Lab Personnel

Erin Hecht

Erin E. Hecht, Ph.D. | Assistant Professor


Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
Office location: Museum of Comparative Zoology, Room 535C 
Mailing address: 11 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
erin_hecht@fas.harvard.edu
Google Scholar  |  ResearchGate  |  The Canine Brains Project

Dr. Hecht received her B.S. in Cognitive Science from the University of California San Diego in 2006, and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Emory University in 2013.  Before moving to Harvard, she was a Research Scientist in the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Georgia State University, and an Affiliated Scientist at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University.  Dr. Hecht joined the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University in January 2019.  Her lab studies brain-behavior evolution in dogs, primates, and humans.  She has two Miniature Australian Shepherds, Lefty and Izzy, who are mostly good.

   

Munawwar_AbdullaMunawwar Abdulla, B.S., M.S. | Research Technician and Laboratory Manager

mabdulla@fas.harvard.edu  |  LinkedIn

Munawwar Abdulla received her Bachelor of Medical Science degree from the Australian National University and her B.S. and M.S. in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of New South Wales, where she used behavioral tests, immunohistochemistry and microscopy to study mechanisms and treatments of neuropathic pain and peripheral neuropathy. She continues to use these skillsets in support of the work at the Evolutionary Neuroscience Lab. In the outside world she enjoys agonising over her translations of Uyghur literature, and working in Uyghur advocacy and community building.

 

sophie_barton

Sophie Barton, B.S. | Graduate Student

sbarton@g.harvard.edu    |   Curriculum Vitae

Sophie earned her B.S. in Psychology and B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Georgia in 2019. She is a third-year PhD candidate in the Human Evolutionary Biology Department of Harvard University. Her research investigates how selection for complex behaviors shapes the brains of domestic dog breeds and other canids. Sophie began working with the Canine Brains Project as an undergraduate student researcher. She draws inspiration from her rescue dog Tamsin, an Australian Shepherd x Labrador Retriever mix, who helps pilot her studies.

 

 


Mira SinhaMira Sinha | Graduate Student

mirasinha@g.harvard.edu

Mira obtained her B.S. in Biology at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. She is a first-year Ph.D. candidate at the Human Evolutionary Biology department at Harvard University. She compared the neural representation of social cognition in humans and non-human primates at Utrecht University and is excited to continue investigating how sociality has impacted human brain evolution during her graduate studies. You can find her playing soccer, singing jazz, and trying out local restaurants in her free time.

 

 

 

 

Julia EspinosaJulia Espinosa, Ph.D. | Postdoctoral Fellow

jespinosa@g.harvard.edu | Curriculum Vitae

Julia received a B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan, a M.S. in Animal Bioscience from the University of Guelph, and subsequently an M.A./Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Toronto. As an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Julia will be unpacking the socio-cultural determinants and physiological bases of dog aggression, combining techniques from neuroscience, genetics, psychiatry, and ethology.

 

 

 

SuhasSuhas Vijayakumar, Ph.D. | Postdoctoral Fellow

vijayakumar.suhas@gmail.com | Curriculum Vitae

Suhas obtained a bachelor's degree in physics, maths, and electronics before deciding to take his chances in the field of neuroscience. He pursued a cognitive neuroscience master's at Radboud University in the Netherlands and continued there to do a PhD at the Cognitive Neuroecology Lab of the Donders Institute, where he compared the parietal-frontal brain network of macaques and humans. He has mainly used neuroimaging techniques to study the brain and is generally interested in knowing what makes human brains (and consequently humans) different from all of the other animals. At Hecht lab, he will try to understand how does one's brain change as they learn and acquire new skills. Apart from neuroscience, he likes to think about science communication, education, and tech. He also sometimes plays badminton. Not very often, though. 

   

 

 

Jenny MichlichJenny Michlich | Research Technician

jennymichlich@fas.harvard.edu | Curriculum Vitae

Jenny received their dual Bachelor of Arts and Science degree in Anthropology and Neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh. Jenny currently splits their time between the Helou Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh and the Evolutionary Neuroscience Laboratory. Both of their projects are focused on quantitative analysis of the neuroanatomy of foxes/primates or involve creating 2D/3D reconstructions from histological tissue. Jenny’s primary research interests center around auditory-vocal-motor systems in nonhuman animals. In their spare time, Jenny enjoys reading philosophy of science books, Saturday trips to the beach, and hanging out with Moussa the rabbit and Sylvia the cat.

 

 

Hanna_McCuistionHanna McCuistion   |  Postgraduate Student Researcher

 

Hanna is a 2020 graduate from Harvard College with an A.B. in Human Evolutionary Biology and a Foreign Language Citation in Spanish. She is interested in a career in biological research with a focus on the development of personalized medicine for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. 

