Research Associates


Qi Zhang, M.D./Ph.D., Senior Research Associate

Inherited retinal degeneration is a group of heterogeneous eye diseases that cause blindness in human patients and animal models. I have been working in this field since my postdoctoral research, which involved genetic mapping of disease loci, searching for mutations responsible for eye disease phenotypes, genetics/genomics genotype analyses and diagnosis, study of gene function with natural or engineered mutations in animal models (knockout, knockin and knockdown), and gene therapy. As a scientist, I have a broad and in-depth knowledge of molecular/cellular/developmental biology, genetics/genomics, human disease modeling in animals, neuroscience and neurodegenerative diseases along with technical expertise in genetic linkage mapping, analyses of DNA/RNA and sequence data, vector design and construction, protein assays, cell culture, pathology, and microscopy.


Kyle Fisk, B.S., Research Technician

I received my bachelors degree in Biology with a concentration in Molecular and BioMedical Sciences from Bridgewater State University in 2014. I went on to work at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA with Dr. Roger Hanlon. My work at the MBL gave me the opportunity to explore my fascination with microscopy (both light and electron), which I applied to imaging the intricate neural systems in cephalopods that allow these animals to produce complex behavioral displays in milliseconds. Currently, I am developing new applications of volumetric super-resolution microscopy for studying synaptic structure and refinement in the mammalian retina and dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus.




Chenghang Zhang, B.S., Biophysics Graduate Student

I'm a student in the biophysics Ph.D. program in UMD. When I was an undergraduate I used optical imaging and modeling to study calcium dynamics and downstream calcium signaling pathways in non-excitable cells. Investigating periodic activities in cell signaling is one of my research interests. Now I'm working on imaging techniques and image processing in the lab. I'm learning more about neurobiology and my current job is to process STORM images of neuronal cells and develop new approaches for automated image analysis. 


Undergraduate Student Researchers


Sim Bastakoti, Undergraduate student in Behavioral and Social Sciences College

I am currently a Junior at University of Maryland, majoring in Psychology and General Biology with minors in Neuroscience and Spanish. My interests include researching the impacts of genetic or pharmacological manipulations on plasticity of visual circuits and the various biochemical processes at play in brain-related disorders and aging. I aspire to pursue a MD/PhD in Neuroscience in the near future.  


Elissa Klein, Undergraduate student in Physiology and Neurobiology

I am primarily interested in neurobiology and looking to finish my undergraduate with a major in physiology and neurobiology. I then hope to go to either medical school or graduate school to do clinical research on neurological disease.


Principal Investigator


Colenso M. Speer, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology

Faculty member:

Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS)

Biological Sciences Graduate Program

Biophysics Graduate Program

I am privileged to pursue my passions for structural imaging, neuroscience research, and teaching. I am excited to support the next generation of neuroscientists and help them achieve success in their independent careers. Together, we are working toward exciting new discoveries that advance our understanding of neural circuit development, plasticity, and dysfunction in neurodevelopmental and degenerative diseases. 



  1. Yalun Yu, B.S., Biophysics Graduate Student, Fall 2017 (Rotation)
  2. Abeerah Qadir, Undergraduate student in Biological Sciences (Fall 2017)
  3. Nan Zhang, Undergraduate student in Biological Sciences (Fall 2017-Spring 2018)