Faja Laboratory | Student Interns

Graduate Student Interns

Aiko Jones headshot

Aiko Jones

Aiko graduated from the University of Southern California (fight on!) in 2020 with two Bachelors of Arts degrees, one in psychology and the other in East Asian languages and cultures. She is currently a master’s student in the Mind, Brain, and Education (also known as educational neuroscience) program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During her time as an undergraduate, Aiko had many experiences involving the intersection of language, education, and psychology. While studying abroad in Japan, she designed and taught English language learning activities for children with developmental disabilities. She is interested in further exploring the intersection of language, education, and the brain sciences and is excited to be able do this in the Faja Lab. She hopes to one day inform educational practice with robust research and help bridge the gap between researchers and educators. In her spare time, Aiko enjoys doing yoga with her partner, studying languages, drinking tea, and watching videos of her favorite YouTuber saving kittens.

Brigid Kennedy headshot 

Brigid Kennedy

Brigid Kennedy graduated from Harvard University in 2021 with a major in neuroscience and a minor in psychology. Brigid worked in the Faja Lab throughout her time at Harvard and completed her honors thesis in the Faja lab. The thesis investigated the role of distraction in the effortful control of preschool age children with autism. She also had the opportunity to present these findings at the 2021 International Society for Autism Research conference. A passionate rower for Harvard, Brigid can be found rowing on the Charles River as often as possible. Next year Brigid will be attending graduate school at the University of Cambridge to study the health outcomes of individuals with autism.

Undergraduate Student Interns

Allison Pellegrino headshot

Allison Pellegrino

Allison is currently a first-year student at Boston College and intends to double major in neuroscience and mathematics. She is interested in psychiatry and hopes to eventually conduct research on developmental and psychiatric disorders. In high school, Allison dedicated a large portion of her time to tutoring students who struggle with executive function and face challenges in the classroom, so she is excited to participate in research at the Faja Lab. Allison also pursued ballet pre-professionally in high school and still loves to dance as a hobby. Outside of school, Allison is trying to learn to play the piano and loves to play with her family’s dog, Pablo!

Bella Schichter headshot

Isabella ‘Bella’ Schichter

Isabella is a current sophomore at Emmanuel College majoring in neuroscience and biology with a psychology minor. Having had a childhood friend with ASD, she is excited to be apart of the IDEA and CRUSH projects, examining the presentation of executive functioning in children and creating a program to help young adults navigate romantic and sexual relationships. During high school, she spent a year tutoring an elementary schooler with English comprehension and language challenges. Outside of the lab, Isabella holds executive positions for multiple on-campus organizations and works for an administrative office. In her spare time, she enjoys watching Netflix, eating out with friends, and listening to music.

Dhruval Thakkar headshot

Dhruval Thakkar

Dhruval is currently a senior at Wheaton College majoring in Biology on the pre-medical track, along with minoring in Psychology. Before joining the lab, he has worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for the last three summers as a Student intern/researcher in different surgical departments, through which he has realized his love for working with kids. At Wheaton, he works in a research lab with Dr. Robert Morris, his mentor, and advisor. Through his research in the lab, Dhruval had the opportunity to learn about ciliated cell signaling types in zebrafish cardiac regeneration. He has also done work on a COVID writing team through which he received acknowledgement on the paper - Correlation of Humidity and Temperature with COVID-19 Transmission: A Systematic Review of Published Literature. He is excited to work at Faja lab and have the opportunity to explore his interest in the relationship between human behavior and the brain while learning about the impacts of all the factors that influence our behavior. In his spare time, he loves playing sports like cricket and American football, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

Faith Ye headshot

Faith Ye

Faith is currently a sophomore at Tufts University where she’s majoring in biopsychology. Before coming to the Faja lab, she worked as a homework tutor to elementary school students and a violin tutor to middle school students. She’s excited to be a part of the Faja lab where she can continue to work with children and pursue her interest in studying neuroscience. Outside of the lab, Faith works as an EMT and she enjoys hiking and hanging out with friends.

Leah Kirsch headshot

Leah Kirsch

Leah is a rising senior at Tufts University where she is majoring in Cognitive & Brain Science and Child Study & Human Development. At Tufts, Leah is an undergraduate research assistant at the Crehan Lab, studying social development and access to educational and healthcare services for people on the autism spectrum. She also volunteers as a health educator with Peer Health Exchange, teaching a comprehensive health education in ninth grade classrooms across Boston Public Schools. Leah has always had a passion for developmental science, and she discovered a love for working with neurodiverse populations through volunteering at a youth recreation and rehabilitation center in her hometown of the San Francisco Bay Area. She is so excited to learn more about clinical presentations of ASD and interventions to best support autistic children. Leah hopes to continue studying the intersection of social development and brain function by pursuing a career in clinical neuropsychology. In her free time, Leah loves exploring the outdoors and spending time with her beloved dog, Luna.

