Team

Principal Investigator: Alessandra Porcu

Alessandra received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2012 at University of Cagliari, Italy. She then obtained her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2016 from University of Cagliari and University of Basel, Switzerland where her research focused on pharmacological characterization of GABAB and CB1 receptors' modulators. Alessandra joined the Department of Psychiatry at University of California San Diego in 2016, where she performed her postdoctoral research studying light-induced neurotransmitter plasticity and clock dysfunctions in mood disorders. In 2020, Alessandra received the K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the NIH-NCCIH to study the effect of light on amygdala plasticity and emotion-related behaviors. She started her lab in the Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences at University of South Carolina, College of Pharmacy in June 2022.

Outside the lab Alessandra loves to spend time at the beach, traveling, and cooking.

Lab Manager: Alexandria Atkins

Alex graduated from the College of Charleston in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She received her Master degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in 2019. Alex was born and raised in Greenville, SC, along with an identical twin sister. Alex is passionate about health and she wants to have a meaningful impact on the lives of others and help advance the field of science.

Her hobbies include drawing/painting, yoga, and spending time with family and friends.



Undergraduate Research Assistant: Janhvi Kartik

Janhvi is a current sophomore at the University of South Carolina Honors College pursuing a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, with a minor in neuroscience. She is from Irmo, South Carolina. Her research interests include sexual dimorphic responses to environmental lighting in the amygdala and regulation of anxiety-like behaviors.

In her free time, Janhvi enjoys dancing and traveling.

Janhvi received the Honors College Research Grant in December 2022.

Undergraduate Research Assistant: Lily Quick

Lily is currently a sophomore at the University of South Carolina Honors College pursuing a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Neuroscience. She is from Jacksonville, Florida. Lily is very interested in the study of psychological disorders and has a passion for helping others, which is why she hopes to be a neurosurgeon.


Lily loves going to the beach, yoga, and hanging out with her family and friends.






Undergraduate Research Assistant: Yatin Nerella

Yatin is currently a Junior at the University of South Carolina Honors College pursuing a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor in Neuroscience. He is from Anderson, South Carolina. His current research interests include the effect blue light exposure on the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus regulating memory impairment and circadian rhythm in mice.

In his free time, Yatin enjoys reading and exercising.

Yatin received the Honors College Research Grant in December 2022.



PostBac Research Assistant: Susannah Spoto

Suzy is currently a registered immunizing pharmacy technician interested in pursuing a career in pharmaceutical science. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2017. During her bachelor’s degree she worked as a research assistant for a neuroscience lab where she helped to program stimuli using MATLAB for visual perception experiments.

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, she completed prerequisite coursework for medical school where she fell in love with chemistry and worked as a tutor for general and organic chemistry. This interest in chemistry led her toward a career in pharmacy. She is interested in applying her knowledge of Python used in robotics toward data analysis in the lab.

Outside the lab, Suzy’s hobbies include reading, writing, nature walks, and robotics.




Lab Mascot: Leo

Leo is an English Cocker Spaniel. He is two years old, and he loves to play with his ball, frisbee and wood sticks. Leo will join the lab to support the team when an experiment fails, after a rejection and to celebrate the happy moments.


Please send us your CV if you have a passion for

neurobiology and circadian rhythms!