Rao Lab

Neurobiological Interfaces

scientific curiosity, determination and execution

Our Missions

scientific discoveries

We are studying the fundamental scientific principles at the interfaces of biological and material systems.

Curiosity has the boundless power to drive scientific discoveries. We acquire inspiration from biophysics, material science and engineering, electronics and neurobiology and investigate the phenomena of magnetism, electricity, chemistry and optics between the material and nervous systems. These fundamental principles can further guide us to effective engineering designs for biomedical applications.

biotechnology advancement

We are developing effective engineering methodologies to investigate neurobiological questions.

Biotechnology advancement is an indispensable catalyst for addressing neurobiological questions. Targeting specific technological challenges in neurobiology, we synthesize and fabricate functional materials, from nanoscale materials to devices, and apply them as engineering tools with various modalities to study the neural mechanisms underlying neurological and psychiatric disorders, including depression, addiction and social deficits.


We are working in multiple-disciplinary fields to promote biomedical engineering advancement.

Neural modulation

Remotely controlled neural modulation with non-invasive stimulus


Biophysics and chemical principles in the neurobiological interfaces


Nanoscale materials for neural intervention


Nanoscale and device-size electronics to intervene and record neural activity

Integrated neural probes

Fiber-inspired devices for probing nervous system with optical, electrical and pharmacological approaches

Beyond the brain

Circuit-wide neuronal system


We are an energertic group with material scientitsts, electrical engineers, bioengineers and chemists.



Siyuan Rao

Assistant Professor



Sizhe Huang

PhD student in BME program



Eunji Hong

PhD student in BME program



Ruobai Xiao

PhD student in MSE program



Xinxin Xu

PhD student in MSE program



Dr. Yong Zhuang

Research Fellow



Jacob Tajchman

Undergraduate student in BME, Neuroscience, and Computer Science and Engineering



Sophia Tsekov

Undergraduate student in BME



Jingyi (Alex) Zu

Undergraduate student in BME



Christopher Glynn

Undergraduate student in BME and Applied Mathematics



Arzell Jelani Steans

Undergraduate student in BME



Ifeoluwa Adeniyi

Undergraduate student in BME



Rachel Collins

Undergraduate student in BME



Omri Yosfan

Undergraduate student in BME



Lucy Xu

Undergraduate student in BME



Nicolle Gudiel Winter

Undergraduate student in Psychology, on the Neuroscience Track



Sabrina Urbina

Undergraduate student in BME



Amanda Kanashiro

Undergraduate student in BME


04/2023     Welcome Ruobai Xiao and Xinxin Xu joining our group! Ruobai and Xinxin are enrolled in MSE PhD program starting from 2023 Summer. Welcome Dr. Yong Zhuang joining us as a Research Fellow. Welcome undergraduate students, Sabrina Urbina Villafranca, Rachel Collins, Omri Yosfan, Nicolle Gudiel Winter, Amanda Kanashiro, joining our group

01/2023      NBI Lab received the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program.

12/2022     Congratulations to Eunji Hong and Christopher Glynn on publishing Non-Invasive Electroretinogram Recording with Simultaneous Optogenetics to Dissect Retinal Ganglion Cells Electrophysiological Dynamics on Biosensors!

12/2022      NBI Lab received 2023 AFOSR Young Investigator Program Award.

6/2022      NBI Lab received UMass FRG 2022 award.

6/2022     Welcome undergraduate students Ifeoluwa Adeniyi, Rachel Collins, joining our group! Welcome REU student, Noah Flores, and high-school students, Trevor Xing-Xie, Ava Zimmermann, Kaitlin Aquilino working with us! high-school students Ifeoluwa Adeniyi, Rachel Collins, joining our group!

5/2022     Congratulations to Eunji Hong and Weixuan Chen on passing their Qualifying exams!

5/2022     Congratulations to Dr. Qianbin Wang on publishing his experimental Glaucoma mouse model, Core Transcription Programs Controlling Injury-Induced Neurodegeneration of Retinal Ganglion Cells, on Neuron!

4/2022     Congratulations to Weixuan Chen on her IONs Inspirations Award! Congratulations to Collin Maley on winning Distinguished Biomedical Engineering Fellowship with the admission to Boston University PhD program!

1/2022     Welcome undergraduate students Sarah Shams, Jingyi (Alex) Xu, Christopher Glynn, Arzell Jelani Steans and Varun Gopal joining our group!

11/2021     Dr. Siyuan Rao, Dr. Qianbin Wang, Sizhe Huang, Collin Maley, Jacob Naroian attended UMass Interdisciplinary Neuroscience, Computer Science & Engineering Poster Conference. Collin Maley won Third Place Award. Well done, everyone!

10/2021     Welcome Dr. Jia Xu visiting NBI lab!

10/2021     Dr. Siyuan Rao received the Young Investigator Grant from Brain& Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF). Thanks for the funding support!

08/2021     Welcome BME undergraduate students Jacob Tajchman, Sophia Tsekov, Trisha Raman and Aaryan Chaudhary joining our group!

08/2021     Welcome Eunji Hong and Weixuan Chen joining our group! Eunji and Weixuan are enrolled in BME PhD program starting from 2021 Fall.

07/2021     Congratulations to Sizhe Huang  on passing his Qualify Exam of BME PhD program!

07/2021     Kayla Felix, Collin Maley and Jacob Naroian  are awarded with Honors Research Grants for their undgergraduate research projects! Congratulations!

05/15/2021     Congratulations to Christine Yao  (Class of BME 2021) on her graduation!

03/29/2021     Dr. Siyuan Rao and Jingyi Qiu expressed their Viewpoint about Material Engineering Platform for Next Generation of Neurobiological Interfaces on Accounts of Materials Research.

03/13/2021     NBI team first campus tour retreat. After COVID-19 lockdown over one full year, we cherish the moment of unity during the challenging pandemic time.

02/02/2021     Dr. Siyuan Rao joined UMass Neuroscience and Behavior (NSB) program as a core faculty member. NSB PhD students are welcomed to find research opportunities in our lab.

01/2021          Collin Maley, Jacob Naroian and Sizhe Huang joined our lab. We are excited to have fresh blood to strengthen our team. Welcome!

01/12/2021     Kayla Felix was selected as Junior Fellow into Junior Fellowship Program at UMass. Congratulations to Kayla!

12/01/2020     NBI Lab opened for bussiness.

2020 Fall semester     Jingyi Qiu, Kayla Felix and Christine Yao joined NBI Lab. We are so pround to have these young women scientists as the first generation of lab members in our team. Welcome!     


Welcome to join our team and find collaborative opportunities

240 Thatcher Rd
Amherst, MA 01003