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Current Lab Members


Jacqueline Barker, PhD

Principal Investigator


Jacqui earned her BA in Psychology at Ohio Wesleyan University. She completed her PhD in Neuroscience at Yale University, in the lab of Jane Taylor before moving to the Medical University of South Carolina to complete her postdoctoral training with Judson Chandler. Jacqui started her lab in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine in the fall of 2017.

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Kathleen Bryant

PhD Candidate, Neuroscience


Katie is completing her PhD with the Neuroscience PhD Program at the Drexel University College of Medicine. Her work in the lab focuses on ventral hippocampal circuits in the regulation of behavioral flexibility.

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Lauren Buck (Plyler), MS

Lab Manager


Lauren completed her Master's in Neuroscience in 2018 where she developed expertise in the use of mouse models to investigate neural function.

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Christina Curran-Alfaro, MS

PhD Candidate, Neuroscience


Christina completed her Masters in 2020 in biology with a concentration in neurobiology at Rutgers-Camden where her work explored circuitry involved in spatial memory utilizing a teleost model. In the Barker lab, she is expanding her work to investigate  changes in behavioral response associated with low-dose ethanol exposure. 


Laura Giacometti, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar


Laura completed her PhD with Dr. Ramesh Raghupathi in 2018, where her dissertation focused on sex differences in long term behavioral alterations following adolescent mild traumatic brain injury. She is building on her expertise in sex differences to investigate sex-specific effects of chronic ethanol exposure on astrocyte activity and its role in regulating reward seeking and depression-related behaviors.

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Meghan Hemdal

MS Student, Neuroscience

Meghan is currently working to complete her Master's degree in the Neuroscience program. Her research interest focuses on alterations in cellular mechanisms in a preclinical model of HIV.

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Toni-Shae Ledgister

MS Student, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences

Toni-Shae is a 2nd-year graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Health Science Master’s Program at DUCOM. Toni completed a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University in Pre-Sports Medicine. Toni aspires to be a practicing physician and is building on extensive clinical experience by conducting work in the preclinical laboratory setting.

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Mark Namba, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar

Mark completed his PhD in Neuroscience under the mentorship of Drs. Janet Neisewander and Foster Olive at Arizona State University, where his primary focus was unraveling neuroimmune mechanisms of motivated behavior and the impact of HIV on cue-induced drug seeking. As a postdoctoral researcher in the lab, Mark will be building upon his expertise in behavioral pharmacology and addiction neurobiology to examine the role of glutamatergic and neuroimmune mechanisms in cocaine craving using translational rodent models of comorbid HIV and cocaine use disorders.

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Mitch Nothem, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar

Mitch completed his PhD with Dr. James Barrett in 2020, where his dissertation focused on the effects of peripheral nerve injury and gabapentin on cortical pain processing. His postdoctoral work will focus on the interaction between chronic pain and substance use disorders.

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Delaney Place

PhD Student, Pharmacology and Physiology

Delaney completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Spanish at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2020. She conducted postbaccalaureate research in the lab of Dr. Aron Lichtman focusing on neurocognitive and behavioral processes within the endocannabinoid system. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in Pharmacology and Physiology with specific interests in neuropharmacology.

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Christine Side

Research Assistant

Christine completed her BS in Biochemistry and BA in Psychology at Rowan University. She aspires to get her Ph.D in Neuroscience and is interested in research involving the neural substrates of substance use disorder.

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Qiaowei Xie, MS

PhD Candidate, Pharmacology and Physiology

Qiaowei has returned to the lab to complete her PhD in Pharmacology and Physiology. Her research focus is neural circuit dysregulation in preclinical models of HIV.

Interns and Undergraduate Researchers

Former Lab Members

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Isabella Agyapong

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow, 2018

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Brittanie Bland, MS

Master's student, Drug Discovery and Development, 2018


Juliette DiFlumeri

Undergraduate Researcher, 2020

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Laura Figueroa, MS

Master's student, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, 2020

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Fatima Fleming

Pathway to SuperNOVA, 2022

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Brianna Hamilton

NeuroHIV T32 Trainee, Summer 2019

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Fangyi Huang

Master's student, Drug Discovery and Development, 2020

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Briana Johnson

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow, 2019

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Wenhan Lu

Master's student, Drug Discovery and Development, 2018

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Yue Lu, MS

Master's student, Drug Discovery and Development, 2021


Jessie Nagle

Master's rotation student, MCBG 2020

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Harsha Ohri

Rotating Student, Neuroscience PhD Program, 2018

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Binay Singh

Drexel Co-op student, 2020-2021

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Kaitlin Smith, MS

Master's student, Master of Laboratory Animal Science Program, 2018


Sam Stine, MS

Master's Student, Drug Discovery and Development, 2022

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Michelle Willis

Medical student, NeuroAIDS T32 Fellow, 2021

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