Katherine is from Kensington, Maryland majoring in Neuroscience on a pre-med track. She was drawn to BANGL because of her passion for exploring connections between external conditions and their effect not only on behavior but on biological mechanisms as well. Through BANGL she hopes to learn more about the plasticity of the brain and how to apply this knowledge to better the lives of children dealing with epilepsy and other implications from premature birth. Outside of the lab, she spends her free time working with Tulane EMS, playing soccer and enjoying all that New Orleans has to offer.
Sophia Foroushani, M.S.
Sophia is a medical student at Tulane. Before making the move to New Orleans, she received her B.S. in Human Physiology from Boston University and her M.S. in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University. Sophia is particularly interested in research outcomes following early-life adversity and works on the Tulane Lullaby Project assessing the impact of music on opioid-exposed infants. When not in the lab, she enjoys cooking, trying new NOLA restaurants, and exploring the city’s green spaces with her two dogs.
Mariza Francis is an undergraduate student from New Orleans studying neuroscience and anthropology on a pre-med track. She was drawn to the BANGL lab for its translative research and direct clinical implications, which is the type of research she hopes to do as a future physician-scientist. She is especially interested in how external stressors, such as COVID-19, affect epigenetic and cellular factors in both mother and child. Outside of BANGL, Mariza plays for the women’s ultimate frisbee team at Tulane, is a member of Phi Delta Epsilon, and is a math instructor at Mathnasium - Math Learning Center.
Ginny Hatch, M.S.
Ginny received a B.S. in Psychology from Tulane University and a M.S. in Developmental Psychology from University of New Orleans. She is interested in the impact of the parent-child relationship and contextual risk on children’s developing social-emotional skills and later school readiness. Specifically, she is interested in how parent-child interactions act as a buffer to early life stress. Ginny has joined the Doctoral School Psychology Program at Tulane under Dr. Sarah Gray.
Dia Hodnett, M.P.H.
Dia joined the BANGLab in 2020 as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Express Yourself human milk quality improvement collaborative. Dia received a B.A. in English from Vanderbilt University and a MPH in Behavioral Science and Health Education from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She was drawn to the dynamic and intersectional work underway at the BANGL because of her commitment to research efforts focused on our most vulnerable populations, and that aim to create sustainable change in policy and practice. Dia finds joy and balance in the outdoors--camping, hiking, running, and playing with her dog Koa, and Ruby, her red foot tortoise.
Meghan Howell, M.D.
Dr. Howell is a pediatrician who joined the Department of Pediatrics as faculty in 2015 after completing both her medical school and residency here at Tulane. As the clinical director of the Tulane NICU Graduate Clinic, which she founded in 2017, she has worked to enhance the long term medical, social and developmental care of high-risk neonates through a multidisciplinary team approach. More specifically, her interests include both short-term care and long-term implications of intra-uterine substance exposure, and she is currently serving as PI alongside Dr. Drury on the Tulane Lullaby Project - a collaboration with Loyola University's graduate music therapy program evaluating the role of music therapy in the care of opiate exposed infants. In October 2018, she was accepted into the Physician Scientist Pipeline Program, a mentored program through Tulane designed to support early career clinician scientists.
Leila is an undergraduate at Tulane University, currently studying Neuroscience and Cell Biology. She was born Lafayette, Louisiana, and has always loved to learn, read, and explore her surroundings. She finds the field of pediatric oncology immensely interesting and wants to learn more of how genetics and neurodevelopment interplay. She also enjoys playing tennis, reading, playing the piano, and traveling.
Alyssa is the BANGLab manager and joined the lab in 2019. In addition to managing the day-to-day workings of the lab, she also coordinates the NOLA Express Yourself breastfeeding quality improvement collaborative and assists in retinal image analysis for the Ebola Pediatric Survivors Mental Health project. Alyssa moved to New Orleans from Bethesda, MD and enjoys hiking, trying out new restaurants, and hanging out with her cat.
Celia is a recent graduate of Neuroscience and Public Health at Tulane and is currently completing a post-bac in the lab before beginning her year as a Fulbright Scholar in India. Celia was drawn to the BANGL lab as it integrates her intellectual and personal passions for pediatrics, genetic analysis, and equity. She is particularly excited about with the lab’s implications on community-based organizations, academic research, and policy change, and the potential to improve the lives of children regardless of class, race, or gender. Celia spent her fall 2018 semester studying Public Health, Gender, and Community Action in New Delhi, India.
Cecile is a sophomore at Tulane, majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Mathematics on the pre-med track. In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer, playing the piano, and volunteering at the local Children's Hospital. Cecile is excited to relate the psychological and biological aspects of neuroscience, analyzing the relationship between human behavior and epigenetic factors in the BANGLab.
Lauren W. Yowelunh McLester-Davis
Lauren is currently a Neuroscience Ph.D. student at Tulane. Originally from the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, she majored in Biochemistry and Neuroscience earning a B.A. from Lawrence University. Lauren’s dedication to BANGL comes from her passion about the lab’s integration of molecular and behavioral assays in understanding health disparities. She is particularly interested in the role of genetic and epigenetic factors and modifications in neurodevelopmental pathways, as well as potential interventions. Outside of the lab, Lauren enjoys New Orleans’ food and culture, bouldering with friends, being outdoors, calling her family, and reading.
Melissa Middleton, Ph.D.
Melissa is a licensed clinical psychologist with specialized training in Infant and Early Childhood Mental health. After completing her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Central Florida, she completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in infant mental health. Her interests include understanding the impact of the infant-caregiver relationship on infants development as well as examining the role of early exposure to stress and adverse experiences on child developmental outcomes.
Renee is a current Tulane undergraduate from the Chicagoland area studying Public Health while on the pre-med track. She was drawn to BANGL because of its intersections with her interests in mother and child relationships, epigenetic pathways, and community health. Outside of the lab, Renee is a Tulane University Peer Health Educator, a member of Phi Mu Fraternity, and an avid reader.