Fabricio H. Do Monte, DVM, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator 

Dr. Do Monte received his bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine from Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina in Brazil (2002), and his master’s and PhD degrees (general pharmacology and neuropharmacology) from Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Brazil (2006 and 2010), investigating the neural mechanisms regulating the expression of aversive memories. As a postdoctoral trainee in Dr. Gregory Quirk’s lab at the University of Puerto Rico, Dr. Do Monte investigated the neural circuits involved in the retrieval and extinction of fear memories. He became an Assistant Professor in the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in December 2016. Dr. Do Monte’s hobbies include playing soccer and chess, watching movies, walking his dog, and traveling to exotic destinations. 

Guillermo Aquino-Miranda, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow


Dr. Guillermo Aquino-Miranda received his bachelor degree in Psychology from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) of Mexico, and his master’s degree in Neurobiology from Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV-IPN) of Mexico. Guillermo completed his PhD training in Biological Sciences in Metropolitan Autonomous University, Mexico City. His PhD thesis focused on understanding the interactions between dopaminergic and histaminergic systems in the prefrontal cortex using a rat model of schizophrenia. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Do Monte Lab, Guillermo is investigating how corticothalamic circuits regulate decision-making processes by using optogenetics and electrophysiological recordings in freely behaving animals. While not in the lab, he enjoys running and exercising outdoors, reading novels, and watching baseball games.

Milagros Marín, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Marín earned a B.S. in Biochemistry (Molecular Biomedicine) and an M.S. in Translational Research and Personalized Medicine from the University of Granada (Spain). Bridging the gap between Informatics and Biochemistry, her PhD thesis (2021) used system biology approaches for a better understanding of complex diseases, and optimization algorithms to develop biologically efficient neuronal models using realistic firing dynamics from cerebellar granule cells. Dr. Marín received a one-year postdoctoral fellowship that funded her research in Dr. Javier Medina’s lab at Baylor College of Medicine. In the Do Monte Lab, she is applying pose estimation algorithms and advanced computational analyses of behavior and electrophysiological recordings to understand the mechanisms that regulate approach-avoidance conflict in rats. Outside of the lab, Milagros enjoys lifting things with varying levels of success (powerlifting), eating out and watching movies.

Michelle Melgarejo da Rosa, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. da Rosa has a bachelor's degree in Pharmacy from the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Brazil, and a master's degree in biochemistry with a focus on learning and memory from the same institution.  She completed her Ph.D. training in Molecular Neuroscience studying the role of synaptic-nuclear trafficking proteins on synaptic plasticity at the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, Magdeburg, Germany. Dr. da Rosa is an Assistant Professor at the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), Brazil where her lab investigates the molecular mechanisms that underlie cognitive impairment in rodents, which may have clinical relevance for understanding anxiety, depression, and Parkinson's disease in humans. Currently, Dr. da Rosa is a visiting postdoctoral fellow in the Do Monte lab where she investigates the neural circuits involved in reward signaling. A nice morning cup of coffee, exercising, and a chilling evening are some of her enjoyable moments. 

Cana B. Quave, B.S.

Graduate Student


Cana Quave obtained his B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Biology from the University of Houston. In the lab of Dr. Therese Kosten, he was trained in modelling psychiatric disorders in rodents with the aim of developing novel therapeutics. His primary focus was to investigate the role of innate immune signaling in rats’ behavioral responses to predator odor-exposure. Additionally, he was extensively involved in peer-mentoring through positions in student groups and as the undergraduate representative to his department’s education committee. In the Do Monte Lab, Cana now seeks to study the neural mechanisms whereby drugs of abuse alter risk-taking behavior in the context of fear. Outside of the lab, Cana enjoys walking into forests, cooking with his Emergency Contact, Laura, and producing abnormal noise with his guitar.

Xu O. Zhang, B.S.

Graduate Student


Xu Zhang was born in Emeishan, Sichuan in southwest China. He received his B.S. in Biological Science from Zhejiang University, China. Under the direction of Dr. Zhefeng Gong, he investigated the neural circuits that mediate the thermoregulation of sleep behavior in fruit flies. He was also an activist in LGBT rights and feminism movement by leading the student LGBT group. In the Do Monte lab, Xu is trying to elucidate the activities and mechanisms of projection-defined prefrontal cortex neurons that regulate fear- and reward-associated responses in rats. In his free time, he enjoys cooking Chinese food, watching movies, and playing Nintendo Switch.

Vicky Chuong, M.S.

