INI names 3 undergraduate Summer Scholars

Three University of Iowa undergraduates, Brianna Blaine, Mostafa Telfah, and Lydia Watkins have won the 2024 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 Blaine, Telfah, and Watkins stood out for the quality of their research plans, mentor endorsement, and academic performance. In addition, Telfah was named the Kwak-Ferguson Summer Scholar, an award supported through an endowment by UI alumnus Don Timm.

Brianna Blane, Summer ScholarBlaine works in the laboratory of Banu Gumusoglu, PhD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and psychiatry. Her project focuses on placental extracellular vesicles (ECVs,) which readily cross the placenta into the fetal brain and are changed by diseases of pregnancy such as preeclampsia. She will investigate the impacts of ECVs on cerebral organoid and human neurodevelopmental outcomes.


Mostafa Telfah, Summer ScholarTelfah works in the laboratory of Rodica Curtu, PhD, professor of mathematics and is co-mentored by Kumar Narayanan, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology. His project analyzes electroencephalography (EEG) human brain data collected from participants performing an interval timing task – a task in which they were required to estimate an interval of several seconds by making a motor response. He is comparing timing responses from participants with Parkinson’s disease and healthy controls.


Lydia Watkins, Summer ScholarWatkins works in the laboratory of Isabel Muzzio, PhD, the Ronnie Ketchel Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences. She is working to understand how the brain translates experience into memory, specifically focusing on the inhibitory projections between the auditory cortex and lateral amygdala, studying long term fear memory with complex sounds.


The Iowa Neuroscience Institute builds on the university’s decades-long tradition as a leading center for the study of neuroscience, promoting interdisciplinary collaboration and supporting innovation in foundational, translational, and clinical research.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024