Researcher | Research Overview
Brielle received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in 2012. There, she majored in Cognitive Science, with a concentration in neuroscience, and a minor in bioethics. She did her PhD research at Drexel University College of Medicine, in the lab of Wen-Jun Gao. During her thesis, she focused on understanding basic mechanisms of cognitive function in the prefrontal cortex, and how those processes might erode in the context of psychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia and autism-spectrum disorders. Brielle explored how the thalamus regulates the prefrontal cortex (PFC) to optimize abilities like working memory, cognitive flexibility, and social interaction. This work was funded by an internal grant through Drexel University, the Dean’s Fellowship for Excellence in Collaborative or Themed Research, as well as a predoctoral National Research Service Award (F31).
During Brielle's graduate work, she became fascinated with the thalamus for its importance in supporting so many fundamental cognitive processes, and curious how activity in thalamocortical circuits could become hijacked to result in other pathological conditions. This led her to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of John Huguenard, an expert in the field of epilepsy research, as well as normal mechanisms of thalamocortical function and synchrony. Her work was funded by the Stanford College of Medicine’s Dean’s Fellowship, a postdoctoral National Research Service Award (F32), and ultimately a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award. She developed an attention task for characterizing circuit mechanisms of attention dysfunction in genetic mouse models of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. In her lab, she will explore the role of prefrontal inhibitory microcircuits in attention as well as their disruption in disease.