Current Members

Principal Investigator

Yun Zhang [E-mail: yzhang(at), Yun Zhang_CV]: Yun grew up in northeastern China. As a child, she thought to be a writer and published her first story at age 10. She got interested in physics, chemistry and biology in high school and went to Peking University to study Molecular Biology and Biochemistry as a college student. She then moved to the America and completed her PhD study in 2002 in Marty Chalfie's lab at Columbia University. Yun did her postdoctoral research in Cori Bargmann's laboratory at Rockefeller University, where she discovered and established the assay for the aversive olfactory learning in Caenorhabditis elegans. Yun is now a Professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and the Center for Brain Science at Harvard. Yun uses the olfactory system in C. elegans to study how neural circuits regulate learning.  

Postdoctoral Researchers

Adam K. Bahrami [E-mail: bahrami(at), Download_CV]: Adam completed his Ph.D. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University studying genetics and evolution of host-pathogen interactions.  He currently studies the genetic and neural basis of reproductive strategy variation in C. elegans. His work has shown that C. elegans hermaphrodites actively choose between crossing with a male or reproducing through self-fertilization, identified natural variation in this choice among wild isolates, and begun to circumscribe the neuronal architecture underlying this behavior. Adam has received support for his research from The Microbial Sciences Initiatives and The Mind Brain Behavior Initiatives at Harvard University. In addition, Adam is a popular teacher and project leader in the LS100r Experimental Research in the Life Sciences course aimed at training undergraduates in research methods.

Gareth P. Harris [E-mail: Gazalad2(at)]: Gareth earned his Masters degree in the United Kingdom at Salford University, where he began research in C. elegans by investigate bacterial pathogenesis in the nematode. Gareth moved to the US to earn his PhD from the University of Toledo, Ohio where he studied the role of monoamines and neuropeptides in neural circuit modulation underlying sensory mediated behavior in C. elegans. As a Postdoctoral fellow in the Zhang laboratory, he now investigates the neural mechanisms underlying olfactory preference among food odors, where he uses a combination of molecular genetics, neuronal manipulation and physiology studies to address his goals.

Konstantinos Kagias [E-mail: kkagias(at), Download_CV]: Konstantinos holds a BSc degree in Biology (2004) and a MSc degree in Microbial Biotechnology (2006) from the Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece). During PhD studies (2006-2009), he focused on the mechanisms of cell reprogramming in Jarriault laboratory (IGBMC) at the University of Strasbourg (France). In his previous post-doctoral research (2010-2013), he studied the role of miRNAs in cellular stress responses in Pocock laboratory (BRIC institute) at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark). Konstantinos joined the Zhang laboratory (2014) at Harvard University keen on understanding more about the neuronal mechanisms of animal behavior.

Jing Ren [E-mail: rrjing85(at)]: Jing completed her PhD in the State Key Laboratory of Neuroscience, Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences. In her PhD study, Jing used fruit fly D. melanogaster as a model to explore long-term effects of nicotine exposure on neuronal functions. After joining the Zhang laboratory, Jing has developed confocal calcium imaging to study neuronal properties in moving animals and applied the method to study the dynamic encoding of perception and memory in a C. elegans chemotaxis circuit. She now studies how a corollary discharge resemblance regulates learning. The study has implication in the mechanisms underlying self-recognition and pathology of neurological diseases, such as schizophrenia.

Myung-kyu Choi [Email: mgm9(at)]: Myung-kyu did his PhD study in the Seoul National University at Korea. He is broadly interested in neural basis of behavior, particularly experience-dependent behavioral plasticity. During his PhD research, Myung-kyu, in collaboration with another graduate student, characterized the neuronal regulation of nictation in C. elegans. To do this, he developed a PDMS-based "artificial dirt" and used this novel and quantitative assay to reveal the molecular and neuronal basis of the ecologically relevant behavior. Myung-kyu will join us as a postdoc scholar in the fall of 2014. 