Graduate Student


Vicky received her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Iowa. As an undergraduate, she investigated the efficacy of neuroprotective compounds to treat neurodegenerative diseases. Vicky later received her master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Biomedical Science and Psychology from the University of Central Florida where she studied the role of cell senescence in Parkinson’s Disease. Following, Vicky completed a fellowship at the National Institute on Drug Abuse where she screened for pharmacological compounds with the potential to treat drug addictions. As a PhD student in the Do Monte Lab, Vicky is interested in studying individual differences in risky decision-making in rats. Outside the lab, Vicky is a proud bunny-mom of two who struggles daily to keep her plants alive. 

Fernanda N. Lotz Alves, M.S.

Visiting Graduate Student   


Fernanda received her B.S in Biology and later her M.S. in Neuroscience from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, where she is currently a Ph.D. student. For her doctoral dissertation, she studies how long-term fear memories lose contextual details as they shift from the hippocampus to different neocortical areas during systems consolidation, with a particular interest in the role of sex hormones in female and male animals in this process. During her short doctoral stay in the Do Monte Lab, Fernanda is applying in vivo calcium imaging in freely behaving animals to catch a glimpse of cortical engrams in action at the network level. Fernanda spends most of her free time reading, watching videos, editing videos for science communication and trying to remember where she left her keys.

Nikita Elinson-Watson, B.S.

Lab Manager & Research Assistant 

Nikita received her B.S. in Biology with a minor in Psychology from the University of Houston. While there, she was the president of a pre-health organization Alpha Eta Alpha, where she worked with members to help the community, developed connections with Special Olympics of Texas, and helped future health professionals navigate steps towards their career. She also spent time working under Dr. Gorniak at the UH Center for Neuromotor and Biomechanics Research where she studied how motor movement is affected by neurodegenerative diseases or diabetes. In the Do Monte Lab, Nikita is investigating the neural circuits that underlie ultrasonic vocalizations and social communication in rodents, During her free time, Nikita enjoys powerlifting, spending time outside with her dog, and experimenting in the kitchen.

Claire Cho, B.S.

Research Assistant


Claire was born in Houston, Texas and received her B.A. in Neuroscience and Psychology from Rice University. Claire began working in the Do Monte Lab through UTHealth’s summer GradSURP program and stayed as a post-baccalaureate trainee. In the Do Monte Lab, her project focuses on understanding how changes in internal metabolic states affect neuronal responses to reward-associated cues across the brain. In her free time, Claire enjoys playing the piano, practicing yoga, working on her digital art, and perfecting her espresso-making skills 

Victoria Albanese

Undergraduate Trainee

Victoria moved from Long Island, New York to Houston to pursue her degree in Bioengineering at Rice University. At the Do Monte Lab, her research project aims to determine how prelimbic neuronal activity tracks the changing predictive value of reward-related cues during extinction learning. In her free time, Victoria enjoys watching hockey, reading, and playing tennis. 

Hasan Rangwala

Undergraduate Trainee

Hasan was born in Houston, TX and is currently an undergraduate student at The University of Houston. He is majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology. At the Do Monte Lab, Hasan's project involves understanding the neural mechanisms that underlie behavioral flexibility during the expression of fear and reward-related responses in rats. In his free time, Hasan enjoys playing football, working out, and spending time with family and friends.  

Supporting Lab Members



Appa & Aang











Alumni members

Naubahar S. Agha, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow  2017

Anika Tanwani – Undergraduate Research Internship  Summer 2017

Ana Luisa Terzian - Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow  2017-2018

Melissa Franch - Rotating Graduate Student  Spring 2018

Yue Yu - Rotating Graduate Student  Spring 2018

Maria N. Rasheed - Post-Baccalaureate Trainee  2017-2019

Leah Olivo - Undergraduate Trainee  2018-2019

Riya Albert - Undergraduate Trainee  2018-2019

Jose A. Fernandez León - Postdoctoral Fellow  2017-2019

Victoria Gonzales - Undergraduate Trainee  2019

León Gerónimo Velazquez-Hernandez - International Visiting Student 2019

Roberto J. Morales - Visiting Graduate Student  Spring 2020 

Cuauhtemoc Ulises Gonzalez - Rotating Graduate Student - Spring 2020

Harvey Zhou - Undergraduate Trainee  2018-2020

Esha Bora - High School Trainee  2020-2021

Alexandria Goodson - Undergraduate Trainee  2019-2021

Alex Prince - Rotating Graduate Student  Fall 2021

Matias Cattani - Undergraduate Trainee  Summer 2021

Andres Vasquez - Research Assistant  2019-2021

Douglas Englke - Postdoctoral Fellow 2017-2022

Chinenye (Lucy) Chidomere - Undergraduate Trainee  2020-2022

Megan Tarbet - Rotating Graduate Student  Summer 2022

Beatriz Rios - Rotating Graduate Student Fall 2022

Paula Bender - Rotating Graduate Student Spring 2023