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Researchers at the PRL

Like all organizations, our success is predicated on the quality of our peers. Here at the PRL, we have gathered an incredible team of undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers to accomplish our goals.

We are actively recruiting a Postdoctoral Research Scientist for the Pain Research Lab. For additional details and application, please visit:


We are also actively recruiting prospective MS- or PhD-track graduate students. Interested candidates seeking experience in fields of neural interfacing and neurophysiology should email with a statement of interest and unabridged curriculum vitae.


Bryan James Black

Principal Investigator

Bryan Black was graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2014 with a PhD in Physics and Applied Physics. He subsequently served as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the University of Texas at Dallas under Joseph Pancrazio. Bryan is now an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts - Lowell where he studies optical and electrical neural interfaces and how they can be used to better understand and treat chronic pain conditions. 


Rasha El Ghazal

Graduate Research Assistant, PhD Candidate

Rasha El Ghazal was graduated from UMass Lowell with a BS in Biomedical Engineering and began her Graduate Research Assistantship in the BME PhD program in Fall, 2022. Her research interests lie at the intersection of pharmacology and phenotypic assay development.


Neal M. Lojek

Graduate Research Assistant, PhD Candidate

Neal is a third year PhD candidate and NASA NSTGRO fellow co-mentored by Dr. Black and Dr. Ghezzi.  His interests include building more accessible 3D in vitro models for implementation in neuroscience and integrating high content electrophysiology readouts into 3D tissue cultures. Outside of the lab Neal enjoys hiking and fishing.


Nazli Seray Bostanci

Graduate Research Assistant, PhD Student

Nazli Seray Bostanci was graduated from TOBB University of Economics and Technology in 2014 with a BS in Biomedical Engineering and Middle East Technical University in 2021 with a MS in Biotechnology. She is a PhD student in BMBT program at UMass Lowell and joined PRL in 2023. Her research interests are tissue engineering and neural-electrode interfaces.


Mauricio Almeida

 Research Assistant

Mauricio is a MS student studying Biomedical Engineering. Earned his Bachelor's in BME in spring 2024 from Umass Lowell. His research interests include neural engineering; specifically brain-machine interfaces.


Alexander Somers

Graduate Research Assistant, PhD Student

Alex earned his Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science spring 2024. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD with the PRL were he builds GUI-based programs that utilize machine learning to interpret both single unit and local field potential neural data. Alex has a background in 3D printing, EEG design, and C/C++/MATLAB; skills that he hopes to someday apply to designing rehabilitative neural interfaces.

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Richard Hart 

Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Richard is a Senior Biomedical Engineering undergraduate student at UML. He is on the Cell and Tissue engineering track. His research interest is in finding therapeutics for chemo-induced neuropathic pain. He will be graduating in 2025, but until then he's on the E-board for UML's Indoor Rock Climbing Club, and acts for the Off Broadway Players theatre club.


Ben Johnston, MD, PhD

Collaborator and Honorary PRL Member

Dr. Johnston is currently a Neurosurgery Resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital and is graduated from Brown University with his MD and the University of Texas at Arlington with a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. 



Jayden Hairston

Graduated 2021 with BS in BME

Current position

Research Scientist I at Novartis


Emenji Muanya

Graduated 2021 with MS in BME

Current position:

Research Scientist II at Merck


Elijah LaVancher

Graduated 2022 with BS in BME

Current position

Scientist - Automated Cell Culture at Novartis

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Lilly Lawson, Ph.D.

Graduated 2022 with Ph.D. in BMEBT

Current position:

Application Scientist at BrainXell

James Zook

Graduated 2022 with BS in BME


Current position:

Bioprocess Associate - Bristol Myers Squibb


Victoria Williams

Graduated 2023 with BS in BME

Current Position:

PhD student in BME at Northeastern University

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Jai Singh Rajput

Former Research Associate


Smriti Kumar

Graduated 2023 with MS in BME

Current Position: 

MD student at A.T. Still University of Health Sciences


Mariam E. Peralta Valenzuela

Graduated 2023 with BS in BME

Current Position:

Associate Clinical Account Specialist 


Isabella Ventresca

Graduated 2024 with a Masters in BME 

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