Robinson's Lab Team

Current Team Members

Photo of Catrina Robinson

The research in my laboratory focuses on understand the role of metabolic disorders (such as prediabetes, diabetes, and obesity) on brain health and aging.  Currently, we are studying the impact of diet and obesity on memory function. We are also exploring mechanisms that link metabolic disorders to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, we are investigating the role of prediabetes on stroke recovery. The goal of our laboratory is to understand the pathways involved in order to develop novel therapeutic targets to improve brain health. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is training and mentoring. I have experience training/mentoring high school students, undergraduate students, graduate students, medical students, and postdoctoral fellows.

Janet Boggs, Laboratory Manager

Janet Boggs, Laboratory Manager

I am the laboratory manager. I have been a part of the Robinson’s lab since 2014. Outside of the lab, I like to play with my dog, Parker.

Photo of Luke Watson, Graduate Student

Luke Watson

I am one of Dr. Robinson’s graduate students seeking a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences. I chose this as my dissertation lab in May 2018 after rotating through the lab in winter 2017-2018. I work with Dr. Robinson on a project seeking to identify mechanistic links between metabolic syndrome and neurodegenerative diseases, specifically at the level of the blood brain barrier. We probe questions about how disrupted insulin transport affects cognition, a phenomenon that intersects both of these groups of disorders, through the use of insulin resistant preclinical models and hyperinsulinemic in vitro modeling. In my free time, I like to remain active, spending time with friends - either at the beach or at a local brewery around Charleston – and hanging with my 20-pound cat named Scout!

Image of Alexus Williams, Post-Baccalaureate Student

Alexus Williams

I am currently a post-baccalaureate research fellow in the Robinson’s lab. I graduated from Savannah State University in December 2018. I have been a part of the Robinson Team since the summer of 2017 when I joined as a fellow in the summer undergraduate research program (SURP) on the cardiovascular biology tract. My research focused on developing cognitive rehabilitation task for preclinical neurodegenerative models. Outside of lab, I spend my time watching Netflix and listen to the Crime Junkie podcast. I am a member of Beta Kappa Chi National Science Honor society, and the American Medical Student Association.

Photo of Taylor Lowry, Lab Assistant/Undergraduate Student

Taylor Lowry, Lab Assistant/Undergraduate Student

I am an Undergraduate student at the College of Charleston majoring in Public Health. I have been a part of the Robinson team since January. I was interested in the Robinson Lab because of its research in the recovery process post-stroke. Outside of the lab, I like to be involved in the photography club on the College of Charleston campus.

Photo of Tyler Stone, Undergraduate Student

Tyler Stone, Undergraduate Student

I am an undergraduate student at the College of Charleston Honors College pursuing a majoring in Public Health with a minor in Chemistry, on the pre-med track. I have been a part of the lab since January of 2018 and don't plan on leaving any time soon! Later in life, hopefully, sooner rather than later, I want to be a doctor of medicine. But I don't want to be a doctor who is unconscious of the elaborate, interconnecting, web of people with varying professions and disciplines who all come together to do great things for humanity. I want to be a doctor who really knows what medicine entails one who saw what it's like to be central in the core goal of extending one's life in Dr. Robinson's medical research lab, on the first responder side as an EMT, the administration aspect of a hospital by being a public health major, and to give back to the community that allows me to be involved with all of these activities at the Jewish Student Union at the College of Charleston. Outside of the lab, I enjoy tutoring students in Chemistry and Biology over at the Center of Student Learning in the Addlestone Library, volunteering for the student-run EMS squad on campus as an EMT, a member of AED and AXE a pre-health society and a chemistry fraternity, respectively, and enjoy spending time at the Hillel on campus.

