Vanessa Stempel

Research Fellow

Vanessa is a research associate in the Branco lab, and currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship from the German Science Foundation.

After doing her Biology undergraduate studies in Germany and Poland, Vanessa did a MRes at UCL, working with Prof Mark Farrant on single channel properties of GABAA receptors. She then went on to do a PhD in the laboratory of Prof Dietmar Schmitz at Charité Berlin, investigating cellular plasticity mechanisms in the hippocampus, with a focus on neuromodulation.

She joined the Branco group to investigate the microcircuits of the periaqueductal gray and superior colliculus, two areas of the brain that compute escape responses to innately threatening visual and auditory stimuli. In particular, she is interested in understanding how excitatory and inhibitory cells in these circuits integrate information about threats and initiate escape. To address this, she uses a combination of behavioural assays and electrophysiology, as well as opto- and chemogenetic, molecular and anatomical tracing techniques.