Parastoo (Parry) Hashemi
Principle Investigator

Parry received her MSci degree in Chemistry from King's College, London. She performed her PhD with Martyn Boutelle in the Department of Bioengineering in Imperial College, London where she developed online biosensing technology to measure brain metabolites from human traumatic brain injury patients. After her PhD she skipped over the pond to Chapel Hill where she worked with Mark Wightman. Here she learned fast scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) at carbon-fiber microelectrodes (CFMs) and developed the first method to measure serotonin in vivo using FSCV. She currently has labs at USC and Imperial. Parry and her team tackle some of the world's most pertinent issues with analytical engineering and have a long list of accolades attesting to their success. Outside of her work and her family, Parry loves cities, champagne, dogs, exercise, design and fashion,  literature and learning how to make the local cuisine of all the places in which she's lived (including killer Carolina BBQ).

Yangguang (O.U.) Ou

Post Doctoral Scholar

O.U. graduated with a B.Sc in Chemistry and biochemistry from Florida State University in 2011 and earned her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017, working with Dr. Steve Weber. Her main intellectual goals are two-fold: 1) to develop new bioanalytical techniques for in vivo neurochemical sensing with high spatiotemporal resolution, and 2) to understand how neurochemical systems are altered in individuals suffering from psychiatric illnesses. To pursue these goals, she joined the Hashemi Lab in Jan 2018 and is spearheading a project that studies ambient oscillations in ambient serotonin concentrations and different eletrode modifications for histamine detection. In her free time, she enjoys travel, Pure Barre, and exploring restaurants in every city she visits, including her current home of Columbia, SC. She will be moving to Burlington, VT in August 2020 to start her own lab at the University of Vermont. 

Shane Berger

Graduate Student

Shane received his B.S. in chemistry from Penn State University in 2015, after which he joined the Hashemi lab as an analytical chemistry Ph.D. student.  Shane is interested in the link between pesticide exposure and developing depression later in life.  As serotonin disruption is thought to be a key player in depression, Shane is investigating how pesticide exposure affects basal and evoked serotonin levels.  In his free time, Shane loves spending time in the great outdoors while hiking, fishing, and biking.

Anna Marie Buchannan

Graduate Student

Anna Marie received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Auburn University. She is a member of the Integrated Biomedical Science program with a focus in neurochemistry, and joined the Hashemi Lab in the spring of 2017. She is interested in understanding copper’s role in the formation of the amyloid beta plaques commonly present in Alzheimer’s Disease, and thus merging both the metal analysis and neurochemical focuses of the Hashemi Lab. Anna Marie enjoys the finer things in life, including roaming the streets of Paris, surf and turf, and a crisp white wine. Outside of the lab, she likes to listen to music, Coldplay is her favorite, and watch lots of Netflix on the weekends!

Colby Witt

Graduate Student

Colby attended Francis Marion University where he obtained a B.S. in chemistry and a B.S. in biology. He is currently a Ph.D. student in analytical chemistry. Colby is working on understanding the fine-tuning mechanism behind the release and reuptake of serotonin in the central nervous system. In his free time Colby enjoys learning how to cook in his crockpot, binging the latest Netflix hits, and traveling to new places.  

Brenna Parke

Graduate Student

Brenna attended the University of Iowa where she obtained  a BS in Chemistry and Biochemistry. She literally joined the lab like last week. Brenna is ecstatic to begin working on building a bridge to find a link between rodent models of depression to human models via cultured serotonin neurons from stem cells.In her free time she likes to attend cycle and barre classes via class pass(cough cough subtle plug endorsement), while also binging on Netflix and watching hawkeye football. She also likes eating really really good food with her friends. 

Melissa Hexter

Graduate Student

Melissa received her B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2017 and received her masters in biotechnology from the University of Maryland, global campus in 2019 while working for the Department of Defense as a method development chemist. Melissa joined the lab in fall 2019 for her PhD in bioengineering at Imperial College in London. Her research focus is the optimization of in vitro calibration for FSCV and the characterization of serotonin dynamics in hIPSCs via FSCV. Melissa spends most of her free time lifting heavy weights at the gym. 

Lauren Batey

Graduate Student

Lauren attended the University of South Carolina earning a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2019. She will be enrolling at Imperial College in London in Fall of 2020 to obtain her PhD in Bioengineering where she will be studying the link between norepinephrine and depression. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, painting, yoga, and above all else, cuddling with her beloved dog Wesley.


