Ryugo Lab - Auditory Anatomy & Physiology
Garvan Insititute of Medical Research
Lab Members
David K. Ryugo, PhD
Tan Pongstaporn, BS
Electron Microscopist
Michael Muniak, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Catherine Connelly, BS
Doctoral Student
Kirupa Suthakar, BSc
Doctoral Student
Femi Ayeni, MBBS, MSc
Doctoral Student
Giedre Milinkeviciute, MSc
Doctoral Student
Sam Kirkpatrick, BEng
Masters Student
Annie Cho, BSc
Research Assistant

Lab Alumni


Level 9 Lab 2
384 Victoria St
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
ph: +61 2 9295 8288
fx: +61 2 9295 8281


Catherine Connelly, BS

Doctoral Student

c.connelly [at] garvan.org.au

I was born and raised in the east coast American state of Maryland, where Old Bay and crabs are a way of life. I spent most of my years in a small town called Fallston, about 40 minutes north of The Wire TV show set, otherwise known as Baltimore City. I led an active childhood. I was involved in ballet and dance, and played various sports before I settled on field hockey and lacrosse, both of which I continued playing into college for my university teams.

I went to a small school outside of Baltimore, named Stevenson University for my undergraduate degree. Having always had an interest in the sciences, I took up a degree in Biology, mainly to fulfill to my own curiosities, but debatably due to genetics. Growing up with a father as a physician and a mother as a molecular biologist, my youthful questions about the world were often followed by explanations chock-full of science and math. Overwhelming as it may sound, I found, and still find, these types of answers appealing, sensible, and exciting. Science became my way to understand the world, and so I embarked on a career of scientific learning.

I completed my undergraduate senior honors research project at Johns Hopkins University under the mentorship of Dr. Ryugo, who afterwards gave me a position as his Research Assistant. I worked at Hopkins for about 5 years before being imported to Australia to continue work with Dr. Ryugo. Then in 2012 I began my PhD in Sydney at The University of New South Wales Australia in the Ryugo Lab. Some say Dave can’t get rid of me, but maybe it’s that I can’t get rid of Dave…either way I am very fortunate.

My doctoral work is a reflection of my interest in central auditory plasticity. I spend my days characterizing the anatomical and morphological changes that occur in the brain with a hearing loss. I use three different strains of mice as models for my work, each with varying degrees of hearing and hearing loss: ‘normal’ hearing, early onset hearing loss, and congenital deafness. Some days I enjoy the challenges of tracer dye injections, while on others I fiddle with immunohistochemistry protocols and light and electron microscopy techniques. In the end want to understand how the brain changes when it is deprived of auditory sensory input, with hopes to improve treatment strategies in the future.

Outside of the lab, I continue to stay very active. I play lacrosse for NSW, and have dabbled in field hockey, basketball, and rock climbing while living in Sydney. However, taking in the Australian landscape seems to suit me well. Between hiking and scuba diving (a recent endeavor of mine), I am able to stay a happy doctoral student.