Student and Alumni Highlights

Current Students

Anfal Abuhilal

Anfal Abuhilal (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Orie Shafer, ASRC

Research Interests: Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience

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Nora Awadallah (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Gonzalo Torres / CCNY CSOM

Research Interests: Regulation of DAT and SERT by receptors/proteins in the brain and gastrointestinal tract; gut-brain axis.

About me: Hi! I’m originally from NY, and did my B.S at the University of Vermont in Neuroscience. There, I studied the impact of chemotherapy on the peripheral olfactory system. I became intrigued by monoamines and neuroinflammatory diseases while taking a specialized class on glial cells at UVM. This led me to the University of Florida where I joined the lab of Gonzalo Torres. At the end of my second year there, our lab moved to CUNY/CCNY! I’m interested in how different GPCRs impact DAT and SERT dynamics, specifically the efflux of neurotransmitters rather than the uptake. With this, I want to develop more specifically targeted drugs for diseases related to monoamine dysregulation. I’m interested in student wellbeing, program administration, and scientific outreach/communication. Outside of the lab, I love to bake (@noras_table on insta!), play my viola, and hike!

Eddy Barrera

Lab/Campus: rotating


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Thelma Bethea (she/her)

Lab / Campus: John Martin / CCNY CSOM

Research Interests: SCI induced Hyperreflexia/Spasticity

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Emily Birnbaum (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Maria Figueriedo Pereira / Hunter College

Research Interests: Drug discovery/repurposing for Alzheimer’s disease

Shristi Bose

Lab / Campus: Rotating


Daniel Brennan (he/his)

Lab / Campus: Junghoon Kim / CCNY

Research Interests: Machine learning & computational approaches for neuroimaging & neuropsychological methods in Traumatic Brain Injury




Jessica Buthmann (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Yoko Nomura / Queens College

Research Interests: I study the relationship between prenatal stress related to natural disasters and child emotional development.

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Robert Candia

Lab / Campus: Alejandra Alonso / College of Staten Island

Research Interests: Oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s disease




Lizette Couto

Lab / Campus: Gonzalo Torres & Patricia Cortes / CCNY CSOM

Research Interests: The effects of drugs of abuse on DNA damage and repair

About me: I’m a third year Neuroscience PhD student at the CUNY School of Medicine campus. I obtained a BS in Chemistry at St. John’s University and a Master’s in Biomedical Sciences/Neuroscience at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. I’m interested in studying preventative approaches to neurological diseases such as drug addiction and neurodegeneration by investigating the genomic integrity of neuronal cells. But outside the realm of science, I love creating music, bingeing crime shows and playing card games.

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Lucy Denholtz

Lab / Campus: Ekaterina Likhtik / Hunter College

Kathryn Fasano

Lab / Campus: Rotating


Naomi Gaggi (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Junghoon Kim / CCNY

Research Interest: Traumatic Brain Injury; Noninvasive Brain Stimulation; Magnetic Resonance Imaging


Carolina Fernandes Henriques


Carolina Fernandes Henriques (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Ekaterina Likhtik / Hunter College

Research Interests: Behavioral neuroscience

About Me: I graduated with a BSc in Biology from the University of Lisbon, and a double MSc in Neuroscience from the Free University Amsterdam and the University of Bordeaux. Before joining the CUNY Neuroscience Collaborative I worked at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, investigating circuits underlying motivation in mice. My dissertation work focuses on the mechanisms underlying fear extinction by using a combination of behavior, tracing, electrophysiology, and optogenetic circuit manipulation. Outside the lab, I enjoy napping in the sun, playing volleyball, and watching Oscar-snubbed movies

Andrew Garcia

Lab / Campus: Rotating

Claudia Garcia Jou

Claudia Garcia Jou (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Peter Serrano / Hunter College

Research Interests: Learning and Memory

About me: I was born and raised in Barcelona. After a long career as a professional high jumper, I do now what I love most! To study how memories can be encoded in the brain for a lifetime.

Itamar Grunfeld

Itamar S. Grunfeld

Lab / Campus: Ekaterina Likhtik, Hunter College

Mihwa Kang

Mihwa Kang (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Guillem Esber / Brooklyn College

Research Interests: Cognitive neuroscience – decision making/learning


Scott Koenig


Scott Koenig (he/his)

Lab / Campus: Yu Gao / Brooklyn College

Research Interests: Morality, emotion, psychopathy, social cognition





Rhonda Kolaric (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Susana Mingote, ASRC

Research Interests: Neuroscience

About Me: I am a doctoral student in the CNC biology subprogram. I have several years of experience conducting research at NYU Langone’s Skirball Institute using animal models and a variety of histological, biochemical, and imaging techniques. My interest is in feeding behavior, stress, and neuromodulation and plasticity of the cerebral cortex.

Liat Kofler

Liat Kofler (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Yu Gao / Brooklyn College

Research Interests:Investigating the social and biological correlates of antisocial behavior and psychopathic traits

About Me: Liat is a doctoral student in the Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience program at CUNY Graduate Center. She earned her B.S. in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Psychology from the University of Waterloo. Liat is investigating the social and biological correlates of antisocial behavior and psychopathic traits.

