• Anna Kasdan

    Neuroscience Graduate Program

    Anna Kasdan is a doctoral student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at Vanderbilt University and a recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. Previously, she was a research assistant in the lab of Dr. David Poeppel at NYU, where she conducted research in music perception, music aesthetics, and auditory working memory. She was also heavily involved with an experimental neuroscience curriculum, “Brainwaves”, where she mentored students in the NYC Public Schools as they conducted their own EEG experiments. Anna graduated from Boston University with a major in Neuroscience and minor in Piano Performance. Committed to STEM outreach and education, Anna is looking forward to bringing her experiences from Boston and NYC to Nashville. She is interested in researching the brain basis of music processing abilities in clinical populations, such as individuals with SLI, autism, and aphasia. In addition to her neuroscience and piano studies, Anna enjoys hiking, biking, and cheering on her hometown baseball team, the Boston Red Sox.

  • Rachana Nitin

    Neuroscience Graduate Program

    Rachana grew up in Mumbai, India, and went to St. Xavier’s College for undergrad where she studied Zoology and Biochemistry. After graduating, she spent a year in Ontario working with Dr. Stephen Lougheed in the Molecular Ecology Lab at Queen’s University. She completed her Master’s in Zoology at Pune University in India and immediately after began work with Dr. Himanshu Sinha in the Complex Trait Lab at TIFR, Mumbai. She then returned to the US in 2015 for her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Vanderbilt. Rachana’s specific areas of interest in research are the genetics of disease, public health, and botany. In her free time, you’ll find Rachana spending time in the kitchen, listening to crime podcasts, painting, or in a dance class hosted at Vanderbilt! She has played the piano for 15 years and enjoys classical, electronica, and classic rock music.


    Nitin, RA, Bowman, AA. (2018). Chapter Three - Connections Between Manganese Neurotoxicity and Neurological Disease. Advances in Neurotoxicity, 87-113(2). https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.ant.2018.03.001

    Meiotic Interactors of a Mitotic Gene TAO3 Revealed by Functional Analysis of its Rare Variance. Gupta et al. G3: GENES, GENOMES, GENETICS August 1, 2016 vol. 6 no. 8 2255-2263;https://doi.org/10.1534/g3.116.029900


  • Valentina Persici

    Visiting PhD student in Neuroscience

    Valentina Persici is a Ph.D. student in Psychology, Linguistics, and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Milano – Bicocca, in Italy, and since November 2018 a visiting Ph.D. student in Neuroscience at Vanderbilt University. She received her BA in Foreign Languages and Linguistics from the University of Urbino (Italy) and her MA in Psycholinguistics from the University of York (UK). She also received a master’s degree in Clarinet studies from the Conservatory G. Rossini of Pesaro (Italy). Before starting her Ph.D. program, she won a research scholarship from the University of Verona (Italy) to carry out a study on language processing in bilingual children in collaboration with Prof. Marilyn Vihman (University of York). At the University of Milano – Bicocca, and now at Vanderbilt University, she has had the chance to combine her interests in psycholinguistics and in music. Her work focuses on language, tonal, and rhythmic processing in both typically developing and clinical populations who have early exposure to music and/or a second language.


    Persici, V., Vihman, M., Burro, R., & Majorano, M. (2019). Lexical access and competition in bilingual children: The role of proficiency and the lexical similarity of the two languages. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 179, 103-125. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2018.10.002

    Persici, V., Stucchi, N., & Arosio, F. (in press). Predicting the future in rhythm and language: The anticipation abilities of a group of Italian-speaking children. In P. Guijarro Fuentes & C. Suárez Gómez. Proceedings of GALA 13. Language acquisition and development. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.