The Lab

Dr. Elizabeth Byrnes


BA, Psychology
University of Massachusetts, Boston
PhD, Neuroscience
Ohio State University
Postdoctoral Training
Ohio State University
Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Fair Vassoler
Assistant Professor


BA, Psychology
Boston University
MA, Pharmacology & Biomedical Neuroscience
Boston University
PhD, Neuroscience
Perelman School of Medicine,
University of Pennsylvania
Postdoctoral Training
University of Pennsylvania
Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Current Lab Members

Dr. Kelsea Gildawie
Postdoctoral Scholar

Dr. Gildawie graduated from Simmons University in 2016 with a major in Neuroscience and Behavior and a minor in Biostatistics. Her undergraduate research involved the protective effects of anthocyanin-rich berries on cognitive decline and neuroimmune activation in aged mice following long-term ingestion of a high-fat diet. She received her PhD in Psychology (specializing in Behavioral Neuroscience) from Northeastern University in 2021, where she worked with Dr. Heather Brenhouse to uncover the neurodevelopmental impacts of early life adversity. As a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Byrnes-Vassoler Lab, Dr. Gildawie is investigating the neuromolecular drivers of addiction, with a focus on the sex-dependent effects of prenatal opioid exposure on neurostructural development and long-term cognitive outcomes.

Chantal Aaron
Graduate Student

Chantal Aaron graduated from Ferrum College in Ferrum, Virginia. She is originally from St. Catherine, Jamaica. In undergrad, she studied the role of over-activation of astrocytes in the neurological consequences of systemic sepsis. She did a Post-baccalaureate at Boston University working in the laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Luebke and Dr. Maria Medalla studying the age-related changes to myelin in the lateral prefrontal cortex in young, middle-aged, and aged rhesus monkeys. She is currently a first-year in the Tufts Neuroscience PhD program investigating the impacts of prenatal opioid exposure on neural MeCP2 expression in the Byrnes-Vassoler lab.

Kerri Budge
Senior Research Technician

​​Kerri graduated from Framingham State University in 2018 with a major in Biology and a minor in Biochemistry. Her undergraduate research with Dr. Eugene Muller in the department of microbiology focused on creating a vaccine to help protect dogs from Canine Pyoderma, a painful and recurrent skin infection, using mice as model organisms. After a brief stint working as an Emergency Medical Technician, Kerri has since returned to the lab and started working as a Research Technician in the Byrnes-Vassoler Lab in September 2020.

Current DVM Students
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Megan Gulsby, V25

Former Lab Members

Research Technicians
Daniel Papa
Sara Isgate
Delaney Teceno
Deion Moore
Pankhuri Walia
Trevor Patton
Nicole Johnson-Collins

Former Graduate Rotation Students – Tufts University
Katrina Blandino

Former Masters Students
LuJuana Jackson, M.S. Tufts University at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine ’22
Jessica White, M.S. – Tufts University at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine ’21
Ashley Blau, M.S.Clark University ’12

Former DVM Students Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
Jillian Celatka, V24
Emily Lowell, V24
Hannah Prutchi, V24
Yuwen Chen, V25
Katie Fleming, V23
Sarah Flick, DVM
Hayley Klosowski, DVM
Rachel Alionhart, DVM
Adrian Dannis, DVM
Michele LaPointe, DVM
Annie Kubarek, DVM
Siobhan Wright, DVM
Caroline Bodi, DVM
Kristy Meadows, DVM
Nicole Mazzaschi, DVM
Marian Schenk, DVM
Lauren O’Connell, DVM
Yuri Lawrence, DVM

Former Undergraduate Students
Kevin Byrnes, Worcester State University ’23
Cora Cunningham, Tufts University ’24
Luca Lazzaretto, Princeton University ‘23
Katherine Wang, Tufts University ’22
Giselle Castro, Worcester State University ’22
Gabrielle Nader, Worcester State University ’22
Yomari Colon-Ruiz, University of Puerto Rico at Cayey ’22
Hillary Nna, Framingham State University ’22
Claire Davidson, Tufts University, Laidlaw Scholar Program ’20