Palmer Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Theo Palmer, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
Vice Chair of Neurosurgical Research

Administrative Associate

Suzette Rodriguez

Executive Assistant

Lab Manager

Moises Rivera

Life Science Research Assistant

I joined the Palmer Lab in 2005 and since then I have been helping great people in the lab to get their projects done. Graduated from San Jose State University while working in the biotech/bioresearch since 1990. I spend my time helping lab members in anything they may need not only in the lab, but also outside the lab. In my spare time, I enjoy playing soccer and building and repairing anything around the house.

Research Scientists

Brooke Babineau

Senior Research Scientist

Brooke has had a lifelong interest in Autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. Understanding the neural underpinnings of behavioral disorders led her to pursue a BS in Neurobiology and then a PhD in Neuroscience both from UC Davis.  Following her PhD she received training in mouse behavioral phenotyping at the National Institute of Health and neurogenetics from UCSF. In the Palmer laboratory she works with multiple mouse models investigating the neural and behavioral effects of genetic susceptibilities and environmental insults. When not watching mice sniff each other, Brooke spends her time spoiling her dog Ollie, and when she has two good legs, she likes to hike, bike and snowboard.

Jim Wiemann

Senior Research Scientist

My interests centers on the signaling pathways that regulate the development of the mammalian cerebral cortex. I have developed paradigms to transplant neural progenitors and neurons into the mammalian cortex to ascertain their differentiation potential after various manipulations. I have developed a protocol to generate cortical pyramidal neurons from ES and iPS cells that after transplantation can fully integrate into local neural networks. My background is in neural systems and the modulation of network activity by neuropeptides. Recently, we have been developing methods to generate several classes of neurons from human iPSC and ESC lines to be used after spinal cord injury and to study several neurological disease states.

Research Associates

Alexandre da Cruz, PhD

Alex’s research is focused on the intersection of neuroscience and stem cell science with emphasis on the development of model systems of neurodegenerative disease. Alex developed a differentiation paradigm to create human dopaminergic neurons from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to understand the mechanisms leading to the loss of these neurons in the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Alex is currently working on understanding the role of immune signaling and redox stress Parkinson’s disease patients with mutations in the LRRK2 gene. Specifically, Alex is interested in creating techniques to directly visualize the differences between healthy and PD patient derived cells in response to immunological distress signals using time- lapse confocal microscopy.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Aditya Asokan, PhD

Aditya received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering where he studied the how neuroinflammation impacted adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus  and using luminex assays identified cytokines and chemokines that affected the differentiation of neural progenitor cells. After the joining the Palmer lab, Aditya's research focuses on studying the influence of classical immune receptors such as MHC-1 on neural connectivity in midbrain dopaminergic neurons. To this end he uses IPS-derived dopaminergic neurons and in vitro and in vivo following cell transplantation in a Parkinon's disease mouse model.

Marc Carmichael, PhD

Marc received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University. His overarching interest is in regenerative medicine, particularly in developing the tools to exploit the therapeutic potential of iPSC-derived cells to replace neurons lost following a traumatic CNS injury or neurodegenerative disease. Currently, Marc is on leave from the Stanford M.D. program to pursue postdoctoral research in the Palmer lab. His postdoctoral research is focused on investigating how the interaction of genes of interest and inflammation affects synaptic connectivity, and ultimately the integration of endogenous and transplanted neurons into functional networks within the CNS. Before coming to Stanford, Marc worked as both a Chemical and Process Engineer in the R&D divisions at Centocor and Merck & Co. with a focus on process development, tech transfer, and new technology development in the production of biopharmaceuticals from mammalian cells and fermentation processes. In addition to his academic and industry pursuits, Marc remains involved in various teaching, mentoring, and service activities within the Stanford and local communities.


Hyang Mi Amy Moon, PhD

Amy received her BS and MS in Biological Sciences from Seoul National University in South Korea and in 2012 obtained her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at UCSF. Her doctoral thesis research focused on cellular functions of Lissencephaly-1 in mouse model of human neuronal migration disorder, smooth brain. Her current postdoctoral research in Theo Palmer lab aims to investigate molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis in maternal illness-induced immune activation mouse and GABA receptor mutants as animal models of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In particular, she is interested in maternal-fetal interaction in the placenta and neural stem cell division/cerebral cortex neurogenesis during early brain development.


Anca Pasca, MD, PhD

Anca is a Neonatology clinical fellow and a Pediatric Scientist Development Program Scholar who received her MD from Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Romania and graduated from Pediatrics Residency at Stanford University. As a practicing Neonatologist, her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of brain injury in infants born extremely preterm (<28 weeks gestation).  She developed a 3D model for human cortical development by using induced pluripotent stem cells.  This innovative approach allows for the investigation of human brain development and disease in vitro and could lead to the identification of therapeutic targets aimed at improving the neurodevelopmental outcomes of preterm infants.

Graduate Students

Amy Braun


Amy received her B.A. in Neuroscience from the College of Wooster. She currently studies the impact of maternal immune activation on placental vasculature and fetal brain development. She is particularly interested in understanding how fetal sex interacts with maternal immune activation to produce sex-selective behavioral alterations in the adult offspring. She is also a certified yoga instructor and a vocalist and songwriter.

Jessica Lynn Diaz

Co-mentor: Suzanne Tharin

I am a 2nd year PhD student in the neuroscience program in Suzanne Tharin’s lab, co-mentored by Theo Palmer.   

I am interested in the role of microRNA in the development of corticospinal neurons, what the role of microRNAs might be in spinal cord injury, and the potential application to new therapies for spinal cord injuries.  

