Lab Members


Dr. Nina Patzke

“I am a neuroscientist, with my research focusing on brain evolution. I did my M.Sc in Biochemistry (2005) and my PhD (2009) in Biopsychology, both at the Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany. In 2010 I moved to South Africa and in 2014 to Brazil to conduct studies on the mammalian brain. Since March 2017 I have been at Hokkaido University. Using the comparative neuroanatomical approach on non-model organisms, I would like to understand how the mammalian brain evolved. I am especially interested in the evolution of large brains”

See my short CV


Isabel Fernandez

“I did my Master in Marine Aquaculture at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain). Since I can remember, I have always loved marine animals and aquatic environments. During my Master thesis I discovered my passion for histology. Thanks to a MEXT scholarship and driven by that passion, now I am  studying the neuroanatomy of the Baird’s Beaked Whale  at Nina’s Laboratory (Hokkaido University, Japan). A fulfilling work in a great University with excellent companions”.

See my short CV

Suzuka Iritani

I joined this lab in 2020 as a bachelor student. I am interested in aquatic mammals especially pinnipeds. After completing my bachelor studies on the seal hippocampus, I will continue with my master studies on the seal neuroanatomy. I am currently analyzing the brains of spotted seals and Steller sea lions. I am exited to work on this project.

Nasiba Afrin

I am Nasiba Afrin from Bangladesh. After completing by bachelor’s in Zoology from Bangladesh, I joined as a master’s student in Hokkaido university on 2nd October 2019. I am proud to be part of Patzke lab. It is a very nice place where students of different countries work. I always love animals and now I get the opportunity to work on marine animals in this lab. I am interested to work on the neuroanatomy of cetaceans.

Aya Komemura

I am 4th senior at Hokkaido University and I joined Prof. Patzke’s laboratory in April 2021. I am interested in how underwater environment can influence the evolution of marine mammals. Specifically, I want to understand how different habitats can affect brain evolution.

Kaede Watanabe

In April 2021 I joined this lab. I am interested in neuroscience especially in whales. I would like to study the different types of astrocytes of in the brains of different whale including dolphins. I love animals because my parents often took me to zoos and aquariums. Therefore, I am very excited to learn more about marine mammals.

Deepika Jauhar

I completed my Masters in Life Sciences with a specialisation in Neurobiology from University of Mumbai, India. I’ve always been drawn to marine biology, especially behaviour of marine mammals. What I find fascinating is that despite their striking differences in neuroanatomy, whales show behavioural patterns similar to those of higher land mammals. I joined this lab in April 2021as a research student, and am interested in looking into the functioning of whale brains so as to understand the reasons behind their unusual anatomy.

Yingxue Guan

I got a Bachelor’s degree in China, my major was Food Science and Engineering. After graduation, I developed a strong interested in brain evolution, therefore I joined this lab in April 2021 as a research student. It is so nice to join this lab and get this wonderful opportunity to learn.

Technical staff

Phua Yong Heng

Phua is an undergraduate student at the Faculty of Life Science who is assisting us in the laboratory.


Mahmutjan Dawut
Hinako Katsushima &
Masakazu Hoshino
Asa Watanabe
Zhu Yao
Minasa Kasai
Jinta Kasai