Graduate Students 

Yu Serena Shen [E-mail: shenyupku(at)]: Yu graduated from Peking University in China with a BS in Biological Science in 2008. In the Zhang lab, Yu has used forward genetic approach to characterize a novel signaling pathway in olfactory learning. She also combines intracellular calcium imaging in live animals with quantitative behavioral analysis to study the functional property of the neural circuit underlying olfactory learning. Yu is a devoted and award-winning TF and has taught MCB 54 (Cell Biology), OEB 145 (Genes and Behavior) and OEB 223 (Topics in Neurogenetics).

Jingyi Yu [E-mail: jingyiyu(at)]: Jingyi graduated from Peking University in China with a BS in Biological Sciences in 2009. In the Zhang laboratory, she has discovered a novel osmotic stress behavior in C. elegans. She currently studies the neural mechanism of this behavior with molecular and cellular genetic approaches. She is interested in understanding how the the underlying sensorimotor circuit regulate this ecologically relevant behavior. Jingyi has rich experience in teaching neuroscience-related courses, including MCB 80 (Neurobiology of behavior) and OEB 223 (Topics in Neurogenetics).

Bicheng Han: Bicheng went to Korea advanced institute of science and technology (KAIST) for his undergraduate study, where he majored in Mechanical Engineering (Biomechanic Division) with a second major in Technology and Business Management. During his undergraduate study from 2007 to 2011, Bicheng worked in four different laboratories for independent research, including Biomaterials & Biomechanics Laboratory, Advanced Packaging and Thin Film Laboratory, Korea Institute of Machinery and Material (KIMM) and Applied Nano-tech & Science Laboratory. After he graduated from KAIST, Bicheng worked at Basic sciences division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, as a full time researcher. He has been working on several projects investigating the role of amines in integrating sensory inputs to produce behavioral outcomes by using the model organism C. elegans. Bicheng is interested in sensorimotor circuit and its experience-dependent plasticity.

Lab Managers

Shane Smith [E-mail: ssmith.anthony(at)]: Shane graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelors degree in Biochemistry. He is Interested in the area of biotechnology with an emphasis on stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. In the Zhang laboratory, Shane provides essential research reagents and maintains the C. elegans strain database. 

Undergraduate Researchers

  • Julia Nguyen (Harvard College 2014): Senior thesis - Sexual differences in olfactory learning
  • Samuel Wallis (Harvard College 2014): Senior thesis - Analyzing circuit properties for odor preference and plasticity
  • Connie Zhong (Harvard College 2014): Senior thesis - Characterizing the roles of excitatory and inhibitory inputs in C. elegans gait control

Previous Members

Postdoctoral Scholars

  • Dr. Michael Hendricks (2008-2013)                Assistant Professor, McGill University, Canada.
  • Dr. Linjiao Luo (2011-2013)                            Associate Professor, Nanjing University, China.
  • Dr. Heonick Ha (2006-2012)                           Pattern Specialist, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Graduate Students 

  • Dr. Yuqi Rose Qin (2007-2013), PhD             Postdoctoral Scholar, Biogen Idec, MA.
  • Dr. Zhunan Chen (2007-2013), PhD               Statistician, Liberty Mutual, MA.
  • Dr. Xiaodong Zhang (2007-2012), PhD          Consultant, McKinsey & Co.   

Undergraduate Researchers

  • Vivian Yeoung                                              Harvard College 2014
  • Nicolas Maffey                                             Harvard College 2013
  • Shane Smith                                                Northeastern University 2012  
  • Alessandra Donato                                       Armenise-Harvard summer fellowship, 2012 summer
  • Sarah Zhang                                                Harvard College 2011
  • Arash Gharib                                                Harvard College 2011
  • Ruby Ibanga                                                 Harvard College 2010
  • Colleen Carlston                                           Harvard College 2009
  • Sarah Bourne                                               Harvard College 2007