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our members

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Prakash Kara, PI

pkara at umn dot edu

Prakash comes to the University of Minnesota from the Medical University of South Carolina where he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. He is renowned for his work in visual perception, optical imaging, and the field of neurovascular coupling. His major discoveries appear in several issues of the most prestigious scientific journals including Nature and Science. Prakash holds a B.S. and M.S in Physiology from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and earned a Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Alabama-Birmingham along with a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University.


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Arani Roy

aroy at umn dot edu

When not sampling the newest craft beer at a local brewery, Arani likes to spend his time pondering the principles of circuit formation in the brain.  He has used intra- and extra-cellular recordings, multiphoton imaging and optogenetics to study the development and functioning of neural circuits in songbirds, macaques, and ferrets.  Currently, he is busy building a 3-photon imaging system to investigate how neural activity along the entire cortical column of cats leads to hemodynamic responses that are the basis of BOLD fMRI signals.


J. Forrest Olsen

karalabmanager at umn dot edu

Forrest is a passionate researcher of biopsychology, neurotechnology, and beyond. His previous experience includes pairing electrical stimulation of the human brain with cognitive gameplay to enhance fluid intelligence, identifying hormonal changes upon the visual detection of disease, and being the songwriter/lead singer of a professional punk rock band for six years. As Lab Manager, he proudly supports the Kara crew in exploring the mysteries of the brain.


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Chao Liu

chliu at umn dot edu

Chao obtained a B.S. in Optical Engineering from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China. Before joining the Kara lab, Chao finished his Ph.D. training in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, where he used optical imaging to study brain connectivity, neurodegeneration and brain cancer. He is now exploring the interesting questions in visual neuroscience and neurovascular coupling using the state-of-the-art multiphoton microscopy at the Kara lab.


Deano Farinella

farin012 at umn dot edu

Deano majored in Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Minnesota before going to the University of California at Irvine for a Masters and PhD in Physics. His PhD research included computational and experimental laser physics, where he developed and implemented ultrafast laser pulse compression techniques. Deano is responsible for the design, testing, integration, and maintenance of new optical modules that expand the capabilities of our existing systems to probe brain function.


Anthony Simons

simo0951 at umn dot edu

Anthony is an undergraduate neuroscience major at the University of Minnesota. In the Kara Lab, he is learning the principles of multiphoton microscopy and in vivo calcium imaging. In the future, Anthony plans on investigating areas in affective neuroscience and neuropsychology.


Philip O’Herron. Postdoctoral fellow in the Kara lab at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) from 2011–2017. In 2018 he became an Assistant Professor at Augusta University.

Manuel Levy. Postdoctoral fellow in the Kara lab at MUSC from 2010–2015. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Duke University.

Pratik Chhatbar. Postdoctoral fellow in the Kara lab at MUSC from 2011–2014. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at Duke University.

Zhiming Shen. Postdoctoral fellow in the Kara lab at MUSC from 2008–2012. He is currently an Associate Investigator (Professor) at the Institute for Neuroscience at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai China.

Adrien Schramm. Postdoctoral fellow in the Kara lab at MUSC from 2011–2013. He is currently a senior fellow at the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epinière, Paris France.

Zhongyang Lu. Postdoctoral fellow in the Kara lab at MUSC from 2008–2010. He is currently a Senior Staff Scientist in the Department of Medicine at MUSC.

Jamie Boyd. Postdoctoral fellow in the Kara lab at MUSC from 2006–2007. He is currently a software developer and systems neuroscience oracle at the Center for Brain Health, University of British Columbia Canada.

Luke Westlake. Histology technician in the Kara lab at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the University of Minnesota (UMN) from 2018-2019. He is currently attending nursing school.