Lab Members

We are currently not reviewing applications for new undergraduate researchers. If you are an undergraduate who is interested in working in our lab, you can place your application on file through this google form. Please do not email any of the lab members in addition to submitting this application. We will begin reviewing applications in the Spring 2021 depending on the UCLA stage of reopening due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For prospective graduate students or postdocs, please email Prof. Anne Andrews.

Principal Investigator

Anne Milasincic Andrews, Ph.D.

    • (310)794-9421
    • Dr. Andrews is Professor of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences and Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a member of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, the Hatos Center for Neuropharmacology, and the California NanoSystems Institute. Andrews received a B.S. from the Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the American University as a U.S. Department of Education Fellow and while working at the National Institute of Mental Health. She was later a postdoctoral fellow and senior staff fellow at the NIMH. There, Andrews discovered and characterized a novel serotonin neurotoxin, 2’-NH2-MPTP. She was also a member of the team that developed and characterized the first serotonin transporter-deficient mouse model (aka SERT knockout mice).
    • Andrews is a recipient of an NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award. She received a California Neurotechnologies Research Award, a NARSAD Independent Investigator Award, an American Parkinson’s Disease Association Research Award, an Eli Lily Outstanding Young Analytical Chemist Award, and an NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence, among others. She was Associate Editor for ACS Chemical Neuroscience and is currently a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and President of the International Society for Serotonin Research.


Olena Lukoyanova
  • Dr. Lukoyanova earned a B.Sc. in Pharmacy from Lviv Polytechnic National University (Ukraine) and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Clemson University under the supervision of Prof. Luis Echegoyen. Her Ph.D. research focused on design and synthesis of regioselectively functionalized fullerenes as well as studies of their electrochemical properties. Subsequently, she held a post-doctoral position in Prof. Dmitrii Perepichka’s group at McGill University (Canada) where she worked on design and synthesis of pi-conjugated thiophene-based materials with tailored electronic properties. She also held faculty positions teaching undergraduate students at the University of Regina and California Lutheran University. In Dr. Andrews’s group, Dr. Lukoyanova is developing methods to control and optimize the surface chemistry that involves linking aptamer biomolecules to the metal oxides surfaces of FET-biosensors.

Graduate Student Researchers

Merel Dagher

  • Merel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Molecular Toxicology program at UCLA. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in public health and cognitive science. She worked as a peer educator, designing workshops and researching content about stigma surrounding mental illness and violence. As a graduate student, Merel has taught introductory neuroscience classes and labs, a translational neurobiology course focused on drugs of abuse, and a psychiatry class about well-being. Her research in the Andrews’ group focuses on determining the effects of perinatal SSRI exposure in combination with maternal stress on long-term behavioral and neurochemical outcomes in offspring. She is also interested in how SERT expression affects fear and anxiety regarding ambiguous cues.


Sara Erwin

  • Sara is a Ph.D. candidate in the Molecular Toxicology program at UCLA. She received her B.S. from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, majoring in forensic and toxicological chemistry with a minor in biology. Sara interned at Lehigh Valley Toxicology Laboratory working on developing and validating a LC-MSMS method for free vs. total opioid detection in pain clinics. She also spent her summers during undergrad interning at the MIRECC behavioral health lab at the Philadelphia VA to help enhance the overall mental health care provided to Veterans. Her Ph.D. research in the Andrews’ group focuses on kappa opioid receptor modulation of the serotonin system as a mechanism for anxiety- and depressive-disorders. She is also working on determining the effects of perinatal SSRI exposure in combination with maternal stress on long-term behavioral and neurochemical outcomes in offspring.


Martin Hartel

  • Martin received a B.S in Nanoengineering from the University of California, San Diego in 2018. As an undergrad, he worked with Dr. Joseph Wang on the development of wearable enzymatic sensors. He is currently a Ph.D. student in the Bioengineering Department at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is co-advised by Dr. Paul Weiss and Dr. Anne Andrews. His research interests include developing improved microfluidic biochemical sensors for wearable and microphysiological systems. Martin is also interested in entrepreneurship and is currently an affiliate graduate student researcher at the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation. In his free time, Martin enjoys spending time camping and hiking but can always stay indoors with a good movie or game.


Liv Heidenreich

  • Liv is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemistry at UCLA. Liv studied as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee and graduated in 2015 with a B.S. in Chemistry and Mathematics. A Milwaukee native, her research interests in math began as a student in the BioMath program ( ) under the mentorship of Dr. Gabriella Pinter. To study the population dynamics of invasive bivalve species and the influence on nutrient cycling in Lake Michigan, stochastic modeling was employed to understand underlying processes given data collected from the lake. She also worked under Professor Joseph Aldstadt to develop an analytical chemistry method to study the kinetics of the Maillard Reaction. Separation and measurement of reaction mixtures over time were investigated to test the effects of conditions such as reactant concentration, pH, and ionic strength on the stages of sugar and amino acid crosslinking processes. As a Ph.D. student working under Prof. Anne M. Andrews and Prof. Paul S. Weiss, Liv is developing aptamer-based field-effect transistors incorporated into microfluidic flow systems, with a goal of creating reversible sensors to better understand neuromodulation pathways integral to behavior. Liv enjoys spending time painting.


