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The Team

The Cummings lab is eager to welcome prospective members with diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences.

Prospective PhD students can apply to the Graduate Biomedical Science Program, the Psychology PhD program, or the Neuroengineering PhD program. PhD students interested in a lab rotation should email Dr. Cummings with a description of their research interests.

Prospective postdoctoral fellows should email Dr. Cummings with a description of their research interests and curriculum vitae.

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Kirstie A Cummings, PhD

Assistant Professor & Principal Investigator

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Email: kac3 [at]

Curriculum Vitae

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Dr. Cummings received a BA in Music and a BS in Cell & Molecular Biology from SUNY Binghamton University in 2011. She then earned her PhD in ion channel biophysics in the Department of Biochemistry at SUNY University at Buffalo. After graduating in 2016, she pursued her postdoctoral training in systems neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Cummings joined the faculty of the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2022. Outside of the lab, Dr. Cummings enjoys listening to and playing music, baking, and playing with her dogs.

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Rodrigo Campos-Cardoso, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Pronouns: he/him/his

Email: rcamposc [at]

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Dr. Campos-Cardoso received his degree as a Biologist at the Federal University of Viçosa in 2015. After that, he completed his master's (2018) and PhD in Neurosciences (2022) at the University of São Paulo at Ribeirão Preto. Rodrigo has been interested in the effects of the HPA-axis responses on memory and behavior in adolescent and adult rodents. Dr. Campos-Cardoso joined The Cummings Lab in September of 2022. In his spare time, Rodrigo enjoys gardening and cooking for his friends.


Zephyr Desa, BS

PhD student

Pronouns: He/him/his

Email: zdesa [at]

Zephyr is a Neuroscience PhD student in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He received his BS in biology and psychology in May of 2022 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After graduating, he joined the Cummings Lab as a research technician before entering the PhD program in summer of 2023. Zephyr is interested in synaptic plasticity and the circuitry underlying fear memory. Outside of the lab Zephyr loves to play soccer, go camping, and collect music.


Brianna Fitzgerald, BS

PhD student

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Email: bfitzger [at]

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Brianna Fitzgerald is a Neuroscience PhD student in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She received her BS in Biology from North Carolina A&T State University in May of 2021. After graduating, she completed an NIH Post-Baccalaureate Reseach Program at UAB studying Endosomal Trafficking on Neuronal Viability and Synaptic Stability, where she developed an interest in cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurological disorders. Brianna joined the Cummings lab in March 2023 with the intention of studying the circuitry and cell-type- specific mechanisms of fear memory encoding within the medial PFC. Outside of the lab, Brianna likes to paint, listen to music, and play with her dog. 

Hunter F. Lab Website photo.heic

PhD student

Pronouns: He/him/his

Email: htfranks [at]

Hunter Franks, BA

Hunter is a Neuroscience PhD student in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He received a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Neuroscience from the University of Memphis in May 2020. After his undergraduate degree, he was hired as a researcher at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital where he studied the Locus Coeruleus-Orbital Frontal Cortex circuitry and the effects of manipulating this circuit in reward memory and reversal learning. Hunter joined the Cummings Lab in January 2024. His interests are in mapping and studying circuits related to phenotypes of addiction and reward learning. In his free time, Hunter enjoys lifting weights, playing video games, and spending time with his dog.


Victoria Landar

Undergraduate researcher
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Email: valandar [at]

Victoria Landar is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in neuroscience. She joined the lab in August 2022 and is interested in learning about mechanisms that dictate fear responses as well as developing general skills in the laboratory. She plans to study medicine and hopefully become a physician after receiving her BS in neuroscience in May 2025. In her free time, Victoria enjoys singing, playing the clarinet, and spending time at church.

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Kenya Barnes

Undergraduate researcher

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Email: kenyanb [at]

My name is Kenya Barnes and I’m a junior majoring in Neuroscience. My research and academics include the neuroscience behind pain, motivation, and clinical treatments that treat different neurological issues related to pain and psychology. I’m currently on a pre-med track but became increasingly interested in research and the MD/Ph.D. pathway after studying abroad spring of 2022 to conduct research. Although not directly related to neuroscience, I’m also interested in becoming an OB/GYN! Outside of academics, I thoroughly enjoy traveling, hiking, listening to music, watching movies, and getting/making coffee (I have my own espresso machine!).


Jace Duhon

Undergraduate researcher

Pronouns: he/him/his

Email: duhonj [at]

My name is Jace Duhon. I’m a junior neuroscience major from Houston Texas. I am pre-med and aspire to be a surgeon. I love everything and anything science. My research interests are in memory and motivation.  When I’m not in the lab or studying, I’m hanging out with friends, playing sports, or playing the guitar.


Julia Souza

Undergraduate researcher

Email: jasouza [at]

My name is Julia Souza, and I’m a sophomore majoring in Neuroscience. I'm very interested in learning about areas of the brain that affects emotion and motivation, and how the process works. In the future, I plan on attending medical school and becoming a Cardiologist. Outside of school I love to travel. I’m originally from Brazil so I spend a lot of my time going back and forth to visit my family and visiting other countries in the process! 


  • Alana Moore - Blazer BRAIN summer undergraduate research fellow, Tuskegee University

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