Dion Dickman

Principal Investagator

BA Washington University 1995-1999

PhD Harvard University 2000-2005

Postdoc UCSF 2006-2011


Dion was born in Hawaii (in the same hospital as Barack Obama) on Valentine’s Day (a true romantic), and has lived in Hawaii, Santa Barbara, Washington State, Nebraska, St. Louis, Boston, and San Francisco, before finally planting roots in Southern California. Besides research and teaching, he enjoys pursuing his other passions which include reading spy thrillers and following politics as well as his beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers and Boston Red Sox (and USC Trojans of course!).



Pragya Goel

Graduate student

B.Eng in Computer Science, University of Delhi, India, 2011

M.Eng in Computer Science, Cornell University, USA, 2012


As a CS undergrad, she was passionate in how Computer Science could be used as a support discipline for Biology - “nature’s information technology” as she thinks of it. She worked on a wide range of projects in Bioinformatics (protein structure prediction and microarrays) during undergrad and then in Neuro-informatics during masters which triggered her interest in Neuroscience. As a joint student in the Dickman lab and the Rohs lab (, she aims to study the role of specific transcription factors in synaptic homeostasis and plasticity using experimental and computational methods.


It is not all work for Pragya at all times, as she pursues many interests. She has learnt ballet for 7 years, and loves all forms of dance. Other hobbies include music(singing and listening), swimming, reading (psychology, thrillers, and sci-fi) and cooking (specially Indian food).


Xiling Li

Graduate student

B.S. in Physics, Beijing Normal University, 2010-2014



Xiling is born and raised in the ‘spicy city’—Chongqing in China. She did research in Nanoscience in her undergrad, but finally got fascinated by the most beautify structure, synapses, from a biophysics special lecture. She is specifically interested in studying the machineries for synaptic transmission, synaptic plasticity and synaptic function deficits in neurological diseases. She loves all the animals, especially dogs. Besides the lab time, Xiling enjoys working out with friends in the gym, playing with dogs and practicing brush calligraphy.

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