People

PI

 
Robert C. Froemke
 
Our lab studies neuromodulation and plasticity of the cerebral cortex. We generally focus on the functional consequences of changes to synaptic transmission and neural circuits, in terms of behavioral improvements and enhanced sensory perception.
 
I performed my PhD studies at UC Berkeley and my postdoctoral research at UCSF. Biosketch is here.
 
 

Postdoctoral Fellows

 
Ioana Carcea
I am interested in the reciprocal synaptic communication between higher order brain structures governing complex cognitive and executive functions and the more primitive compartments of the brain which control innate or simple-conditioned behaviors.
 
I gained my MD degree from the University Gr. T. Popa in Iasi, Romania and my PhD from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. My doctoral thesis addressed the molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for the heterogeneous responses of cortical axons to guidance cues. I also investigated the anatomical and electrophysiological deficits in the somatosensory cortex of a mouse model for autism spectrum disorders. 

 Supported by a K99 award from NIMH.

 
Michele Insanally 
I'm interested in understanding how information is organized in neural circuits. I study this in the context of perceptual decision making in rodents using the following techniques 1) tetrode recordings from freely moving rats performing an auditory cue-driven task and 2) novel analytical methods for trial-to-trial decoding of spike trains.
 
I received my PhD in Neuroscience from the University of California, Berkeley, where I worked in the laboratory of Shaowen Bao. My doctoral work examined cortical plasticity in the developing primary auditory cortex using multiunit recordings. Prior to graduate school, I worked with Andre Fenton, Tarique Perera and Jeremy Coplan studying the effects of neurogenesis on a hippocampal-dependent spatial navigation task in rodents. I received my B.A. in the Biological Sciences from Barnard College/Columbia University in 2004.

Supported by a K99 award from NIDCD.

 
Thorsten Kranz

I study the biochemical properties of oxytocin signaling in the central nervous system of mice and perform a proteomic interaction partner profiling in brain regions relevant for social interaction. I am further interested in the molecular cross talk of the oxytocin and neurotrophin signaling pathways and how they are potentially causal for the etiology of neuropsychiatric disorders, namely autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia, using stereotactic injections of oxytocin in the mouse brain followed by behavioral assessment.

I received my PhD in Human Genetics and Neuroscience at University of Trier, Germany. In my doctoral thesis, I explored the genetic association of the oxytocin receptor and two other candidate genes with autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia in trios and large families. During my PhD, I worked in the lab of Ron de Kloet from University of Leiden, Netherlands and in the Immunology department of Claude P. Muller from Luxemburg Institute of Health. I did my undergraduate work at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, Germany in the lab of Eckhard Friauf on transport activity and biochemical properties of KCC2 in the developing auditory system of rats.

 
Kishore Kuchibhotla

I am interested in the neural circuit dynamics of perceptual learning in the auditory cortex. Specifically, how does behavioral context alter sensory perception and learning? I am using three complementary tools in behaving mice to address this issue: 1) two-photon calcium imaging to measure circuit output, 2) whole-cell patch clamp to assess network input onto single neurons, and 3) optogenetics to manipulate network function. 

 I have a PhD in Biophysics from Harvard University where I worked in the laboratories of Brian Backsai and Brad Hyman.  My doctoral thesis explored the structural and functional degeneration of cortical networks in Alzheimer's Disease using in vivo two-photon calcium imaging.  I received my undergraduate degrees in Physics and Brain/Cognitive Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Kishore will soon be starting his lab at John's Hopkins University. Please visit his website for more information: www.kishorelab.org

Supported by a K99 award from NIDCD.

 

Silvana Valtcheva

I am interested in experience-dependent plasticity and more precisely, in the mechanisms of oxytocin release in the brain triggered by natural stimuli. I am using in vivo whole-cell recordings in hypothalamus of behaving rodents combined with optogenetics to explore how oxytocin neurons are regulated by social experience. My project aims at connecting synaptic plasticity and neuromodulation of oxytocin neurons to learning and social behavior.

