Meet our Members

Avi Adhikari,

Associate Professor of Psychology (K99 and R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health, NARSAD, Berry and Hellman Foundations awardee). 

Avi completed his Bachelor in Science degree at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, majoring in chemistry and biochemistry and won the Antoine Lavoisier award for highest grades in the graduating class. He then obtained his Ph.D at Columbia University with Profs. Josh Gordon and Rene Hen in 2011, and then worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Prof. Karl Deisseroth at Stanford University until 2016. Avi joined the Department of Psychology at UCLA in 2017 to study how the brain controls fear. Avi’s hobbies include playing guitar, eating seafood and painting.

Fernando M. C. V. Reis,

Postdoctoral Researcher (Two-time NARSAD award winner, Friends of Semel Award).

After obtaining his PhD at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, in 2015, he joined Prof. Newton Canteras’ Lab (USP, São Paulo) as a postdoc with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) scholarship. He is presently a postdoc in Dr. Adhikari´s Lab at UCLA studying the neural systems and mechanisms underlying fear and defensive responses. He likes to play guitar during his free time.

Anita Torossian,

PhD Student (NIH F31 Awardee)

Anita received her B.A. in neuroscience and psychology from CUNY Queens College in 2017. Afterwards, she conducted post-baccalaureate research at the NIH where she examined brain protein synthesis in mouse models of autism-like disorders. In the Adhikari Lab, she is investigating the neural circuits underlying fear, anxiety, and other defensive responses. In her free time, Anita enjoys playing piano and eating anything sweet.

Blake Alec Miranda,

PhD Student (Cota Robles Award, NSF GRFP award, F31 fellowship (declined))

Blake earned his B.S in Cognitive Science with a concentration in Neuroscience from UC Irvine in 2018. He then joined the UCI Translational Neuroscience Laboratory under Dr. Michael Yassa, where he studied Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in high-risk older adults using fMRI. In the Adhikari Lab, he is investigating how discrete midbrain neurons control complex behavioral responses to threat and prey. When not in the lab, he creates digital art, runs a freelance science communication business, and practices piano for an hour every day.

Nitish Patel,

PhD Student (Graduate Dean Scholar Award)

Nitish received his B.S. in neuroscience from UCLA in 2023, where he worked in Dr. Michael Fanselow’s lab studying both the molecular and behavioral components of fear learning. Currently in the Adhikari Lab, he is using optogenetics and fiber photometry to explore how specific neurons in the midbrain drive distinct feeding behaviors. Outside of the lab, Nitish loves playing soccer, riding his longboard, and trying out new recipes. 

Anita Liu,

Masters Student

Anita received her B.S. in Physiological Science and Neuroscience from UCLA in 2023. During her undergraduate studies, she worked in Dr. Michael Fanselow’s lab investigating the sex differences in fear learning. Currently, in the Adhikari Lab, she is studying the midbrain circuits underlying feeding behaviors. In her free time, Anita enjoys playing the guitar and ukulele.

Catherine Bloom,

Undergraduate Research Volunteer 

I’m Catherine and I’m a second year psychobiology major at UCLA. I joined Avi’s lab to gain a better understanding of the brain and what happens when we inhibit certain neural pathways. In my free time I love to read, watch TV shows, and listen to Taylor Swift.