We are a diverse group with different scientific and personal interests but with a common bond – to make contributions that will advance science and our society.  Our group is composed of postdoctoral fellows, medical students, research associates and undergraduate students.


Greg Valdez, Assistant Professor

My research goal is to develop molecular and lifestyle interventions that promote the normal functioning of the nervous system and skeletal muscles.  As an educator, I have a deep interest in ensuring that the next generation of biological scientists have the intellectual and technical skills needed to make headways in research aimed at curing neurological and muscle diseases.

Email: gvaldez1@vtc.vt.edu; Phone: 540-526-2076



Milagros Tenga, Posdoctoral Fellow

My research focuses on characterizing the synaptic roles of a subfamily of fibroblast growth factors (FGF-7/10/22) and their binding protein (FGFBP1). In particular, I am interested in their role in maintenance and repair of adult synapses. Another aspect of my work focuses on the role of muscle-specific microRNAs in the transition from muscle stem cell (satellite cell) to skeletal muscle fiber in muscle regeneration. Further, I am studying the effect that the nerve and nerve-derived factors might have in this process.

Email: mjtenga@vtc.vt.edu; Phone: 540-526-2096




Sihui Zhang, Postdoctoral Fellow

My research focuses on the degeneration and regeneration of skeletal muscles and their connections with motor neurons, neuromuscular junctions. Specifically, I am interested in identifying molecular mechanisms that regulate stress responses in skeletal muscles, motor neurons and at the neuromuscular junction.

Email: sihuiz07@vt.edu; Phone: 540-526-2096




Nick Picture

Nicholas Maxwell, Lab Manager

Email: ndmaxwell@vtc.vt.edu; Phone: 540-526-2076





W. James Dittmar, Medical Student at VTCSoM

I am working to understand the broad molecular mechanisms that underlie aging at the neuromuscular junction.  I am interested in using integrative genomics coupled with experiment verification to identify functionally important proteins in the post-­synaptic apparatus that influence and regulate maintenance of the neuromuscular junction.






Will Dalkin

Will Dalkin, Medical Student at VTCSoM

My project focuses on the role of circadian genes in motor neurons.  Using single and multiple knockout mouse strains, I will examine the function of  a subset of these genes in developing, matured and regenerating neuromuscular junctions. 





Sydney Vaughan, Undergraduate Student, VT









Kisha Gresham, Undergraduate Student, VT








Lauren Kennedy, Undergraduate Student, Roanoke College








Jessica Stockinger, Undergraduate Student, Roanoke College








Zachary Kemp, Undergraduate Student, VT








Kaiwen Su, Undergraduate Student, UVA







Patrick StewartPatrick Stewart, Undergraduate Student, Elon College







Clare Burton, Undergraduate Student, Elon College








Austin Tatum, Undergraduate Student, VT









Matheus Proenca, Visiting Graduate Student from Cristina Guatimosim lab at UFMG, Brazil: ; lead a collaborative project between our respective labs.

Alyssa Huntington, Undergraduate Student, VT:  Summer intern supported by Scieneering fellowship, made possible by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Grant to VT.

Sabah Bangash, Lab Manager.