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INI names 3 undergraduate Summer Scholars

Three University of Iowa undergraduates, Daniel Fu, Arshaq Saleem, and Kartik Sivakumar, have won the 2021 Iowa Neuroscience Institute Summer Scholar Awards.

The INI Summer Scholar Program supports Iowa undergraduates planning to pursue research during the summer in the lab of an INI faculty member. As INI Summer Scholars, the students receive a stipend of $5,000 and have the opportunity to attend a summer undergraduate seminar series and a variety of informal events. The INI Summer Scholar application process is highly competitive, and Fu, Sivakumar and Saleem stood out for the quality of their research plan, mentor endorsement, and academic performance.

Daniel FuFu works in the laboratory of Rory Fisher, PhD, professor of neuroscience and pharmacology. His project focuses on the role of a protein called RGS6 in regulating adult neurogenesis following exercise. Based on previous work by Fisher and others, Fu hypothesizes that RGS6 stimulation of neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus can combat neuropathology as well as learning and memory loss seen in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. His work could strengthen the case for RGS6 as a therapeutic target in human neurodegenerative disorders.


Arshaq SaleemSaleem works in the laboratory of Michelle Voss, PhD, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences. His research will assess the role of the cerebellum in bipolar disorder, using resting state fMRI data. Saleem will test whether and to what degree cerebellar connectivity with emotional control networks is disrupted in bipolar patients, and how these connectivity differences vary with mood states from mania, to euthymia, to depression.



Kartik SivakumarSivakumar works in the laboratory of Kumar Narayanan, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology. The lab recently identified non-canonical projections between basal ganglia structures associated with Parkinson’s disease, and hypothesize that these play an important role in motor function and cognition. Sivakumar will use cell-type-specific optogenetics to study their role on interval timing, a cognitive control process, and motor behavior. This project could help inform therapeutic targets to manage Parkinson’s-related cognitive and motor dysfunction.


Psychiatric and neurological disorders are devastating to individuals, their families, and society. Created with the transformative grant of $45 million from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, the INI seeks revolutionary discoveries in fundamental neuroscience to translate an understanding of how the brain works into clinical treatments for disorders of the brain and nervous system.


Wednesday, March 31, 2021