Current Lab Group

Dr. Graham Diering
Principal Investigator

Dr. Diering is the PI of the Diering Lab. He studies the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, with a particular interest in sleep. Using mouse models of human disease as well as primary cultured neurons, Dr. Diering applies his work to understanding and treating neurodevelopment disorders including Autism and intellectual disability. He broadly studies biochemistry, pharmacology, animal behavior and genetics.

Sawyer Grizzard
Lab Manager


Sawyer graduated from UNC in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Along with his lab manager duties, his research focuses on sleep/wake behavior and the genetic basis of sleep quality. Outside of research, he enjoys playing guitar, spending time outside, and watching UNC sports with friends.

Julia Sparks Lord
Research Specialist

Julia is in charge of our mouse colonies and behavioral assays. She is currently concentrating on profiling mouse sleep/wake behaviors through parameters such as sleep time and bout length.

Dr. Jayanth Anantha
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Jayanth graduated with a PhD in Medicine From UCC, Ireland. At the Diering lab he is interested in deciphering translational regulation at the synapse during sleep and wake states. When not in the lab, he enjoys playing the veena, composing music and cooking!

Dr. Shenée Martin
Post-Doctoral Fellow

photo of Shenee

Shenée graduated with a PhD from the UNC Neuroscience Department in 2023. Her research focuses on sleep disruptions in neurodegenerative disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s Disease.

Sean Gay
Graduate Student

Sean is a fifth-year graduate student in the Neuroscience Curriculum. He is investigating how sleep loss influences brain biochemistry and behavior during development. He is also interested in how sleep loss early in life may contribute to the progression and onset of neuropsychiatric developmental disorders such as schizophrenia and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Liza Chartampila
Graduate Student

Liza is a second-year PhD student in the Neuroscience program. Before beginning her doctoral studies at UNC, Liza completed her B.S. in neuroscience at Washington and Lee University. Outside of research, she enjoys painting, hiking, listening to podcasts, and playing volleyball.

Michael Ye
Graduate Student

Michael is a first-year graduate student in the Neuroscience program. He studies the regulation of sleep homeostasis by cortical intracellular signaling in excitatory neurons.

Sarah Jo Sleiman
Graduate Student

Sarah Jo is a first-year PhD student in the Neuroscience program. She earned her B.S. in Neuroscience with a Computer Science minor at American University and completed a postbaccalaureate fellowship at the NIEHS prior to her doctoral studies at UNC. SJ will be exploring how disrupting sleep drives neurodegenerative phenotypes in aging mouse models. Outside of the lab, she attempts to make traditional Lebanese dishes, and fosters puppies through a local rescue — all while chasing after her own sleep need. 

Kylie Joyce

Kylie graduated from UNC in 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience. She is investigating how sleep disruption influences pathology in neurodegeneration, specifically Alzheimer’s disease. She is interested in how amyloid-beta and tau work together and how changes in sleep affects these two proteins. Outside the lab she enjoys learning languages, playing with animals, and walking around the community!

Tekla Maisashvili
Undergraduate Researcher

Lab Alumni

Bradley Allf

Bradley Allf Headshot

Now a graduate student in the NC Museum of Natural Sciences Biodiversity Research Lab/NC State University.

Daniel Araya
Undergraduate Summer Intern

Daniel is a student at UNC Greensboro, and interned in the Diering lab as a part of the CSS/CSME program during the summer of 2023. During his time in the lab, he worked alongside several lab members as well as observed crucial experiments, while gaining exposure to new research techniques. Outside of research Daniel enjoys biking, listening to music, traveling, and making Eritrean dishes.

Maria F. Gonzalez-Aponte
PREP Student

Now a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis.

Sarah Monroe

Sarah Monroe Headshot

Now a graduate student at Duke University.

Lisa Sharek
Lab Manager

Lisa Sharek Headshot

Now a researcher at the University of Hawaii.

Kirsten Smith
Undergraduate Researcher

Now a graduate student at Duke University.

Diane Youngstrom
Undergraduate Researcher

 Now a post-bacc at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.