I received my PhD in Neuroscience from the University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris, France. During my PhD, I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Laurent Venance at Collège de France, Paris. My doctoral thesis explored the fundamental features of spike-timing-dependent plasticity and its control by GABAergic signaling and astrocytic glutamate uptake.

Supported by a Fondation Fyssen postdoctoral fellowship.

 

Christian Laut Ebbesen

I want to know more about how neural activity gives rise to complex behavior, such as social behavior. Correctly navigating the social world is of massive ecological importance, but we still know very little about how the mammalian brain integrates multifaceted sensory information to generate healthy social behavior. In my work, I focus on the oxytocin system and use a combination of experimental and computational tools to study and manipulate neural activity during social behavior in mice.

I received my PhD in Neurobiology from the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany. I did my doctoral research in the laboratory of Michael Brecht at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience and I was associated with the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. During my PhD, I worked on the cortical control of rat whisker movements in the context of rat social facial touch and on spatial and temporal coding in parahippocampal cortex. I received my undergraduate degrees in physics/biophysics from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

 

 

 

Graduate Students

 
Jonathan Gill 
I study how expectation and experience alter sensory representations. In collaboration with Dmitry Rinberg, I use 2-photon imaging, optogentics and behavioral experiments to explore how neuromodulatory systems support changes in sensory perception in both the auditory and olfactory systems. 

I received my B.A. in Psychology from NYU in 2008 before working as a research technician in the labs of Dr. George Alvarez at Harvard University and Dr. Ann Graybiel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 
 

Erin Glennon

I graduated from Columbia University with a BA in Neuroscience and Behavior and honors in Biology. Now I’m part of the Medical Scientist Training Program at NYU and am interested in translational research in otolaryngology and neurology. I am pursuing these interests in the Froemke lab by studying the neural response of the auditory cortex to cochlear implants. Specifically, I am using optogenetics in the locus coeruleus to modulate norepinephrine during learning to further elucidate the role of neural plasticity in cochlear implant use.

 

 
Katie Martin
I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2013 with a degree in Biology. Prior to starting graduate school, I worked with Josh Dudman at Janelia Research Campus studying basal ganglia circuits underlying reward seeking behavior. For my graduate work, in collaboration with Nic Tritsch, I'm interested in how neuromodulatory signaling affects sensorimotor learning. I'm using a combination of behavior and electrophysiology to study learning related changes in cortical, striatal, and thalamic circuits. 
 
Supported by an NSF Predoctoral Fellowship.
 
 
 
 
Jess Minder

I received my B.S. from St. Joseph’s College, and my M.S. from Stony Brook University. For my graduate work, in collaboration with Dr. Moses Chao I am interested in studying the molecular mechanisms of cortical plasticity and functional circuit changes as a result of oxytocinergic signaling over a developmental time course using primary cortical neuron cultures and electrophysiology. 

 

 

Jennifer Schiavo

   

I graduated from Boston College where I majored in Psychology with a concentration in Neuroscience. I am interested in understanding how plasticity in the auditory cortex enables females to recognize and respond to infant distress vocalizations. In addition, I am interested in understanding how neuromodulators, specifically oxytocin, enable cortical plasticity to enhance the behavioral relevance of pup vocalizations. I am using a combination of electrophysiology and in vivo two photon imaging to study these cortical changes.

Supported by an NSF Predoctoral Fellowship.

 

 

 

Naomi Lopez Caraballo

I graduated from University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus with a B.S. in Industrial Biotechnology. Currently, I am part  of the Neuroscience and Physiology program at NYU. For my graduate work, I study how auditory cues receive behavioral  relevance, specifically during maternal behavior in mice. Using auditory augmented reality, behavior and electrophysiology I  plan to further study the neural mechanisms underlying cortical plasticity.

 

 

Laboratory Manager

Eleni Papadoyannis

I am interested in the dynamics that enable learning. Currently, I study the effects of vagus nerve stimulation on plasticity in behaving mice. Previously, I explored how sensory perception is modulated by context-dependent behavior in mice with further examination of the dissociation between the acquisition and expression of knowledge. I graduated with a B.S. in Neural Science from New York University.

