top of page

Our Team


Dr. Jessica J. Walsh (she/her)

Principal Investigator 

Dr. Walsh is dedicated to understanding the neural circuits underlying motivated behaviors and their dysfunction in psychiatric diseases. She hopes that this will aid in the development of new therapeutic targets to help people who suffer from these disorders. Her journey began at Columbia University volunteering in Dr. Gerald Fischbach's laboratory and earning her B.A. in Neuroscience & Behavior. During her graduate work, she explored the neural circuit mechanisms underlying social stress susceptibility and resilience phenotypes in Dr. Ming-Hu Han's laboratory at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Prior to joining the faculty at UNC, she completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, under the guidance of Dr. Robert Malenka, where she sought to investigate the neural circuit mechanisms and synaptic functions in genetic mouse models with social deficits. 

UNC P&N Directory photo_Mihalkovic_edited.jpg

Abby Mihalkovic (she/her)

Research Technician 

Abby received her B.S. in Psychology from SUNY Plattsburg and her M.A. in Psychology (behavioral neuroscience) from the University of Buffalo. She is interested in understanding how stress can impact behavioral outcomes and the neural circuits that underlie potential behavioral impairments. Her past preclinical and clinical experience investigating addiction, including genetic and psychosocial risk factors of substance abuse, has made her a wonderful addition to the team!


Emma Taleb (she/her)

Research Technician 

Emma received her B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is interested in understanding the neurochemical basis of behavioral impairments present in neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder and ADHD. She is also interested in functional connectivity and the potential of certain psychoactive compounds to alter neuronal activity and behavior. In the Walsh Lab she is looking forward to using molecular and genetic tools to answer these questions.  


Ruby Ashman (she/her)

Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Ruby is a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill, majoring in Chemistry. She is interested in the therapeutic and medicinal use of potent and broadly acting psychoactive compounds, such as MDMA and psilocybin. She hopes to gain an understanding of the neurological pathways involved in social impairments present in a variety of neurological disorders, and how these drugs can be used to develop new treatment options. Volunteering in the Walsh Lab has helped her pinpoint her interest of pursuing a career in research. 


Niccolo Luftig (they/them)

Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Niccolo is a first-year undergraduate at UNC majoring in Neuroscience. They are interested in the neural circuits that underly emotion, motivated behavior, and conscious cognition, and hope to conduct research on these concepts in the future. Additionally, Niccolo is interested in applying their interest in artificial intelligence and machine learning to neuroscience research, which is what brings them to the Walsh Lab. They hope to one day use new concepts found in neuroscience research to advance the abilities of artificial intelligence and its development.

Lab Alumni


Khondamir Imomnazarov (he/him)

Summer Undergraduate Intern

Khondamir is a rising senior at Grinnell College, where he studies Biochemistry and Neuroscience. He is interested in molecular biology, pharmacology, and neuroscience. Impressed by the range of novel techniques the Walsh lab uses to record, activate, and depress the activity of neural circuits, he joined the lab to gain insight into the research of psychiatric disorders and neuropharmacology on a circuit level. 

bottom of page