Robert C. Froemke
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


Ismail Ahmed 

I received my B.S. in Biochemistry from The City College of New York and my Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania. Under the mentorship of Dr. Feng Gai, my Ph.D. research focused on the development and application of unnatural amino acid based-probes for biological spectroscopy and microscopy. Currently, I am interested in how neuropeptides modulate neural circuits and behavior. To this end, for my postdoc I will use an interdisciplinary approach to better understand the neuromodulatory role of oxytocin in the context of social behavior in rodents.


Supported by k00 award from NIMH.



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.


Macayla Donegan
received my B.A. in Neuroscience from Boston University and my Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Behavior from Columbia University.  Both my Ph.D. research and my postdoctoral research focus on how the brain represents information about the social environment, and how social stimuli are represented differently in neuropsychiatric diseases. My graduate work demonstrated that there is altered social coding in a mouse model of schizophrenia, and that this altered social coding and the social deficits seen in this mouse model can be rescued by the TREK-1 inhibitor spadin. During my postdoctoral work I will examine changes in sensory and social representations in mouse models of autism spectrum disorders.


Amy Lemessurier

I received my B.Sc. in biology and neuroscience from MIT and my PhD in neuroscience at UC-Berkeley working under Dan Feldman. My PhD research focused on how naturalistic experience shapes the fine-scale organization of sensory representations in somatosensory cortex. For my postdoc work I am interested in sensorimotor learning in naturalistic contexts – in particular how plasticity in sensory cortical circuits supports learning of complex behaviors by social transmission.




Soomin Song

I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Biology and the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Ph.D. in Biology with a Concentration in Neurobiology. My graduate work was done in the lab of Charles Wilson, Ph.D., where I studied intrinsic properties of striatal interneurons. I followed up with a short Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the lab of Nicolas X. Tritsch, Ph.D., looking at the involvement of midbrain dopaminergic neurons in learning and motivated behavior. I am interested in studying how the connectivity and makeup of microcircuits affect information processing in a nucleus. Using crystalline structures such as the auditory cortex, basic principles could be applied to many other brain regions. 


Janani Sundararajan
I received my B.Eng in Biomedical Engineering from the National University of Singapore and my Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Duke University. In my doctoral work in Dr. Richard Mooney’s lab, I studied the circuit mechanisms underlying movement-related changes in auditory perception. For my postdoctoral work, I am interested in studying how complex and behaviorally relevant sounds are represented in the auditory cortex at the synaptic level. 
Specifically, I am interested in studying how infant distress cries are represented in the auditory cortex at the level of individual synapses and dendritic spines, and how maternal experience influences synaptic plasticity to enhance single neuron responses to infant distress cries.


Silvana Valtcheva

I am interested in the neurophysiological correlates of parenting. I study the mechanisms and neural circuits supporting experience-driven plasticity in the maternal brain that gate the recognition of infant cues and enable oxytocin release. I use in vivo channelrhodopsin-assisted patching of optically-identified oxytocin neurons in awake mice, combined with viral tracing approaches. I investigate the plasticity of auditory responses to natural infant vocalizations in the paraventricular hypothalamus of newly maternal mice. 

I received my PhD in Neuroscience from the University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris, France. My graduate work with Dr. Laurent Venance at Collège de France (Paris) focused on the rules governing spike-timing-dependent plasticity in the rodent striatum and its control by astrocytes and inhibitory networks. 

Supported by a Leon Levy Neuroscience Fellowship.



Graduate Students


Chloe Bair Marshall

I graduated from McMaster University in Canada, where I worked with Deda Gillespie on development of the auditory brainstem. I then went to UCSF, where I worked with Alexandra Nelson on the cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying Parkinson's disease and Levodopa-Induced Dyskinesia. For my graduate work, I am interested in how neuromodulators affect inhibitory cortical interneurons to convey state-dependent information and alter sensory perception. I plan to use a combination of in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology and behavior to better understand neuromodulation of inhibition in the auditory cortex.


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 and fiber photometry in the locus coeruleus to modulate norepinephrine during auditory and cochlear implant learning to further elucidate the role of neural plasticity in cochlear implant use.


Supported by an F30 award from the NIDCD and a Vilcek Foundation Award.


Naomi Lopez Caraballo

I graduated from the 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 learning of maternal behavior through observation in mice, focusing on oxytocin-related modulation of visual cortex activity. Using fiber photometry, single-units recordings, optogenetics, and virtual stimulation, I plan to study further the neural mechanisms underlying cortical plasticity during learning of social behaviors.


