Welcome to the Kenney Lab!

We study the neural and molecular basis of individual differences in behavior and brain function. 

We're located in the heart of Detroit, MI at the Department of Biological Sciences at Wayne State University.

Recent Lab News


We welcome Evan DeFrancesco to the lab! He is joining us as a research assistant and will be working on a collaborative project we have with Dr. Susanne Brummelte as well as with our fishies. He's got prior experience as a bartender, so now you know who to go to for drinnks! Welcome Evan!

We also give a belated welcome to Ezra Roberts, a camera shy undergraduate who will be starting up experiments this summer.  Welcome Ezra! 


Neha started 2024 off with a bang 🍾! So far this year she has landed (1) a summer dissertation fellowship, (2) an honorable mention (and $250) for her poster at the Graduate Student Research Day, and (3) won a travel award to attend a workshop at the Allen Institute in Seattle. Way to go Neha! 👏🎉


The lab welcomes Talita do Carmo to the lab as a post-doc! She's interested in understanding how changes in the environment influence behavior and brain function.  Coming to us from Brazil, she has lots of experience working with fish, including a stint at the National Institute of Amazonian research! So cool! Welcome!


Tripathcara (Kla) joins the lab for a year as a visiting PhD student from Thailand. He's here to learn how to do 3D behavioral phenotyping in zebrafish. He's also interested in understanding how Jasmine, a part of traditional Thai medicine, affects behavior. 


Barbara and Justin present at the IBNS meeting in Niagara Falls in Canada. Was a great meeting, including a trip on the Hornblower to the base of the falls! Next time we'll try going over the falls in an oak barrel!


We welcome Dinh Luong to the lab! She fell in love with animal behavior after taking BIO5080 (Cellular Basis of Animal Behavior), and decided to join the lab as a research assistant. 

Welcome Dinh!


Our paper describing a simple and precise non-invasive approach to giving drugs to zebrafish is out! 

It is a gelatin-based feed that we can load up with drugs and the fish just love to eat. When warmed, it can be pipette into precise amounts. No more guessing how much drug you're giving your fish. 

Mikey likes it, he really does! 


The new year sees us welcome in two undergraduate to the lab: Ada Squires and Joe Gjonaj. 

Ada is a neuroscience major and can apparently make a mean cup of coffee (sounds like 'Nessy', our Nespresso machine, has some competition!). 

Joe is a biology major and claims to tell dad jokes that are worse than mine! 


We give a hearty welcome to Aliyah Goldson! She brings her boundless enthusiasm to the lab as a graduate student. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, she should be well acclimated to (or at least prepared for) our Michigan winters! 

We also say farewell to undergraduate Matheu Wong who graduated in the fall. We wish him the best of luck on his medical school applications!


We extend a warm welcome to Fatemeh Beigloo, a visiting scholar from Iran that will be joining us to learn about doing behavioral work in zebrafish!

Watch out, the fish are slippy!


Neha and Kush's paper on individual differences in zebrafish exploratory behavior is published in Biology Open!

Here, we show that the exploratory behavior of zebrafish falls into one of four different behavioral categories: bold, shy, active explorers, and wall-huggers (above). 

Check out the paper for more info and details on how we track our fish in 3D! (below) 


We welcome two new undergraduates to the lab: Dea Kanani and Adina Kanan! Dea will be working on individual differences in behavior with Dr. Barbara Fontana and Adina will be helping to make sure our fish are happy and healthy. Welcome both! 


Ever wonder if fish have personalities? Well, turns out they do! Check out our paper posted to BioRxiv for the deets! This work was lead by graduate student Neha Rajput with an assist from a precocious high schooler, Kush Parikh. 


We welcome to Barbara Fontana who is joining us as a post-doc with extensive experience in zebrafish behavior! She comes to us from Brazil by way of a masters working with Denis Rosemberg at Universidad Federal de Santa Maria in Brazil, and a recently completed PhD with Matthew Parker at the University of Portsmouth. We're excited for her to join the lab, and give her a hearty welcome to the US, Michigan, and Wayne State! 


The new year sees us say goodbye to two undergrads (farewell Saba and Kris! We'll do a proper farewell once Omicron subsides), and hello to another. Matheu didn't get enough of neuroscience after BIO4690 (cellular/molecular neurobiology), and has joined the lab to get his neuroscience fix. Welcome! 


We've expanded our zebrafish facility thanks to our recently awarded R35 NIH grant! 

Thanks to Eric and Tom from Aquarius Fish Systems and Aquatic Enterprises for the great install...Hope to see them both again whenever in person conferences resume!


AZBA (adult zebrafish brain atlas) is officially published! This 5+ year long project began in Paul Frankland's lab with Patrick Steadman, and was finished with the help of Thomas Mueller at Kansas State University and several amazing Wayne State Undergraduates! Explore it at azba.wayne.edu!


We give a hearty welcome to the newest member of the lab: "Nessy". Watch out, she likes to party all night long! 


AZBA (adult zebrafish brain atlas) is on the web (azba.wayne.edu)! Check it out! This sweet website was put together by Kris Covert, one of the stellar undergraduates in the lab. Well done Kris!


Alexa joins the lab! She is an undergraduate studying neuroscience and the former captain of her high school swim team, so watch out if she challenges you to a swim duel!


The lab has been awarded an R35 ESI MIRA award from NIGMS to support our research for the next five years! Check out the nice write-up put together for the departmental webpage


Kris Covert, undergraduate web developer extraordinaire, joins us from the computer science department. He has been toiling away at getting AZBA (adult zebrafish brain atlas) up online! He has also been interning at Little Caesar's. Make sure to hit up Kris for some discounts on your next order of "pizza pizza"! 


We give a hearty welcome to Kush Parikh! He is a precocious high school student going into his sophomore year (that wasn't a typo!) that has taken on a remote coding project over the summer and will continue working with us throughout the school year. Think he'll get carded when we hit the pub? No matter...welcome!


We welcome Kailyn Fields to the lab! She comes to us as an undergraduate in the Physics department. She began in the lab over the summer as part of the Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Program and will be continuing her work in the lab as part of her recently awarded MARC scholarship! Oh yea, and I think she also wins the award for brightest hair in the lab!


Jake Hudock (pronounced who? doc!) joins the lab as a research assistant. He had so much fun in BIO4690 (cellular and molecular neurobiology) that he stuck it out volunteering remotely through the first part of the year. Now he'll be diving right into working with the fish!  


Congrats to previous graduate student, Muntasir Rahman, for landing a job as a research associate at Bial Biotech! He'll be working on developing treatments for Parkinson's Disease!


Several exciting developments for some of our undergraduates:


Our paper describing the creation of AZBA (adult zebrafish brain atlas) was recently posted to bioRxiv. This comes on the 25th anniversary of Mario Wullimann and colleagues publishing the first atlas for adult zebrafish in book form!

AZBA was started in the Frankland Lab with Patrick Steadman and continued in the Kenney Lab with Maris Polanco and some of our amazing undergraduates: Meng Ting Shi, Olivia Young, and Saba Dubaishi! We also teamed up with a world expert in zebrafish neuroanatomy, Thomas Mueller, from Kansas State University. 

Don't forget to turn on the sound when listening to the video! :-)  



Congratulations to Muntasir for successfully defending his MS thesis! He is the first MS student to graduate from the lab! Well done!


Congratulations to Olivia! She recently accepted an offer from the University of North Texas Health Science Center to join their PhD program in Biomedical Sciences this upcoming Fall! 

We're going to miss your chameleon hair!