Lab Members Timeline

Research and Support Staff

Maureen Galvez - Administrative Assistant 

Chang Kim - Junior Assistant Specialist

Postdoctoral Scholars

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Ryan N. Delgado, M.D., Ph.D. 

I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and attended the University of Arizona where I studied Molecular and Cellular Biology. As a student in the MD/PhD program at UCSF, I developed an interest in developmental biology and studied the role of the chromatin modifying protein Mll1 in maintaining the regional identity of stem cells in the postnatal subventricular zone. As a post-doc in the Nowakowski lab, I am interested in studying developmental lineage relationships between radial glia subtypes and postmitotic neurons and astrocytes in the cerebral cortex. Using single cell RNA sequencing, my goal is to discover new genetic programs regulating cell fate decisions during neurogenesis and gliogenesis.


California Institute of Regenerative Medicine Graduate Fellowship, 2013

Significant Publications

Delgado RN and Lim DA. Embryonic Nkx2.1-expressing neural precursor cells contribute to the regional heterogeneity of adult V–SVZ neural stem cells. Developmental Biology 2015; PMID: 26387477


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Galina Schmunk, Ph.D. 

I received my PhD from UC Irvine, where I discovered a previously unknown calcium signaling deficit across different forms of autism spectrum disorders. Working on autism made me interested in early human neurodevelopment and how prenatal environmental factors, including maternal inflammation, impact brain development and increase autism risks. For my postdoctoral training, I am interested in identifying gene expression profile governing glial maturation and intercellular interactions during neuro-glial interactions in developing brain, and to understand how genetic and environmental perturbations during early neurodevelopment translate into increased autism risk.


Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship F32 – 2018

Significant Publications

Schmunk, G., Nguyen, R. L., Ferguson, D. L., Kumar, K., Parker, I. & Gargus, J. J. High-throughput screen detects calcium signaling dysfunction in typical sporadic autism spectrum disorder. Scientific Reports, 7, 40740 (2017).

Schmunk, G., Boubion, B. J., Smith, I. F., Parker, I. & Gargus, J. J. Shared functional defect in IP3R-mediated calcium signaling in diverse monogenic autism syndromes. Transl. Psychiatry 5, e643 (2015).

Mohamed Aboukilila, M.D., Ph.D.

Graduate Students

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David Shin - BMS

After spending the first 18 years of my life in the arid suburbs of Moreno Valley, CA, I moved to the opposite coast to study Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard College. Upon graduating, I worked as a research technician in Dr. Cristopher Bragg’s Lab at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where I generated iPSC-derived neuronal cell models to study the genetic basis of a rare neurodegenerative movement disorder known as X-linked Dystonia Parkinsonism (XDP).  For my graduate work, I am interested in studying the emergence of neocortical excitatory neurons before the onset of sensory experience and determining novel molecular programs that underlie areal fate specification.


National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship – 2018

Significant Publications

Aneichyk, T.*, Hendriks, W.T.*, Yadav, Y.*, Shin, D.*, Gao, D.*, Vaine, C.A., Collins, R.L., Domingo, A., Currall, B., Stortchevoi, A., et al. (2018). Dissecting the Causal Mechanism of X-Linked Dystonia Parkinsonism by Integrating Genome and Transcriptome Assembly. Cell 172, 897-909.   


Denise Allen - BMS

I grew up just south of San Francisco and returned home after obtaining my bachelor's degree in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology from UCLA. During my time at UCLA I worked in Dr. Ellen Carpenter's lab studying the role of Reelin signaling in mammary gland and brain development, as well as in Dr. Bill Lowry's lab where I used an iPSC model to demonstrate that the loss of MECP2 induces cell stress and senescence in developing interneurons. I have now shifted my developmental interests the most abundant and multi-talented cell type in the brain: astrocytes. I am particularly interested in determining the genetic programs that direct the gliogenic switch, the lineage restriction of astrocytes and their precursors, and how these programs enable the emergence of astrocyte heterogeneity within the human brain.


National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship – 2018

Significant publications

Minori Ohashi*, Elena Korsakova*, Denise Allen, Peiyee Lee, Kai Fu, Benni Vargas, Jessica Cinkornpumin, Carlos Salas, Jenny Park, Igal Germanguz, Justin Langerman, Contantinos Chronis, Edward Kuoy, Stephen Tran, Xinshu Xiao, Matteo Pellegrini, Kathrin Plath, William Lowry. (2018). Loss of MECP2 Leads to Activation of p53 and Neuronal Senescence. Stem Cell Reports 10, 1453-1463.

*Co-first authors

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Matt Keefe - DSCB

I’m originally from Pennsylvania, where I attended the Pennsylvania State University as an undergraduate studying Molecular and Cell Biology. During my time there I worked in a lab focused on using transcription factors to convert astrocytes to neurons in neurodegenerative conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to spinal cord injury. I became very interested in cell fate plasticity and neurogenesis, and in the Nowakowski lab I hope to employ novel technologies to further understand the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that influence the development of specific neuronal subtypes.


Significant publications

Keefe MG, Nowakowski TJ. (2019) A recipe book for cell types in the human brain. Nature 573(7772):36-37; PMID: 31481767


Ryan Ziffra - BMS (joint with Nadav Ahituv lab)

I grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago, where I studied business administration at DePaul University. After a brief stint in Corporate America, I went back to school and obtained a second bachelor’s in biomedical science from Dominican University. I then worked as a research technician in the labs of Drs. Carole Ober and Marcelo Nobrega at The University of Chicago, where I investigated the epigenetic and regulatory genomic basis of human labor and preterm birth. I am now focused on elucidating the epigenetic and gene regulatory programs underlying human neurodevelopment and how dysfunction in these programs may lead to neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Autism Speaks Predoctoral Fellowship – 2019

Derek Bogdanoff - Tetrad


Significant publications

Horlbeck MA, Xu A, Wang M, Bennett NK, Park CY, Bogdanoff D, Adamson B, Chow ED, Kampmann M, Peterson TR, Nakamura K, Fischbach MA, Weissman JS, Gilbert LA. (2018) Mapping the Genetic Landscape of Human Cells. Cell. 174(4):953-967

Bogdanoff D, Jou T, Lee B (2015) Characterization of Action and Efficiency of Tn5 Transposase Through Comparative qPCR Journal of Experimental Microbiology and Immunology

Undergraduate Students


Ashley Frans - undergraduate volunteer, UC Berkeley

I am currently a student at UC Berkeley studying Molecular and Cellular Biology on the Neurobiology track. After taking multiple computer science courses, I grew interested in how computer science and the analysis of data structures can augment our understanding of the brain and help model neurological processes. I am currently working with single cell RNA seq data to try to define astrocyte populations in the human brain.


Lab Alumni

2019 Julia Schroeder - Junior Assistant Specialist

2019 Shaun Cho - Undergraduate Student, UC Berkeley

2018 Tamara Sharf - Undergraduate Student, UC Berkeley

2017 Johain Ounadjela - Undergraduate Student, Columbia University