The lab opened August 2020. We are hiring at all levels, please come join us at the University of New Mexico! Apply here.

Sam McKenzie, PI

I am interested in memory, neural plasticity, how neurons synchronize, and how signals are transformed within and between brain regions. I want to use what we have learned about normal hippocampal-cortical coupling to develop novel therapeutics to treat epilepsy. I completed my bachelor’s in neuroscience at McGill working with Véronique Bohbot, my PhD at Boston University with Howard Eichenbaum, and my postdoc with György Buzsáki at NYU . As of August, 2020 I am an assistant professor in the Department of Neurosciences at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Tia N. Donaldson, PhD Candidate

I am passionate about science and the brain and love sharing this with others. I completed my bachelor’s degree here at UNM and I am a proud Psychology Honors Program and Ronald E. McNair Scholars alumna. I completed a master’s degree at Northern Illinois University before returning to UNM as a PhD student in the Psychology department.

My research interests include spatial learning and memory and how the noradrenergic and dopaminergic systems influence learning. I love all things about the hippocampus and locus coeruleus and hope to apply my research to developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

Praveen Paudel, Master’s Student

I am interested in understanding how information is processed and represented in the brain. By using molecular, systems, and computational approaches, I want to study neural plasticity at the microcircuit scale. I am a master’s student in biology and my current research in McKenzie lab focuses on how extra-hippocampal networks “readout” hippocampal activity. 

Keith Baugh, Technician

I am interested in studying learning and memory as well as how different brain regions communicate. I have a passion for translational science and hope to contribute to the development of novel therapeutics to treat epilepsy. I completed my BS in cellular and molecular biology at Fort Lewis Liberal Arts College. Most of my previous research experience has focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of memory formation/regulation in the hippocampi. Eventually, I plan on applying to graduate school so I can fulfill my dream of running a lab. When not in the lab I like to hike and play videogames.. 

Erin Melendrez, Undergraduate Assistant

Erin Melendrez is a Junior at the University of New Mexico perusing a BA in Psychology. Her interests include Alzheimer’s disease and auditory learning. She is the login department manager at Hall Environmental and plans on attending graduate school after completing her studies at UNM. She is currently working on R and D for a study on category boundary perception.

Justine Zimmerly, PhD Rotation Student

I am a first-year PhD candidate with the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program (BSGP) at the University of New Mexico. I graduated from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology with my bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in psychology. My research interests include memory and learning, neurodegeneration, and any diseases that directly impact brain function.


Epilepsy, seizure-forecasting, closed-loop design, learning and memory, excitatory-inhibitory balance, neural plasticity, neural rhythms, coding and decoding.

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