Stacy Nguyen, Undergraduate Student

Stacy Nguyen

I graduated from the Honors College at the College of Charleston in 2019. I have been part of the Robinson’s Lab since June 2018. Throughout my time here, I have been learning how to perform different molecular biology techniques as well as learning how to write manuscripts. I completed my bachelor’s essay in the Robinson’s lab where my research focused on understanding the therapeutic potential of intranasal insulin on functional stroke recovery. Though post-stroke can be difficult to treat, intranasal insulin offers a potential treatment, which is exciting! Outside of lab, I love volunteering and working as an EMT!

kevin boyd photo with dog

Kevin Boyd

I am an undergraduate at Duke University, class of 2023, majoring in Neuroscience on a Pre-Medical track. I joined the Robinson lab roughly two years ago. I joined the Robinson lab to complete my thesis for Academic Magnet High School in which I studied the predictive significance of behavioral responses of APP/PS1 mice in the Novel Object Recognition task. I was interested in the Robinson laboratory not only because Dr. Robinson agreed to mentor me throughout my senior thesis process as well as supply the necessary resources to complete my research, but also because of my interest with the research within the lab. My research interests include neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer’s disease, preventing neuro-cognitive degradation, and cognitive rehabilitation, etc. Outside of the lab, I previously worked in patient care at RSF Hospital, but I spend my free-time working on my art.

crystal smith photo

Crystal Smith

I am currently pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience. I am an IMSD scholar and have been a part of the Robinson Team since Feb 2019, the Robinson lab primarily focuses on the interaction between cognitive impairment and metabolic disorders. Brain insulin promotes neuroplasticity, synaptogenesis, has anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic, vasodilatory, anti-apoptotic properties, and is involved in cognition. The benefits of brain insulin give way to numerous research avenues that have the potential to improve cognitive impairment. The Robinson Lab aims to investigate the therapeutic impact of intranasal insulin, which has shown promise in decreasing cognitive deficits. Not much is known about insulin transport across the Blood Brain Barrier. My role in the lab is to explore insulin transport and the involvement of the insulin receptor, as well as investigating the role insulin and insulin receptors have on development. When I am not in the lab, I like to work out, attend events going on around Charleston with friends, and binge Netflix.

guadalupe sanchez photo

Guadalupe Sanchez

I am an undergraduate Biology and Spanish student at the College of Charleston. I will be walking in May 2020. I have been a part of Dr. Robinson’s team since fall of 2018. I was interested in her lab because of the research she is doing with both post-stroke recovery and Alzheimer’s and the new things I would learn. I enjoy helping around the lab in any way I can. Outside of the lab, I enjoy going to the beach, spending time with my family, and reading lots of books whenever I have the time.r

Publications:

  1. Watson LS, Hamlett ED, Stone TD, Sims-Robinson C. Neuronally derived extracellular vesicles: an emerging tool for understanding Alzheimer’s disease. Molecular Neurodegeneration. 2019 14:22. In Press.
  2. Buie JNJ, Hammad SM, Nietert PJ, Magwood G, Adams RJ, Bonilha L, Sims-Robinson C. Differences in plasma levels of long chain and very long chain ceramides between African Americans and whites: An observational study. PLoS One. 2019;14(5):e0216213. PubMed PMID: 31067249; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6505935.

Announcements/Accomplishments:

  • Congratulations to Luke Watson for his appointment as a predoctoral fellow on NHLBI Training Grant (T32)!
  • Congratulations to Kevin Boyd for graduating with Academic Honors from Academic Magnet High School. He will be attending Duke University in the Fall!
  • Crystal Smith attended the NEURAL Conference at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in June where she presented a poster on intranasal insulin as a therapy to improve stroke recovery.
  • Alexus Williams attended the Mid-Atlantic PREP/IMSD Research Symposium (MAPRS) at Wake Forest in May and presented a poster on the development of a cognitive rehabilitation paradigm.
  • Congratulations to Stacy Nguyen for graduating from the Honor’s College at the College of Charleston with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology with a concentration in Molecular Biology!

Past Team Members

Madison Patrick
Dominique Williams
Ali Darkazalli
Menny Benjamin
Michaela Palmer