 

 

 

 

Laboratory Technicians

Rachel Field 

I study excitatory-inhibitory balance in the temporal lobe. Specifically, I am interested in how we can repair excitatory-inhibitory balance in order to prevent seizures in patients who suffer from temporal lobe epilepsy. I am using in vitro whole-cell recordings as well as optogenetics to explore this question.

I graduated from Columbia University with a degree in mathematics and statistics. As an undergraduate at Columbia, I worked with Attila Losonczy studying the electrophysiological differences in the sublayers of the hippocampal pyramidal layer.

 

Ina Shehu

 I am currently working on my Bachelor's Degree in Neurobiology and Neurosciences from City University of New York - Hunter College.  My main focus is to understand the role of neurplasticity in improved usage of cochlear implants. 

 

 

 

 

Jasmin Multani

I recently graduated from New York University with a Bachelor's in Neural Science. I am interested in how behavior can be "rescued" by alternative molecular pathways. In the future, I would like to understand the biomolecular changes by punishment that suppress behavior and eventually test how these rescuing pathways can be applied to rehabilitate cognition.

 

 

 

 

Joyce Mendozza Navarro

I'm currently culminating my Bachelor's degree in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. I will continue my studies at NYU Sackler Institute's PhD program in August 2018. I am studying what social interactions and sensory stimuli lead to plasticity and behavioral changes in naive virgin female mice. My general interests aim to question how neuroplasticity modulates emotions and memories that lead to complex behavior.

 

 

Daniel Ramos

I graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a B.S. in Natural Sciences and a concentration in Human Physiology. During that time, I worked as a Study Coordinator and Research Assistant in a study in physiatry, which considered blood glucose level changes after facet joint, epidural steroid, and trigger point injections. I am interested in how the effects of oxytocin blood levels correlate to behavior and social cognition.

 

 

Volunteers

Juelle Chichester-Clyne

Kristen Giannuzzi

Katie Furman

Ilinca Giosan

Haidi Risto

Marwa Semerkant

 

 

Alumni

 

Graduate students:
 

James D'Amour (now NIH in McBain lab)

 

Bianca Jones Marlin (now at Columbia in Axel lab)

 

Ana Raquel Martins

 

Mariela Mitre (now finishing her MD)

 

Julia Scarpa (now finishing her MD)

 


Undergraduate/Masters/Medical students: 

 

James Barger (NYU)

 

Jane Belyavskaya (SUNY Downstate Medical)

 

Jordan Carboy (UT Southwestern)

 

Anja Dorrn (now at Max Delbruck Center Berlin, Poulet lab)

 

Ugomma Eze (now at UCSF)

 

Ritsa Frousios (NYU)

 

Christine Grosso (now at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine)

 

Menghan Jin (now at Scripps)

 

Anna Kuo (Vassar)

 

Hannah LaBove (U Miami)

 

Xiaofei Lin (NYU)

 

Cyan McFarlane (now at Beer Sheva Medical School)

 

Egzona Morina (now at UCL)

 

Wasiq Rashad (Rutgers)

 

Feliz Reyes (INTEC, Dominican Republic)

 

Emilio Soto (now at UC Berkeley, Kriegsfeld lab)

 

Tom Hindmarsh Sten (now at Rockefeller University)

 

Nesibe Temiz (now at FMI, Basel)

 

Chloe Verducci (Mt. Holyoke)

 

Natalya Zaika (now at Tufts)

 

Xinying Zhang (NYU Shanghai)

 

 

High school students:

 

Regana Alicka

 

Caroline Ault

 

Veronika Azzara

 

Nina Bhatia

 

Debby Cheng (now at Princeton)

 

Venus Fu

 

Harrison Lu (now at Wash U)

 

Amanda Maria

 

Jennifer Moskowitz

 

Daniel Rebibo (now at UCSD)

 

Cormac Thorpe