working as a Research Associate in the UNLV School of Nursing's Applied Biomedical Research Laboratory.

Contact Andrew:



Isaac Santa Ana, BS

Contact Isaac:

Michael Langhardt, MS 

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Krystal Belmonte, BS

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James McClinch, BS

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William Kim

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Hailey Bergman

Contact Hailey:

Robert Sotille

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Ibrahim Bhatti

Contact Ibrahim:

Josh Gordon, HS Intern

Contact Josh:

Kirsten Calvin

Contact Kirsten:

Christy Magcalas, BA

Contact Christy:

Stephanie Nagl, BA

Contact Stephanie:

Patrick Hagins, BA

Contact Patrick:

James Toughlian

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Emily Chau

Contact Emily:

Michelle Strong

Contact Michelle:

Robert Nagele

Contact Robert:

Alex Goslar

Contact Alex:

Choi Tsang

Contact Choi: