Current Lab People

Prof John Reynolds, PI

MBChB, PhD (Otago)

John gained a degree in Medicine in 1994 and completed a PhD in Neuroscience in 2000.


Jason Gray, Assistant Research Fellow

Dip. Grad (Otago), MSc (Otago)

Jason has been an ARF in the Anatomy Department since 2010. Having previously worked for AgResearch for over a decade, he has competency in a range of techniques. Currently he is involved in a project to develop an on-demand drug delivery system for the brain with potential application in treating conditions such as Parkinson’s and epilepsy.

Dr Ashik Banstola, Assistant Research Fellow

MPharm, PhD (Otago)

Ashik completed his PhD examining the interaction between basal ganglia and limbic circuitry for behavioural inhibition. His professional speciality is on manufacturing of multielectrode arrays, behavioural training, in vivo electrophysiological recordings from awake animals, stereotaxic surgery for implantation of electrodes and viral injection, immunohistochemistry and pharmacological manipulations.

Currently, he is involved in large animal species (sheep) surgery for injection of neurotoxin, implantation of transducer and behavioural testing with the aim of establishing a new model of Parkinson’s disease.

Annabel Kean, Research Assistant

MSc (Otago)

Annabel works part time for Prof Reynolds, assisting in administrative and research support.

Dr Nico Vautrelle, Assistant Research Fellow

PhD (Lyon, France)

Nico completed his PhD in Lyon, France, where he studied the electrophysiological activity of several Basal Ganglia nuclei on a model of Parkinson’s Disease.

Over the past 10 years, Nico’s research interest focused on understanding the role of the Basal Ganglia in decision making and reinforcement learning.

He is now working in establishing a new model of Parkinson’s disease in the Reynolds Lab with the aim of developing new therapeutic technologies that would translate in new therapeutic strategies for humans.

He commonly uses stereotaxic surgery, behavioral testing, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology and immunohistochemistry for his research and is learning high-performance liquid chromatography.

Dr Mariana Leriche Vazquez, Assistant Research Fellow

PhD (Mexico City, Mexico)

Mariana Leriche is interested in the functional changes of basal ganglia network during Parkinson’s disease (PD). Particularly, the changes affecting habitual and goal directed actions. Her long-term aim is to develop a behavioural biomarker for PD based on the differential degeneration of brain regions controlling automatic and goal directed movements.

Giovanni Pedone, PhD Student

MSc Molecular Biotechnology, (University of Torino, Italy)

Giovanni joined our group in April 2018, and is undertaking a PhD. His project will investigate the mechanisms of formation of memory about actions necessary to obtain reward and the role of the neurochemical dopamine. In particular he will focus on the molecular mechanisms that allow the brain to encode the temporal information during the learning process

Kushan GANDHI, Bachelor of Medical Science

Kushan is a medical student at the University of Otago, who joined the lab in 2019 to pursue his BMedSci (hons) degree. He is currently studying the effects that ultrasound, as used by novel drug-delivery systems, has on the blood-brain barrier, using rat models.  Kushan is in the process of extending his honours research into an intercalated PhD programme

Rosie Melchers, PhD (intercalated) Student

Rosie is a medical student at the University of Otago, currently completing the work required for an intercalated PhD. She joined the lab as a BMedSci student in 2016 and is looking at using electrical stimulation techniques to measure and modify how the hemispheres of the brain communicate after motor cortex stroke.

Rosie is now back at Medical school (Wellington) and returns to us to complete her PhD in her university holidays.