Harris Lab

In Pursuit of Synapse Structure and Function...

The Laboratory of Synapse Structure and Function investigates the structural basis of learning and memory, synapse development, and the ultrastructure of synaptic plasticity using in vivo and in vitro preparations, hippocampal slice physiology, serial section transmission electron microscopy, and 3D reconstruction.

Current Lab Members at UT Austin

P.I.: Kristen M. Harris, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Neuroscience
Center for Learning and Memory
Institute for Neuroscience
The University of Texas at Austin


Kristen has served on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School, Boston University, and the Medical College of Georgia. She has been a Professor at UT Austin since 2006. More info and CV

John Mendenhall, MA 
Research Associate 


John joined Kristen Harris's new lab at UT in 2006. His main responsibilities in the lab are tissue preparations, multi-dimensional imaging, visualization, and analysis. 

Masaaki (Masa) Kuwajima, Ph.D.
Research Associate


Masa uses electron microscopy and immunolabeling methods to investigate subcellular structures that underlie brain cell functions in learning and memory, normal brain development, as well as in disease models. More info

Lyndsey Kirk, Ph.D.
Research Associate


Lyndsey is primarily interested in how synapses change with cognitive decline in aging. She uses a combination of animal behavior, genetics, physiology, and 3DEM to study the ultrastructural changes of synapses, astroglia, and subcellular organelles that occur and may contribute to loss of cognitive ability. 


Olga Ostrovskaya, Ph.D.
Research Scientist

Olga's specialty is in electrophysiology. Her current focus is the dynamics of neuronal ultrastructure in the context of learning and memory across different developmental stages.

Patrick Parker
Research Assistant / Course Specialist


Patrick assists in the 3D reconstruction of dendrites, with a focus on quantifying synapses and creating lab protocols to teach best uses of Reconstruct. He acts as the SynapseWeb administrator and Course Specialist for Prof. Harris's class.


Dakota Hanka
Research Assistant

Dakota aids in the 3D reconstruction and quantification of dendrites, axons, and other neuropil objects. His focuses are data collection, analysis, and developmental testing of new computational tools used in the lab.


Dusten Hubbard
Research Assistant


Dusten aids in the 3D reconstruction and quantification of dendrites, axons, and other neuropil objects. His focuses are data collection, analysis, and developmental testing of new computational tools used in the lab.


Anna-Maria E. Escherich, MS, PMP
Project Manager/Lab Manager

Anna-Maria is actively involved with the oversight of the NeuroNex NSF grant, as well as other NIH-awarded grants in the Harris Lab.  In addition, Anna-Maria is involved in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the lab.



Undergraduate Researchers:

  • Corey Haines
  • Mireya Mota
  • Julian Falco
  • Tommy Liu
  • Vivek Mathesh 
  • Mahija Ginjupalli
  • Soummitra Anand
  • Kaelin Rubenzer
  • Connor McKee
  • Elyse Haney
  • Priya Mahableshwarkar

Former Lab Members

Research Scientists:

  • Sergei Kirov, Ph.D.
  • John C. Fiala, Ph.D.
  • Bitao Shi, M.D.
  • Jennifer Bourne, Ph.D.
  • Larry Lindsey, M.S.
  • Guan Cao, Ph.D.
  • Edwin Vargas-Garzon, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellows:

  • Gordon M.G. Shepherd, M.D., Ph.D.
  • David Selig, M.D.
  • Patricia Suppes, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Frances Jensen, M.D.
  • Jared Bowden, Ph.D.
  • Beth Bell, Ph.D.
  • Deborah Watson, Ph.D.
  • Cailey Bromer, Ph.D.


  • Libby Perry
  • Robert Smith
  • Jamie Hurlburt, DO
  • Anusha Mishra
  • Marcia Feinberg, M.S.
  • Lara Petrak
  • Alex Goddard
  • Karen M. Szumowski
  • Clayton Smith

Graduate Students:

  • Marc Seid, Ph.D.
  • Linnaea Ostroff, Ph.D.
  • Mark Witcher
  • William Risher
  • Jennifer Salgado
  • Peter Sultan, M.D.
  • Paul S. Jackson, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Ann Clemens, Ph.D.
  • Andrea Haessly, Ph.D.
  • Michael Chirillo, Ph.D.
  • Seth Weisberg, Ph.D.
  • Heather Smith, Ph.D.

Undergraduate Students:

  • Rachel Ventura
  • James Cooney
  • Priya George
  • Sean Behounek
  • Amy Pohodich
  • Junho Ahn
  • Katherine Williams
  • Michael Musslewhite
  • Ryan Ellis
  • Mikayla Waters
  • Alyssa Herbort
  • Kate Dembny
  • Paola Gonzalez
  • Alyssa Herbort
  • Sindy Ventura
  • Marshall Drake
  • Masha Aseeva
  • Katie Hedgpeth
  • Alexis Pederson
  • Matthew Hooper
  • Aaron Luna
  • Kyle Zatyko

Current Collaborators

  • Wickcliffe C. Abraham, Ph.D.
  • Josef Spacek, MUDr, DrSc         
  • Mary Kennedy, Ph.D.           
  • Terrence J. Sejnowski, Ph.D.           
  • Tom Bartol, Ph.D.
  • James Carson, Ph.D.  

Past Collaborators

  • Daniel Johnston, Ph.D.               
  • Chandrajit Bajaj, Ph.D. 
  • Mike Ehlers, M.D., Ph.D.               
  • Mitya Chklovskii, Ph.D. 
  • Karin Sorra, Ph.D. 
  • Matthew A. Xu-Friedman, Ph.D.
  • Wade G. Regehr, Ph.D.
  • German Barrionuevo, M.D.
  • David B.T. McMahon, Ph.D.
  • Howard Eichenbaum, Ph.D.
  • Viktor Popov, Ph.D.
  • Yannan Ouyang, Ph.D.
  • David Kantor, Ph.D.
  • Erin M. Schuman, Ph.D.
  • Steven Finkbeiner, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Sohail F. Tavazoie, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Anna Maloratsky, M.D.
  • Kori M. Jacobs, Ph.D.
  • Michael E. Greenberg, Ph.D.
  • Ingrid Carlbom, M.S., Ph.D.
  • Demetri Terzopoulos, Ph.D.
  • James F.A. Traniello, Ph.D.
  • Ben Kater, Ph.D.
  • John Lisman, Ph.D.