Lab Members

Charlotte Sydney Yes NoCharlotte Freeland PhD’21: I am pursuing my PhD in Biology with a concentration in Neurobiology & Behavior, starting in the fall of 2016.  My primary research focus examines the underlying mechanisms of risky decision-making, particularly what happens when these mechanisms go awry to cause excessive desire and motivation to pursue risky choices, as seen in drug and gambling addiction. I graduated from the University of Connecticut Honors Program with a B.S. in Physiology and Neurobiology and then came to Wesleyan University as the Lab Manger in the Robinson Lab.  As the first graduate student in the Robinson Lab, I grateful and thrilled for the opportunity to shape the direction of our research projects, cultivate scientific curiosity in our undergraduate researchers, and (hopefully) inspire future generations of female scientists.

Carli Poisson

Carli Poisson ’18: I am a junior and have been with the Robinson lab for over a year. I am originally from Bangor, ME, but made the trek 6 hours south to study at Wesleyan. I work as a lab manager and student researcher. I am particularly interested in the neuroscience of drug and food addiction, and how the two are related to one another but also distinct. This summer I worked at the University of Texas at El Paso in the SMARTMIND program studying how a high fat diet changes dopamine systems in the brains of rats, and how an omega-3 fatty acid supplement could prevent these changes. I am involved in reproductive health groups on campus and I am also a resident assistant. After Wesleyan, I plan on going to graduate school to continue neuroscience research.


ArielAriel Ben-Ezra ’18: I am a junior majoring in Neuroscience & Behavior. My research focuses on diet-induced obesity and its connection to decision making. Outside the lab, I am very active in the Wesleyan writing community and will be graduating with a creative writing certificate. I also enjoy reading, drinking tea, and coloring books. After Wesleyan, I hope to attend medical school and study psychiatry.


Vaishvi Jhaveri ’18: I am a senior Neuroscience & Behavior and Dance double major who is following the pre-med track. Currently in the Robinson lab, I am working on cryosectioning techniques to analyze the uptake of Channelrhodopsin-2 viral vectors in rats who have undergone optogenetic testing. Outside of lab, I am the president of the American Medical Student Association, a community of pre-medical students on campus, as well as the River Valley Services Partnership, a community service organization associated with Connecticut Valley Hospital. I also work as an EMT at the Cromwell Fire Department. In my free time, I like to dance with the Collective Motions dance group, hang out with my housemates, and sleep. After Wesleyan, I plan on going to medical school.


Ashley Wang ’18: I’m a senior majoring in Biology, completing a pre-vet track in hopes of becoming a vet. I have a strong interest in animal behavior and medicine, and have volunteered and worked as a veterinary assistant in animal hospitals in the past. On campus, I’m on the board of Asian American Student Collective in an effort to encourage discussion and action within the realms of AA identity and politics. I’m also an active leader in Students for Consent and Communication, hoping to spread awareness of sexual violence and ultimately build a community of support and empowerment. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, camping, gardening, cooking, and art.


Anna Knes

Anna Knes ’19: I’m currently a freshman planning to double major in Neuroscience & Behavior and Psychology. In high school, I worked in a neurobiology lab researching the effect of subunit Nicastrin in Alzheimer’s Disease. At the Robinson Lab, I look forward to learning more about motivation, reward, and its relationship to addiction. I also play on the Women’s Varsity Squash Team, and, in my free time, I enjoy making visual art, teaching myself photography, and volunteering as a math tutor for second graders.


John Cote

John Cote ’19: I’m a sophomore here at Wesleyan and grew up in Syracuse, NY. I’m majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior and minoring in Data Analysis. My current research focuses on the link between uncertainty and incentive value in rats, and I am excited to keep learning more about motivation and reward, and how it can effect behavior. I’m also on the Varsity Men’s Lacrosse Team, and for fun I love to read and learn about literature and poetry.




Callie Clibanoff

Callie Clibanoff ’19: I am currently a sophomore from Lower Merion (home to Kobe Bryant), Pennsylvania, and I am majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior. My research is looking at how uncertainty effects incentive versus predictive value of cues in relation to gambling. Outside of lab, I am very involved with dance on campus, as well as tutoring local Middletown children. I am also a kickboxing instructor at a studio in Middletown and love to exercise in my free time! After graduation I hope to do more research and go to medical school to become a neonatologist!




Maryyam Mian ’20:  I am a rising sophomore from Long Island, NY and I am planning to major in Neuroscience and Behavior while completing the pre-med track. On campus, I tutor young children and volunteer in local Middletown elementary schools to teach an after school science club. I am also a member of Wesleyan’s South Asian student group. In my free time I enjoy traveling with my family and reading. This summer I spent an amazing two months being introduced to the Robinson lab, and I look forward to learning more about how motivation and reward underlie risky decision making!


Danielle Vaamonde ’20: I am currently a sophomore from New York City planning to double major in Neuroscience and Behavior and Science in Society. As I am a new member, I look forward to learning more about motivation and reward in risky decision making. Outside of the lab, I like to figure skate, as I’ve been a competitive figure skater since the age of 8. I also enjoy dancing, cooking, and traveling around the world with my family.



Nita Rome ’20: I’m currently a sophomore from Lower Merion (same place as Callie ^) and I am ALSO planning on majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior. On campus, I am a biology tutor, member of Science Hall, and a staff photographer for the school newspaper. Running, film photography, and drinking coffee are my primary hobbies. I am so excited to be joining the Robinson lab this year, and look forward to staying for the summer!





Students conducting research in the laboratory will be investigating questions related to:

  1. The role of uncertainty in reward and motivation and its relation to gambling
  2. The impact of high-fat diets on generating excessive motivation for food related cues
  3. The role of motivation circuits in generating intense attraction and craving for natural and drug rewards.