Three graduate students named Lacroute Fellows | OHSU Foundation

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The Lacroute Fellows Program invests in School of Medicine graduate education, by supporting exceptional students performing innovative research in the Vollum/OHSU Neuroscience Graduate Program.

Congratulations to the 2022 fellows:

  • Danica Bojovic, Mishra and von Gersdorff Labs
  • Natasha Warikoo, Schnell Lab
  • Tin Long Yiu, Zhong Lab

These 1-year fellowships cover $24,000 of the student’s stipend and provide an allowance of $1,000 for related expenses, such as attending scientific conferences or courses.

Ph.D. student Danica Bojovic earned a B.A. in biology and French with a neuroscience concentration from Grinnell College in Iowa in 2019. She is jointly mentored by the labs of Anusha Mishra, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology, OHSU School of Medicine, and Henrique von Gersdorff, Ph.D., senior scientist, Vollum Institute. For her doctoral thesis, Bojovic is investigating how gap junction-dependent astrocyte coupling mechanisms contribute to neurovascular coupling under normal conditions, and how a reduction in astrocyte gap junctions may decrease neurovascular coupling after stroke.

“I was very excited and happy because this is the first science fellowship I ever got,” said Bojovic. “It made me feel good about my science and gave me confidence to pursue my project. Aside from easing the financial burden of my mentors for my stipend, the Lacroute Fellowship is giving credibility and high potential to my thesis project and to me as a scientist. It is exactly what I needed to get on the ‘map’ for future publications and grant applications.”

M.D./Ph.D. student Natasha Warikoo earned a B.A. in philosophy, neuroscience and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., in 2016. She is mentored by the lab of Eric Schnell, M.D./Ph.D., associate professor of anesthesiology, OHSU School of Medicine. For her doctoral thesis, Warikoo is examining the role of endogenous opioid peptides in modulating hippocampal circuitry. Her work aims to determine the extent to which opioid peptides control network excitability in the hippocampus by modulating pre-and post-synaptic function, and how these systems can be altered in the context of disease, specifically epilepsy.

“I felt incredibly honored to receive this award,” said Warikoo. “It is especially meaningful to me as the nomination and selection comes from our own faculty, people I respect and trust deeply. I am humbled by such a vote of confidence, and excited to continue to unravel the mystery of how endogenous opioids modulate hippocampal circuitry in the brain. I also look forward to meeting and thanking Ms. Lacroute in person for all her generosity. Her support of the sciences in this way directly helps us in the lab, giving us the financial support and security to maximize our training. We are all grateful for the support!”

Ph.D. student Tin Long Yiu earned his B.Sc. in neuroscience with first class honours from University College, London, in 2019. He is mentored by the lab of Haining Zhong, Ph.D., scientist, Vollum Institute. For his doctoral thesis, Yiu is investigating how the cerebellum mediates non-motor behaviors in a mouse model, in particular looking at how cerebellar computations are influenced by neuromodulation during learning.

“I am thrilled and honored to be selected as a Lacroute fellow,” said Yiu. “It means a lot to me that my ideas resonate with others and are being recognized. Moreover, currently there are very limited funding opportunities from typical agencies such as NIH and NSF for international students like me. I am grateful that Ms. Lacroute provides generous support to students at OHSU regardless of nationality as long as the research is exciting. This award motivates me to work harder on my project and supports me to attend different conferences and summer courses, which will further increase the breadth of my technical concepts and skills as a neuroscientist.”

Students are nominated for the Lacroute Fellows Program by their mentors and selected for their scholarship excellence and promising research. The Lacroute Fellows Program is funded by a generous philanthropic gift from Ronni Lacroute. This year, Lacroute’s donation funded two Lacroute Fellows; additionally, through a match from the OHSU Foundation Sprint for Students campaign, a third Lacroute Fellow was made possible.