Samantha Mensah

  • Samantha is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemistry at UCLA. Samantha received a B.S. in chemistry with a minor in nanoscience and technology at the University of Central Florida. Her undergraduate research was carried out under Professor Karin Chumbimuni-Torres for improvement of electrochemical clinical assays. Her work included improving the detection limits and applicability of paper-based ion-selective electrodes (ISEs), elucidating correlation between the coefficient of diffusion and monomer mass distributions in polymeric matrices, and detection properties of novel ionophores. In addition, her work in the lab of Professor Joseph Wang at the University of California San Diego explored wearable electrochemical sensors for metabolites and electrolytes, made by screen printing. She is currently co-advised by Professor Anne M. Andrews and Professor Paul S. Weiss for work on aptamer-based field-effect transistors, with the goal of neurotransmitter detection in vivo.


Noelle Mitchell

  • Noelle is a first year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She graduated from Pomona College in 2020 with a B.A. in Chemistry. At Pomona, Noelle worked under Professor Jane Liu on the structural determination of theophylline riboswitches using novel chemical probing methods. She began her research in the group of Professor Anne Andrews in the fall of 2021, working on the aptamer-FET project.


Cameron S. Movassaghi

  • Cameron is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry at UCLA. Cameron received his B.S. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016. As an undergraduate, he researched total synthesis of a chemotaxonomical marker isoprelaurefucin under Professor Michael T. Crimmins. He then completed a post-bachelor’s fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA where he developed high-throughput bioanalytical methods for targeted metabolomics studies of volatile organic compounds. In 2019, he began doctoral studies at UCLA in the group of Professor Anne M. Andrews. His research interests are in combining custom hardware and software for ultra-sensitive electrochemical detection of neurotransmitters in vivo.


Katie Perrotta

  • Katie is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemistry at UCLA. Katie graduated with a B.S. in both chemistry and neuroscience from Muhlenberg College, a small, private, liberal arts college in Allentown, PA. Her primary undergraduate research was performed under the co-mentorship of Drs. Christine Ingersoll and Jeremy Teissere. The collaborative project involved the chemical and pharmacological analysis of Passiflora incarnta in order to wholly understand its anxiolytic properties. Katie designed HPLC and ESI Spectrometry methods to characterize the flavonoid constituents in a commercially available passionflower extract. Flavonoids have been experimentally shown to act on the GABAA receptor, making them a prime candidate as the active chemical component of passionflower. In the lab of Anne Andrews, Katie will be using fast scanning cyclic voltammetry and microdialysis to monitor serotonin in vivo. She is also investigating the effects of maternal stress on long-term behavioral and neurochemical outcomes in offspring.


Undergraduate Researchers

Riya Pathare

  • Riya is a UCLA undergraduate student pursuing a major in physiological science and planning to graduate in Spring of 2021. After graduation, she plans to go to medical school and continue research. She is interested in how blocking and changing brain chemicals and cellular pathways affects moods and behaviors and seeing how these effects pass through generations.


Simmi Diwanji

  • Simmi is a UCLA undergraduate student pursuing a major in Neuroscience and a minor in Global Health. She is interested in neurotechnology, the development of bioFET sensors, and serotonin neurotransmission in vivo. Simmi plans to attend medical school after graduation and specialize in neuropsychiatric disorders.

Mila Wesely

  • Mila is a UCLA undergraduate majoring in Biology with a minor in Cognitive Science. She is interested in optogenetic techniques to discover cellular pathways affecting mood and behavior. Mila is also learning to use machine learning models to analyze complex data. After graduation, she plans on pursuing higher education and working in research or biotechnology.

Maya Curry

  • Maya is a UCLA undergraduate pursuing a major in Ecology, Behavior & Evolution and a minor in Evolutionary Medicine. After graduation, she plans to attend veterinary school specializing in aquatic animal medicine or neurology. Maya is interested in exploring the relationship between the chemical pathways of the serotonin system and other neurotransmitters in the brain to gain a deeper understanding of how mood and behavioral disorders develop.


James Kim

  • James is a UCLA undergraduate transfer student pursuing a triple major in Biochemistry with a computing specialization, Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics (MIMG), and Neuroscience. He is interested in machine learning models, analytical chemistry techniques, and utilizing MATLAB to improve the software utilized in the Andrews’ Group. After graduation, he plans on applying for M.D-PhD programs and gaining a deeper understanding of the human brain through artificial intelligence. Outside of research, James enjoys reading books, going to the gym, and visiting specialty coffee shops in Los Angeles.

Katherine Nguyen

  • Katherine is a UCLA undergraduate student majoring in Biochemistry. She is interested in studying and deepening her understanding of the serotonin system, its interactions with other neurotransmitters, and its role in anxiety and depressive disorders. After graduating, she hopes to pursue higher education and has her eyes set on continuing research. 

Audrey Nashner

  • Audrey is a UCLA undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Statistics. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. She is currently investigating the effects of administration of para-ethynylphenylalanine (PEPA) and para-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA) on amino acid and neurotransmitter levels in different brain regions. She aspires to research in the neurochemistry and pharmaceutical fields to develop novel treatments for brain disorders.