Principal Investigator

John A. Gray, M.D., Ph.D.

B.S. in Biochemistry, Case Western Reserve University
Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Case Western Reserve University
M.D., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Residency in Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco
Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of California, San Francisco

I am interested in understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in synapse function and plasticity and how these processes may be disrupted in neurological and psychiatric disorders. I earned my PhD in the laboratory of Bryan Roth at Case Western Reserve University (now at UNC) examining the mechanisms underlying the desensitization and downregulation of serotonin 5-HT2A receptors. Then, during my clinical training in psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, I became interested in the synaptic basis of neuropsychiatric disorders and pursued postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Roger Nicoll, where I expanded my repertoire of experimental techniques to include those of a neurophysiology laboratory, examining the role of NMDA receptor subunit function in early synaptic development.

Postdoctoral Scholars

Shekib Jami, Ph.D.
B.S. in Physiological Sciences and Neuroscience, UCLA
Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology, UCLA

Learning and memory, specifically the process of how and where long lasting memory is stored in the brain, is fascinating to me. In particular, I am interested in understanding the synaptic mechanisms responsible for memory formation in the hippocampus. In my graduate work with Thomas O’Dell, I found that enhanced activation of SK-type K+ channels in ventral hippocampus strongly suppresses NMDA receptor activation and accounts for the reduced ability to induce long-term potentiation at ventral Schaffer collateral to CA1 synapses relative to the dorsal hippocampus.

When I am not in the lab, I enjoy working out, backpacking, camping, rock climbing and photography and when there is nothing left to do outside you can always find me watching UCLA sports. GO BRUINS!

Graduate Students

Jonathan Wong - Neuroscience Graduate Group
B.S. in Biochemistry and Spanish, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI

Memory is fundamental to the human experience and results from dynamic structural and biophysical changes between individual brain cells. Memory-altering illnesses are thought to disrupt these dynamic processes and preferentially decrease communication between cells. My project investigates newly characterized functions of the NMDA receptor which influence synaptic depression and how these functions might lead to the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Outside of the lab, you can find me engrossed in urban planning and architecture, tending my chickens, and touring by bicycle, backpack, motorbike, or canoe.

Eden Barragan - Neuroscience Graduate Group
B.S. in Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine

I am a graduate student in the Neuroscience program here at Davis. I joined the Gray Lab in 2016 after graduating from UC Irvine. My research interests involve investigating the role of the NMDA receptor in synaptic plasticity and development. In my spare time I enjoy binge watching TV, running, pretending I am a photographer and hanging out with friends.


Haley Martin
I am a fourth year Genetics and Spanish Major at UC Davis. My research interests center around the study of neurological diseases. After I complete undergrad I hope to enter medical school or continue to study genetics in a graduate level program. In my free time I enjoying traveling, running, and spending time with my friends and family.

Zaiyang "Sunny" Zhang
I am a fourth-year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior (NPB) major, and my research interests focus on the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind neurodegenerative and psychotic diseases, especially ones involving memory dysfunction such as Alzheimer’s disease and Schizophrenia. Currently, I am helping with projects in the lab examining the functional and structural characteristics of NMDA Receptors that regulate LTP and LTD. I also have a strong interest in integrative medicine and am an active member of the UC Davis Western Equestrian Team.

Casey Sawyer
I am a second year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major with an interest in neurodegenerative disorders. After college, I hope to enter into the medical field or pursue a graduate degree in the field of Neuroscience. Outside of school, I enjoy continuing my musical training by singing or playing piano, or watching Netflix and movies with my friends. I am also involved in a professional fraternity on campus where we organize leadership events, such as volunteering at Shriners Hospital.


Julie Culp
Staff Research Associate

Aaron Illathu
Junior Specialist

Kevin Yin

Meaghan Paganelli, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Scholar

Prior Rotation Students

Lindsay Cameron
Spring 2017