Matt Armstrong headshot

Matt Armstrong

Matt is a rising senior at Boston College and majors in natural sciences in the Woods College of Advancing Studies. Matt was diagnosed with ASD when he was a senior in high school and has always been interested in supporting those who struggle with ASD like himself. Previously, Matt has worked with children as a swim instructor and also currently works at a restaurant, where he is a cook. In his spare time Matt enjoys running, going to Orleans Firebirds baseball games, and drumming in the Boston College Marching Band.

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Meagan Tsou

Meagan is currently a senior at Northeastern University majoring in behavioral neuroscience with an American Sign Language (ASL) minor. While at Northeastern, she has volunteered at the Center for Cognitive and Brain Health and worked at the Wall Lab at Stanford University while on co-op. At the Center for Brain and Cognitive Health, Meagan worked as a research assistant to the studies researching the effects of lifestyle choices and health behaviors on the brain and cognition. While at the Wall Lab, she aided in the research towards alternative methods of diagnosis, treatment, and interventions for children with autism and related developmental delays. Over the years, she has pursued her interest in developmental pediatric neuroscience and hopes to continue this passion after graduating. Meagan is excited to work at the Faja Lab and continue learning about how research can advance developmental medicine. In her free time, she loves to listen to music, rock climb, and go on walks with her dog, Pepper.

Rachael Chiao headshot

Rachael Chiao

Rachael is a current junior at Boston University majoring in biomedical engineering on the pre-medical track. Rachael has known since high school that she wants to go into pediatrics. Prior to BU, she led summer camps focused on public health for young children in rural Nicaragua. Rachael previously interned at Boston Children’s Hospital and recruited patients for studies within the Sports Medicine Division. At BU, Rachael is the music director of her a cappella group as well as president of BU’s Half-Asian People’s Association. Rachael is incredibly excited to have the opportunity to work closely with children along with being able to contribute to pediatric research that works toward developing interventions that can support the future of those with ASD.

Reeda Iqbal

Reeda Iqbal

Reeda is a rising senior at Harvard College studying cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. Having a younger sister with ASD, Reeda is passionate about helping families and children with ASD. She is excited to be part of the IDEA study and to strengthen her scientific and clinical understanding of ASD in young children. Previously, she has worked with children with neurodevelopmental conditions in the foster care system. Outside of lab, Reeda volunteers as a student advocate for the Advocating Success for Kids (ASK) program at Boston Children’s, where she supports families with special needs children and serves as the co-chair of her House Committee. Reeda hopes to pursue a career in child and adolescent psychiatry, and to serve as an advocate for children with neurodevelopmental conditions from underserved communities in the future.

Sucika Perumalla headshot

Sucika Perumalla

Sucika is currently a sophomore at the University of Connecticut majoring in physiology and neurobiology, with a bioinformatics minor. In the future, she hopes to either become a neurosurgeon or pursue a Ph.D. in neuropsychology. Through participating in the IDEA project, Sucika hopes to learn more about EEGs, enhance her coding skills, and comprehend the aspects of brain development for children diagnosed with ASD through a clinical perspective. At UConn, Sucika is a student researcher in the Markus Lab, where she analyzes the Hippocampal activity of rats in response to novel trajectories and smells. In her free time, Sucika loves to explore Indian dance forms, is an advocate for children’s rights as an intern at the Student Coalition for Human Rights, and enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Sam Dvorak headshot

Sam Dvorak

Sam is a rising junior at Harvard College studying neurobiology. He loves working with children, and hopes to pursue a career in pediatrics. Sam is thrilled to be working with the Faja Lab, and is eager to gain research skills while learning more about the developing brain and behavior. His previous research experience includes processing electron microscopy (EM) images for a connectomics project with the Engert Lab at Harvard University. Outside of the sciences, Sam is very involved with music and theatre. He enjoys playing the piano, performing magic, and working on musicals.


Sundar Sruthi headshot

Shruthi Sundar

Shruthi is a rising junior at Wellesley College majoring in Neuroscience. At Wellesley, she is a student researcher in the Wasserman Lab, where she is learning about the adaptive behavior of Drosophila fruit flies and the neural pathways that allow this model organism to integrate sensory information. Outside of academics, Shruthi is on the executive board for Wellesley for Boston Children’s Hospital (WBCH), an organization that coordinates volunteering events that benefit patients and their families. She also serves as the co-president for Hear Your Song Wellesley, a non-profit organization that empowers children and teens with serious illnesses to make their voices heard through collaborative songwriting. She is excited to work at the Faja Lab and learn about how individual differences in development among patients with ASD can impact treatment responses. She would love to apply what she learns in the lab to a career in pediatric neurology. In her free time, Shruthi enjoys singing, playing the piano, and going on beach walks with her dog.