is a PhD student in the CUNY Neuroscience Collaborative, a joint program between the
Neuroscience subprogram of Biology and the Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Training Area of Psychology. Broadly, Jake is interested in neural plasticity and behavior. His dissertation research is probing the hippocampal circuit with an aim toward developing a more comprehensive understanding of how the two sides of the hippocampus function- both together and independently. Various models have proposed numerous permutations of the idea that the left side does one thing and right does something else. Jake has developed models based on the idea that the left and right hippocampal hemispheres might, instead, do the same things differently. Surprisingly, animal researchers themselves have placed limits on how useful the rodent hippocampus may be in understanding hemispheric specializations in the human hippocampus since rodents have slightly different inter-hemispheric connectivity. Jake’s work has been chipping away at these suppositions and showing how the left and right hippocampus in mice are in fact not unlike the left and right hippocampus of humans. At the very least, this puts mice back on the radar for furthering our basic research in bilateral hippocampal function relevant to humans. His proposal to investigate these ideas resulted in an honorable mention for a National Science Foundation predoctoral fellowship award. Jake has a history of turning staid ideas inside out and looking at them anew… an adventurous streak that no doubt will lead to a lifetime of eurekas on numerous levels.
As an undergraduate Behavioral Neuroscience major at Northeastern University, Jake participated in research in 5 labs over 3 years. He contributed to research on how causal and explanatory beliefs of children’s behaviors are represented and how this representation affects categorization, judgments, and decision-making…dabbling in clinical implications. At nearly the same time, he was also applying neural coding theories to zebra fish predation, in the context of understanding how neural circuits generate behavior –a foreshadowing of Jake’s doctoral pursuit of understanding coding, theory, and circuitry in understanding the hippocampus. Jake’s undergraduate research also led him to Belgium as a KU Leuven International Scholar, where he dedicated himself to studies of the neural basis of visual perception, as well as taking seriously his study of Belgium’s world-renown science of craft breweries.
Jake landed at CUNY, attracted to the diverse faculty in the neurosciences, and learned fMRI, electrophysiology, and immunohistochemistry by the time he finished his first year rotations. He is equally adventurous in his teaching of advanced neuroscience lecture and laboratory courses in which he continuously develops new approaches to instilling learning and memory in students, while studying learning and memory in mice.
In addition to a solid core of courses in basic neuroscience, he’s taken classes in Neuroscience & Law, as well as Science Diplomacy. Jake is by nature a humanitarian and activist as well as a scholar. He writes, discusses, thinks (and tweets) about how science can bring about changes in policy. His blog https://nervoustalk.wordpress.com/ ranges from the neuroscience of free will and criminal accountability, an understanding of how any given brain knows where it is, how it got there and how to get to where it wants to go, our experience of Toy Story vs Lost In Translation, as well as a smorgasbord of thoughtful meta-thoughts: the science of science and ideas about ideas. Jake’s interests are as diverse and eclectic as CUNY itself and yet taken together have a common cause and direction toward furthering knowledge and improving lives.
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