Oh the places you’ll go!

August 1, 2023 | The time has come – we are saying goodbye to many of our founding lab members…The Smith Lab would not be what it is without all of you. Thank you to each and every one of you for spending the last couple of years dedicating yourself to our work and creating this inclusive, fun, and incredible lab environment. Watching you all learn, grow, change direction, and ultimately find your path has been such a fulfilling and rewarding experience. We are all so very proud- we can’t wait to see all the amazing things you will accomplish.

Here are a few highlights from our time together and some updates on where some of our Smith Lab team members are headed next.

Top Left: Lab lunch to kick off SfN 2022, from left to right: Julia, Sabrena, Samara, Monique, Mychaela, Izzy, Cali. Sabrena and Erin (Top Right), Julia (Middle Left), and Cali (Middle Right) presenting their posters at SfN 2022 in San Diego! Lower Middle: Sabrena, Dr. Smith and Cali (Bottom Left), and Kamilla, Jie, Sabrena, Cali, Gunraj, Shane, and Dr. Smith (Bottom Right) at the end of the year get together in July 2023.


Sabrena joined the lab in January 2022 as a volunteer and part-time lab technician. She very quickly impressed everyone and became our full-time mouse caretaker and lab tech at USD. She came to the lab with an interest in understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – and wowed Dr. Smith with her own insightful, brilliant ideas on how to look at empathy in mouse models of ASD.

Her work in the lab is represented by authorship on our STAR Protocols paper and an upcoming paper that is in preparation. She also presented at Society for Neuroscience (SfN) 2022, and will present again this year at SfN in Washing ton D.C.!

Sabrena moved with the lab to UCSD in January 2023 and has been invaluable in setting things up here. She has taken on the work of at least 3 people and yet still shows up every day with a smile. Her enthusiasm, hard work, and talent are an inspiration to us all!

Sabrena is headed to the Master’s program in Psychology at San Diego State University where she will continue to study ASD in humans! We will miss you more than words can describe!


Cali started off as a student in Dr. Smith’s Biopsych class in Fall 2021 (the very top student ;D) and was immediately enamored with neuroscience. Due to their compelling discussions during office hours, Dr. Smith knew she had to convince Cali to join the lab. Luckily Cali agreed and her journey in research and science began.

Cali became a part of almost every project and jumped at the opportunity to help with the STAR Protocols paper. She also spent the summer at Stanford University working with Dr.Ben Rein in the lab of Dr. Rob Malenka on a collaborative project that will be submitted for publication soon.

Cali also moved with the lab to UCSD in January 2023 and became a part-time technician- for this, she took on the extraordinarily difficult task of helping keep Dr. Smith organized and helped create and implement platforms and processes that have been foundational for the lab.

Cali is headed to work on a Master’s in Biotech at Brown University, where she will conduct research and also work at Harvard for a year! Cali – we are so proud, and do not know what we will do without you!


Erin was the very first student in the Smith Lab! She has seen it all- she was there to unpack the first boxes and when the mice finally arrived. She ran some of the first experiments and trained all the following students who joined.

Erin came to Dr. Smith in Fall of 2021 with an unwavering desire to pursue a PhD in neuroscience. Dr. Smith was immediately impressed by her intelligence and commitment to science, and asked her to be the first member of the lab — and then immediately Dr. Smith realized she did not even have onboarding procedures yet– So Erin and Dr. Smith worked on the STAR Protocols paper for which Erin would eventually become the second author! Dr. Smith could not have asked for a more dedicated, patient, and talented first student. Erin, thank you for setting the stage for the Smith Lab and giving us something to aspire to!

In Fall 2022, Erin presented her work at SfN 2022 while also applying for graduate programs across the country. And we are so proud to say that this Fall she will be headed to Washington D.C. to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience!!

Despite being an East Coast-er at heart, we hope you will come back to visit us in San Diego Erin! Hopefully the Smith and Jones labs will collaborate someday 😉

Thank you to ALL of the former Smith Lab students- you were the founding members! We will miss you dearly, and remember that there is always a place for you here!

The very first Smith Lab picture in 2022 with Julia, Cali, Sabrena, Monique, Andre, Cassidy, Erin, and Nicole.

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