Our Team

NeuroBridge is an organization dedicated to bridging the gap between scientists and policymakers in the state of North Carolina. We track the latest legislation from the North Carolina General Assembly, as well as the latest science being done across the state. In doing so, we aim to put policymakers in touch with scientists and scientists with policymakers to promote neuroscience legislation


Meet The Founders

Sarah Banducci earned her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017. She left academia to work in industry and is currently the manager of scientific affairs for a medical device company in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sarah’s science outreach efforts are currently directed through the Bay Area Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, and she was previously with the Science Policy Committee of the Triangle Chapter of the same organization.
Ryan Bell earned his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from the City University of New York in 2015. His work at Duke University School of Medicine is primarily focused on the neuroscience of drug use and HIV status.  As chair of the Triangle Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience’s Science Policy Committee, he has extensive experience meeting with local, state, and federal legislators about the importance of neuroscience research and funding. Ryan is also a co-chair of the Durham County, NC opioid task force data committee whose mission is helping to reduce opioid overdoses in Durham County.

Meet Our Contributors

Carol Gianessi
earned her PhD in Neuroscience from Yale University in 2018, where she studied the contributions of endocannabinoid signaling to habit formation. She currently works as a Post Doctoral Research Associate in Dr. Thomas Kash’s lab at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, where she studies how a stress-signaling peptide contributes to the escalation of binge alcohol drinking. Carol is interested in mental healthcare policy and social determinants of health. Carol enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons, listening to This Week in Virology and other podcasts, and hanging out with her two cats General Leia Organa-Solo and Brightness Shallan Davar.



Rachel Haake earned her PhD in Psychology & Neuroscience from UNC, Chapel Hill in 2021. In addition to being a scientific editor at Neurobridge.org, she currently serves as the Professional Development Chair at the National Science Policy Network and Advocacy Liaison for the Chicago Society for Neuroscience. She is passionate about advocating for equity-focused health and education policy and enjoys reading, taking care of her many indoor plants, and spending time with her 17-year old cat, Shadow.



Ariana Pirzadeh earned her BS in Psychology from UNC, Chapel Hill in 2021. She is currently working at Johns Hopkins as a Research Assistant in the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, alongside her work as a scientific writer for Neurobridge.org. After a few years of research experience, Ariana plants to return to academia for her PhD in Neuroscience. She is specifically passionate about integrating mental health into neuroscience research and understanding neural connectivity and reward circuitry. Outside of academics, she loves to lift weights, cook, and spend time outdoors.