Current Fellows

Sirena Soriano, PhD, 2021, NeuralCODR Fellow

Sirena Soriano obtained her PhD from the University of Valencia, Spain in 2016 under the mentorship of Drs. Moltó and Martínez. As part of her doctoral training, she joined the laboratory of Juan Botas, PhD, at Baylor College of Medicine as a visiting fellow to perform a genetic interaction screening in a fly model of Friedreich ataxia. She later joined the laboratory of Dr. Samaco at Baylor College of Medicine as a postdoctoral associate where she participated in the molecular and behavioral characterization of rodent models of autism spectrum disorders. In 2019, she joined the Villapol Lab as the next step in her pursuit of a career in academia, with the goal of investigating the link between brain injuries and Alzheimer’s disease.


Sirena is sponsored through the generosity of Paula and Rusty Walter and Walter Oil & Gas Corp.

Caroline Cvetkovic, PhD, 2020, NeuralCODR Fellow

Caroline Cvetkovic earned her PhD in bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her doctoral work was focused on building engineered cellular systems with the ability to sense and process information, respond to external stimuli, and produce force. Her research integrated neuromuscular tissue engineering, 3D printing, bio-robotics, and biomaterials, and she contributed to the first demonstrations of bio-inspired machines powered by electrically and optogenetically stimulated skeletal muscle. In the Krencik Lab, she is developing human stem-cell derived 3D neuronal tissue cultures that can be used to study various aspects of development and degeneration, while determining their potential for regenerative clinical therapies. Cvetkovic enjoys outdoor activities, traveling, and going to museums.


Caroline is sponsored through the generosity of Paula and Rusty Walter and Walter Oil & Gas Corp.

Betsy Salazar, PhD, 2020, NeuralCODR Fellow

Betsy Salazar completed her doctoral training at the University of Houston in 2015, where her research mainly focused on the electrophysiological characteristics of the rodent heart, including whole heart models, ex-vivo, as well as bioengineered cardiac constructs. Upon completion of her PhD, Dr. Salazar began postdoctoral training at the Houston Methodist Research Institute under the guidance of Dr. Alvaro Munoz and Dr. Timothy B. Boone. There, she investigated the electromyographic characterization of the lower urinary tract in intact and spinal cord injury rodent models. Currently, she investigates the use of therapeutic drugs to promote functional recovery following spinal cord injury in rodent models. More specifically, she is interested in assessing motor function recovery using behavioral tests, as well as assessing the impact treatments have at the cellular level. In her spare time, Betsy enjoys reading, drawing, traveling and spending time with her husband and wonderful puppy. 


Betsy is sponsored through the generosity of Paula and Rusty Walter and Walter Oil & Gas Corp.

Matthew Hogan, PhD, 2018, NeuralCODR Fellow

Matt Hogan’s research focus is on activity associated plasticity. He hopes to elucidate the role, if any, of neural activity patterns on spinal regeneration. Dr. Hogan’s research has centered on tools and applications to selectively modulate the activity of neural circuits in the injured and naïve spinal cord to enhance regeneration and facilitate integration of neural stem cells to improve function. Hogan enjoys woodworking, guitar, coding, cooking and sports. Most weekends he is tinkering in his workshop at home or being forcibly cultured by his more sophisticated significant other.

If you are interested to apply for a NeuralCODR Fellowship, please visit the "How to Apply" tab.