Sergio Mena

Graduate Student

Sergio received his bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering from the Polytechnical University of Valencia, Spain. After that, he moved to the United Kingdom to gain his master's in bioengineering: medical physics from Imperial College London. He is currently a PhD student in bioengineering at the Hashemi lab, where he is working on developing new technology platforms for the study of serotonin’s role in mood disorders. In his spare time, Sergio enjoys hiking, travelling, coding random algorithms and play basketball. 



Navid Tavakoli

Undergraduate Student

Navid is a premedical undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina planning on majoring in biological sciences and minoring in statistics. He is from Columbia, SC and in addition to receiving his High School Diploma, he received an International Baccalaureate Diploma from the International Baccalaureate Program. Navid is the democratically elected Hashemi Lab President and is involved in a variety of projects. Outside the lab Navid, enjoys playing ultimate frisbee and soccer and has been a recreational boys soccer coach for the past 5 years. Navid also really likes chicken tenders.

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Lauren Honan

Undergraduate Student

Lauren is a rising senior working towards earning a B.S. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and minoring in French at the University of South Carolina. She plans to graduate with leadership distinction on the research pathway, and after graduation hopes to enroll as a PhD student in neuroscience or chemistry to study the neurochemistry of mental disorders such as drug and alcohol addiction. Lauren has been working in the Hashemi Lab since her freshman year. Some of her most notable accomplishments in her undergrad include receiving the Magellan Scholar Award, giving a poster presentation at Pittcon 2020, and being inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and the Capstone Fellows Program. Outside of the lab, she loves giving back to the local children’s hospital in Columbia through her position on the Board of Directors for USC Dance Marathon and traveling - she spent 5 weeks studying French in Tours, France before her junior year.


Fariha Islam

Undergraduate Student

Fariha is a rising senior at the University of South Carolina studying Biochemistry & Molecular Biology with a minor in Business Administration. She has been a member of the lab since her freshman year and has worked on projects supported by the SCHC SURF Grant and Magellan Scholar Award. After graduation, she plans to pursue a medical degree so that she can advocate for communities who face health disparities. When she’s not conducting experiments, you can find her baking desserts for days or exploring her favorite cities.


Ian Bain

Undergraduate Student

Ian is a senior undergraduate student studying chemistry and math at the University of South Carolina. He is interested in the role of histamine in depression and can usually be found slicing many, many brains. After graduation, he plans to attend graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry. Ian was recently named a Barry M. Goldwater scholar, an award given to students pursuing careers in research. In his free time, he enjoys gardening, fencing, eating grapefruit, and frequently washing his hands.


Courtney Heath

Undergraduate Student

Courtney works as an undergraduate researcher in the Hashemi Lab under the guidance of Jordan Holmes, Yangguang Ou, and Colby Witt. She is currently working on a project exploring amino acid fouling to increase sensitivity to serotonin using fast scan cyclic voltammetry. She plans to graduate with a B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology with a minor in Spanish in May 2022. She hopes to continue in neuroscience and/or toxicological research while pursuing a PhD after graduating. 

Aron Lajko

Undergraduate Student

Aron Lajko is currently a first year Bioengineering Undergraduate at Imperial College London. As part of the UROP programme he will be working on how motor activity in animals is affected by emotional states. He likes thinking about combining empathy with evidence, and breaking the fourth wall. Rowing and running are his favorite sports.

Ginger Hashemi

Hashemi Lab Consultant

Ginger (Gingy) Hashemi is a founding member of the lab, and provides boundless positive energy to lab members. Her primary role has been to elevate lab member's serotonin levels, which she does with resounding success, likely via an oxytocin mediated mechanism. Parry has had multiple offers/threats from others to buy/steal her. Nonetheless, Gingy's destiny is to serve the psychological health of the Hashemi lab and she can't imagine any higher calling. Ginger cannot catch a ball thrown slowly and deliberately to her, yet will catch a bread-crumb traveling at the speed of light. In her youth, Gingy loved to train for marathons with Parry, running for hours in the woods with her tail awaggin' and her tongue ahangin'; chasing smaller animals (much to her detriment when those animals happened to be skunks or porcupines). These days our old girl is content with just a short stroll, giving and getting lots of cuddles (Gingy is a great proponent of canine intervention therapy), followed by 16 hrs of sleep.