After graduating, she moved to Montevideo, Uruguay, where she is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and working remotely for the Hecht Lab. Beyond biology, Hanna loves playing the guitar, learning new languages, and playing with her cat, Yeti. 

 

 

 

 

Sonya Ganeshram

Sonya Ganeshram | Undergraduate Student Researcher

sonyaganeshram@college.harvard.edu

Sonya Ganeshram ‘24 is an undergraduate at Harvard University studying Neuroscience on the Mind, Brain, Behavior track. An avid lover of dogs, she enjoys participating and working on various projects in the lab and spent this summer helping pilot behavioral studies with her service dog, Athena. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking and being an active member of the Harvard Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children. 

 

 

 

 

 

Oliver HolloOliver Hollo | Undergraduate Student Researcher

 

Oliver Hollo '23 is an undergraduate at Harvard College studying Integrative Biology and Environmental Science and Public Policy. He is from Bernardsville, NJ. Ollie spends his time on campus between his studies, training for the Varsity Men's Lacrosse program, and working for the Pre-Vet Society. Ollie's passion for understanding canine evolution comes from his background in working in Veterinary general practices from a young age. 

 

   

 

Eliza KalfellzEliza Kallfelz | Undergraduate Student Researcher

elizakallfelz@college.harvard.edu

Eliza Kallfelz ’22 is an undergraduate from Jamestown, Rhode Island. She is an undergraduate researcher, currently co-leading the Howling Study while pursuing an A.B. in Human Evolutionary Biology. She is a part of Harvard-Radcliffe’s Varsity Heavyweight Rowing team and is also a member of Harvard College’s student-led Athlete Medical Mentorship Program. When she is not studying or training, she enjoys sailing, swimming, and petting dogs. 

 

 

Katie SierraKatie Sierra | Undergraduate Student Researcher

katiesierra@college.harvard.edu

Katie Sierra ‘23 is a pre-veterinary student at Harvard College studying Integrative Biology from Northport, NY. Katie spends her free time on campus as a research assistant in Dr. Hecht’s dog behavior lab, conducting public service work with the Harvard College Conservation Society, and competing with Harvard Undergraduate Ethics Bowl. Katie is assisting with the lab’s canine MRI project, and currently completing a honors thesis in the lab. This thesis is a  comparative study of attachment behaviors in dogs and a tame strain of Silver Foxes from the Russian Fox Domestication Experiment in order to provide insight into the selective pressures leading to dog domestication.

 

 

 

 

Lauren DuffeeLauren Duffee, VMD, DACVAA | Veterinary Anesthesiologist

Curriculum Vitae

Lauren Duffee provides expert veterinary support to dogs during MRI scans at the Hecht lab.  She is an anesthesiologist at the Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital in Woburn, Massachusetts.  Lauren received her veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.  She then spent a year in the San Francisco area for a private practice equine internship before returning to the University of Pennsylvania to complete a three-year residency in veterinary anesthesia and analgesia in small and large animals.  Lauren is a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (ACVAA) and a member of the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA).  Outside of the hospital, Lauren enjoys gardening, travel, and hiking with her two corgis.

 

 

 

Andrea LooneyAndrea Looney, DVM, DACVAA, CCRP, DACVSMR | Veterinary Anesthesiologist

Curriculum Vitae

Andrea Looney provides expert veterinary support to dogs during MRI scans at the Hecht lab.  She received her DVM from Cornell University's NYS College of Veterinary Medicine in 1989.  Since then, she has become specialty trained and boarded in veterinary anesthesiology and pain management (Dip, ACVAA) & veterinary rehabilitation and sports medicine (Dip, ACVSMR).  She has served on staff at Angell Animal Medical Center, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and Cornell University`s Hospital for Animals in general and emergency medicine, anesthesiology, intensive care and rehabilitation.  Her current position is with Ethos Veterinary Health where she mitigates multi hospital anesthesia and rehabilitation/pain management for small animal patients.

 

 

Christina_CampbellChristina Campbell, CCRP, CVT   |   Credentialed Veterinary Technician 

Christina Campbell assists with veterinary care during MRI scans. She is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner as well as a Credentialed Veterinary Technician. She has over 15 years of experience in animal care, including examinations, surgeries, therapy, and client education. Christina has two dogs, Chloe and Serena, and two tabby cats, Weedge and Theo. She enjoys spending her free time outdoors, canoeing, camping, biking, and going on long walks with her dogs.

 

 

Graduate application information can be found on the HEB website.  Please email erin_hecht@fas.harvard.edu to enquire about postdoctoral, undergraduate, or technician positions.