Lab Members

Julie Kauer, PhD

Principle Investigator

Julie Kauer received her PhD in Pharmacology from Yale University, and then completed postdoctoral work at UCSF with Dr. Roger Nicoll and at Stanford with Dr. Richard Tsien. Since starting her own lab, first at Duke University School of Medicine, then Brown University School of Medicine, and now Stanford University School of Medicine, she has become a leader in the fields of cellular physiology and synaptic plasticity. She was named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012 and is on the editorial boards of several journals, including Physiological Reviews and eLife. Hers was one of the first labs to identify synaptic changes in the brain’s reward circuitry as a consequence of exposure to drugs of abuse. Most recently the lab has been comparing the different behavioral and synaptic plasticity profiles of individual GABAergic afferents controlling VTA dopamine neurons.

Valentina Martinez Damonte, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Valentina earned her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina. Her interest in the brain arises from its complexity and malleability to shape different behavioral outcomes. During her PhD she studied the modulation of voltage-gated calcium channels in primary neuronal cultures and brain slices by a GPCR involved in energy homeostasis and memory. As a postdoctoral fellow in Julie Kauer’s lab she is using her expertise in electrophysiology and subcellular neuroscience to explore the plasticity of inhibitory afferents into the VTA. In her free time, Valen enjoys cooking, reading and practicing tango or yoga.

Chelsie Brewer, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Chelsie Brewer, PhD completed her doctoral studies in neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati. Her research interests include studying the connectivity of neural circuits involved in pain, substance dependence and addiction behavior, and the development and maturation of these neuronal pathways and processes. Outside of the lab, she enjoys gardening and travel.

Claire Elena Manning, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Claire completed her bachelor degrees from UC Davis and earned her PhD in Neuroscience from Michigan State University in 2019. In the Kauer lab, Claire will be using a combination of techniques including ex-vivo slice electrophysiology, chemogenetics and optogenetics to investigate the midbrain physiology underlying fear, anxiety, and pain. Away from the bench, she is a crossword enthusiast and avid foodie.


Yihe Ma, PhD 

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Yi received her Ph.D. degree in Physiology in 2020 from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her thesis work focused on interrogating hippocampal microcircuits with a hybrid genetically-encoded voltage indicator. In 2021, Yi joined Stanford as a postdoctoral scholar under the co-mentorship of Dr. William Giardino and Dr. Julie Kauer.

Lab Alumni

Postdoctoral Fellow Alumni

  • Lori L McMahon, PhD: Dean of UAB Graduate School, Jarman F. Lowder Professor of Neuroscience and Director of Comprehensive Neuroscience Center
  • Susan Jones, PhD: Lecturer (with tenure), Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, Cambridge University
  • Jeffrey Edwards, PhD: Associate Professor, Brigham Young University and Associate Director of the Brigham Young University Neuroscience Center
  • Fereshteh Nugent, PhD: Associate Professor, Pharmacology, Uniformed Services University Health Sciences
  • Travis Brown, PhD: Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Science, School of Pharmacy, University of Wyoming
  • Abigail Polter, PhD: Assistant Professor, Deptartment of Pharmacology and Physiology, George Washington School of Medicine
  • Bruno Pradier, PhD: Translational Research Imaging Center (TRIC), Departments of Clinical Radiology and Anesthesiology, University Hospital Münster
  • Esther Penick, PhDChair of Neuroscience, Associate Professor of Biology, Knox College
  • Yong Li, MD: Psychiatrist, Theda Care Behavioral Health
  • Helen Gibson, PhD
  • Jason Niehaus, PhD: Associate Director of Biology, Addgene
  • Nelson Cruz-Bermudez, PhD: Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras
  • Nicholas Graziane, PhD: Assistant Professor, Penn State University
  • Michelle Kloc, PhD: Postdoctoral Associate, Epilepsy, Cognition, and Development Lab, University of Vermont
  • Kelsey Barcomb, PhD: Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Chris Ford's Lab, Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Graduate Student Alumni

  • Anda Chirila, PhD: Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. David Ginty’s lab, Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School
  • Robyn St. Laurent, PhD: Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Robert Malenka’s lab, Department of Psychiatry, Stanford School of Medicine
  • Rachel Stevenson: Graduate Student, Neuroscience Graduate Program, Brown University
  • Johanna Gutlerner, PhD: Interim Associate Dean for Planning and Administration for Basic Science, Graduate Education, and Global Program and Lecturer, Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School
  • Manjari Murali, PhD: Adjunct Biology Faculty, Irvine Valley College