Supported by an NSF Predoctoral Fellowship and HHMI Gilliam Fellowship. 


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, 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. 



Supported by an NIH Training Grant.


Patrick O'Neill

I received a B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University.  In collaboration with Dr. Dayu Lin, I am interested in understanding how social experiences alter the function of neural circuits – particularly in the context of parental behaviors.  I plan to use a combination of in vivo recording techniques, functional manipulation approaches, and behavioral experiments to study sensory and conspecific representations in hypothalamic circuits. 


Supported by an NSF Predoctoral Fellowship.



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.




Luisa Schuster

I am interested in understanding the spatio-temporal dynamics of oxytocin as it modulates the neural circuits for maternal and social behavior in naturalistic settings. I am currently working on documenting maternal behaviors in the nest as they are developed while, simultaneously, measuring neural activity on a long-term basis. I studied Law at Universidad Externado de Colombia and received my B.A. in Cognitive Science from UCSD in 2016.


Supported by NSF GRFP.



Laboratory Manager

Saba Shokat Fadaei

I am interested in studying the association within the vagus nerve and social behaviors. I am currently using a combination of behavior and electrophysiology to study the changes in the vagus nerve activity during the social activities. 

I have recieved my masters in Biology from Brooklyn College, CUNY. 






Laboratory Technicians

Maria Alvarado Torres

I graduated from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (RUM) with a B.S. in Industrial Biotechnology. Currently, I work as a Research Associate at the Froemke Lab, Skirball Institute. My current research project focuses on suppressing the firing of oxytocin neurons in transgenic mice using chemogenetics (DREADDs) to understand the role of oxytocin in the acquisition and maintenance of maternal behavior in mice.



Rhonda Kolaric

I am interested in understanding the ways that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and cholinergic system activation might modulate perceptual learning. I use a perceptual discrimination task to examine behavioral responses in mice following VNS, as well as methods of circuit mapping to elucidate the role of cholinergic signaling in VNS-dependent improvements in perceptual discrimination.

I have recieved my BS in psychology from UMass Amherst and am currently a graduate student at NYU focusing in behavioral neuroscience.







Research Fellows

Angela Zhu

I graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Biological Engineering and the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Medical Sciences under a Cancer Research UK Fellowship. Currently, I am a medical student at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Prior to joining the Froemke lab, I did a year of research at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary/Harvard Medical School studying cortical responses to auditory brainstem implant stimulation using 2-photon imaging.I will be investigating the effects of basal forebrain stimulation on auditory task learning in normal hearing and cochlear-implanted animals. By targeting the nucleus basalis, I hope to further our understanding of acetylcholine neuromodulation on auditory plasticity in cochlear implant users.

Supported by HHMI Medical Research Fellows Program. 



Olga Mavridis
Haohan (Karen) Wei - Undergraduate student at NYU majoring in Biology and minoring in Nutrition




- Postdoctoral Fellows -

Ioana Carcea (Carcea lab at Rutgers University, Newark) Carcea Lab

Cyan McFarlane (Duke University)

Thorsten Kranz (University of Frankfurt)

Kishore Kuchibhotla (Kuchibhotla lab at Johns Hopkins University) Kuchibhotla Lab

Michele Insanally ( Insanally lab at University of Pittsburgh ) Insanally lab

- Graduate Students -


James D'Amour (now NIH in McBain lab)

Bianca Jones Marlin (now at Columbia in Axel lab)

Ana Raquel Martins

Mariela Mitre (residency at Weill Cornell)

Julia Scarpa (now finishing her MD)


- Medical, Masters, and Undergraduate 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)

Rachel Field

Ritsa Frousios (NYU)

Katie Furman (now graduate student at University of Michigan)

Christine Grosso (now at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine)

Menghan Jin (now at Scripps)

Greena Kim (University of Georgia)

Anna Kuo (Vassar)

Hannah LaBove (University of Miami)

Xiaofei Lin (NYU)

Jovana Maksic (NYU Shanghai)

Joyce Mendozza Navarro (now at NYU)

Egzona Morina (now graduate student at UCL)

Jasmin Multani

Rumi Oyama (Rutgers, Carcea lab)

Eleni Papadoyannis (now graduate student at Princeton University)

Daniel Ramos (Rutgers, Carcea lab)

Wasiq Rashad (Rutgers)

Feliz Reyes (INTEC, Dominican Republic)

Marwa Semerkant (Hunter College)

Ina Shehu (now at CUNY)

Emilio Soto (now at UC Berkeley, Kriegsfeld lab)

Tom Hindmarsh Sten (now graduate student 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