I grew up in Michigan.  Before coming to Stanford, I practiced as a veterinarian in emergency and critical care medicine in Florida.  Outside of lab, I enjoy spending time in the California sunshine with my dog Yoshi, reading, and crochet.

Ben Dulken

(Stem Cell/MSTP)

Co-mentor: Ann Brunet

Nora Vivanco Gonzalez


Nora received her B.S. in Biological Sciences with Honors from the University of Chicago in 2014. During her time at UChicago, Nora developed a strong interest in molecular and cellular biology, and for four years she researched the yeast-to-hyphae transition of Candida albicans under Dr. Stephen Kron and Dr. Daniel Kornitzer’s mentorship. Outside of lab, Nora co-founded and led GeneHackers, a student-run organization with a focus on synthetic biology. After graduating, Nora worked in Dr. Sean Bendall’s lab, using single cell mass cytometry to study phenotypic variation in human granulocytes. Nora joined the Palmer and Bendall labs in 2016, and currently investigates the immunomodulatory role of neurodevelopmental risk genes at the feto-maternal interface. During her spare time, Nora enjoys rock climbing, playing board games, and pampering her dog, Leo.

Co-mentor: Sean Bendall, PhD


Amber R. Moore


Amber received her B.A. in Anthropology and Chemistry from Bryn Mawr College. Immediately following graduation, she spent time doing traditional medicine research and living with lizards and spider crickets in Swaziland. She then returned to the States to accept a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health and study thymic reconstitution after bone marrow transplantation. Being predictably unpredictable, Amber moved to Japan to study HIV reverse transcriptase dimerization and developed an udon obsession. During her time in Japan, she became really excited about reproductive immunology. Now, she is interested in understanding how maternal infection during pregnancy alters fetal brain development. As a graduate student in the Palmer lab, Amber studies the immune mechanisms that underlie placental pathology following maternal immune activation. She also devotes a significant amount of time to judo, mentoring, teaching science to kids, and volunteering with STEM programs to encourage youth from underserved communities to pursue science.

Kristin Muench


Kristin studied Cognitive Science with an emphasis in Neuroscience at UC San Diego. She subsequently researched language development at Emory University before joining Stanford's Neurosciences Ph.D. program. At Stanford, Kristin uses bioinformatic tools to study cell fate decisions in the developing neocortex following maternal immune activation. She estimates that she drank 65.625 gallons of tea in 2016.

Jennifer Su

Jennifer received her B.A. in Molecular Cellular Biology from UC Berkeley in 2014. At Berkeley, she studied the effects of stress on adult neurogenesis under the mentorship of Dr. Daniela Kaufer. After graduating, Jennifer worked in the Palmer lab investigating the synergistic effects of genetic susceptibilities and maternal immune activation on placental and fetal brain development. Her interest in better understanding the neuroimmune interactions disrupted during neurodevelopment following early inflammatory events prompted her to rejoin the lab for her Ph.D. In her spare time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and long walks in nature.


Michelle Kielhold

I graduated from UC Davis in 2016 with a BS in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. My work in the Palmer lab has been focused on better understanding the role gene-environment interaction has in neurodevelopmental disorders, more specifically autism. By looking at the affects of MIA in different genetic models, we hope to learn more about the underlying mechanisms of the disorder. I hope to eventually use my experience here to go on to study other neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia.

Aditi Narayan

Aditi received her B.A. in Neuroscience from Boston University. She joined the Palmer Lab in November 2015 and spends her time examining mouse behavior.  Outside of lab, she enjoys going to art museums, watching Korean dramas, and napping. 

Undergraduate Students

Katie Plummer

Katie is a junior at Stanford majoring in Biomechanical Engineering. She works with Amber and Nora investigating the effects of maternal immune activation on immune cell populations in the placenta and fetal development. She also enjoys skiing, leading Stanford Pre-Orientation Trips (SPOT) for incoming freshmen, and other time spent outside. 

Tess Rinaldo

I am a sophomore majoring in Symbolic Systems with a concentration in Neuroscience. I'm currently working with Brooke Babineau to investigate the effects of certain gene mutations implicated in ASD on cell proliferation in the fetal cortex. I'm fascinated by the interplay between neurobiology and behavior, and hope to explore that link further in the Palmer lab. Aside from my academic interests, I also love hiking, gardening, cooking, and finding new music for KZSU.

Hannah Thi Minh Nguyen

I am currently an undergraduate at Stanford University, and joined the Palmer Lab in 2017. I am currently working with Brooke Babineau to investigate the effects of infection on placental development and embryonic brain structures. 

John Christopher Rodgers

I am a sophomore majoring in biology and following the pre-medical track. I previously worked in the Lowe Lab at the Hopkins Marine Station, studying genetic patterning in bat star larvae. In general, I enjoy learning about neurobiology and developmental biology. I find the Palmer Lab's research exciting because it combines these two fields in the context of health. In my free time, I enjoy birdwatching, photography, traveling, and gardening.

William Brown

I am a senior majoring in Biology, and have plans to apply to medical school after I graduate.  My two biggest academic interests are neuroscience and sports medicine.  I am very interested in genetic predisposition mixed with environmental conditions, and hope to explore that more in the Palmer lab. I also enjoy playing soccer, playing the drums and watching soccer.

Summer Scholars

From left to right: Sara Walton (SSRP), Niharika Loomba (SSRP), Theo Palmer, Kalkidan Agdie (SIMR),  Darya Buchholz (SIMR), Alejandro Viveros (SIMR)