Jinah lee

Jinah Lee (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Nesha Burghardt, Hunter College

Research Interests: Neural mechanism and reward learning in the basal ganglia

About Me: Hello, all! I’m Jinah Lee and I’m a ‘resident alien’ in NYC. I’m from South Korea, love cats, spicy foods, and rock music.

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Nicole La Massa

Lab / Campus: Greg Phillips / College of Staten Island

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Yuka Miura

Lab / Campus: Allyson Friedman, Hunter College


Viktoriya Morozova

Lab / Campus: Alejandra Alonso, College of Staten Island


May Mostafa

Lab / Campus: Rotating

Cayla Murphy

Lab / Campus: Rotating

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Kelechi Ndukwe

Lab / Campus: Maria Pereira, Hunter College

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Melissa Nelson (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Diana Reiss / Hunter College

Research Interests: Applied Behavior Modification and Zoo Animal Welfare

About Me: I work full time for the Bronx Zoo as the Asst Curator of Behavioral Husbandry. I’ve been in the professional animal training field for over 20 years and am passionate about improving the lives and welfare of animals using science-based methods.

Demetrios Neophytou

Demetrios Neophytou (he/his)

Lab / Campus: Hysell Oviedo / CCNY

Research InterestsI am interested in the development and function of auditory cortical circuits within the mouse model system.


Evan Owens (he/his)

Lab / CampusRobert Duncan / York College

Research Interests: Behavioral Neuroscience

About Me: My name is Evan Owens and I am a PhD student at The Graduate Center. I teach cognitive and introductory psychology at York College. My current research utilizes principles of immersive , virtual reality technology to investigate the neural circuitry underlying bodily self and awareness.

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Kimberly Page (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Carolyn Pytte and Cheryl Harding

Research Interests: Brain inflammation and decreased adult neurogenesis following mold exposure

About Me: I am a proud science mommy and supporter of women and moms in science. I have 4 littles under 8 years old, and with my partner, we enjoy hiking, gardening and stargazing. We have 3 parrots: 2 African Greys and 1 Umbrella Cockatoo that regularly crash CUNY Zoom sessions, and otherwise. Stop in to BrainE hour and say “Hi” to Corky!


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Jasmine Pathan (she/her)

Lab / Campus: John Martin/ CCNY CSOM

Research Interests:Using neuromodulation for motor recovery post spinal cord injury

About Me: Hello! I’m a neuroscience PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. John H. Martin at the Center for Discovery and Innovation researching spinal cord injury. I spent most of my childhood in the concrete jungle of New York City before venturing out to the West Coast for college. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Washington, then moved back to New York City to pursue my graduate studies where I examine the mechanistic underpinnings of neural activity on neuron viability after spinal cord injury. During my free time, I like doing Pilates to stay active, reading non-fiction books, master baking different desserts, and taking my cockatiel on walks in the park. Outside of the lab, I enjoy volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation center and taking advantage of all the diverse cuisines the city has to offer! Connect with me on Twitter!

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Zachary Saccomano

Lab / Campus: Asohan Amarasingham / City College of New York

Anika Sanjana

Lab / Campus: Sebastian Alvarado/Maral Tajerian, Queens College

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Alison Shur

Lab / Campus: Alejandra Alonso, College of Staten Island

Julie Sonsini

Lab / Campus: Zaghloul Ahmed, College of Staten Island

Mentor: Prof. Zaghloul Ahmed

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Angela Steele

Lab / Campus: Peter Serrano, Hunter College

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Jacquelyn N. Tomaio (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Susana Mingote, ASRC

Research Interests: Behavioral neuroscience, neuromodulation and neurophysiology


Santiago Uribe-Cano (he/him)

Lab / Campus: Andreas Kottmann / CCNY CSOM

Research Interests: Dopaminergic Co-transmission and Reinforcement Learning.

About Me: Santiago grew up in Houston, Texas before moving to upstate New York. He received his B.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York at Geneseo and his M.A. in Psychology from New York University where he studied the relationship between sleep disturbances and cognitive impairment. When not in the lab, he can be found playing soccer, camping on a mountain, eating candy, or watching the Mets.

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Apoorva Vashisht

Lab / Campus: Robert Ranaldi, Queens College

Robert Veline

Lab / Campus: Orie Shafer, Advanced Research Science Center

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Jennifer Wheary (she/her)

Lab / Campus: Tony Ro / GC

Research Interests: The impact of meditation on sensory experience.

Ezekiel Willerson

Lab / Campus: Rotating

Zhilin Zhang

Lab / Campus: Rotating



Mary Regis Shanley


Regis Shanley (2021)

Lab/Campus: Allyson Friedman, Hunter College

Thesis Title: Estrogen Modulation of VTA Dopamine Neuron Physiology and Behavioral Responsivity to Variable Social Stressors.

Position after Ph.D.: Postdoctoral Fellow at Brandeis University


Headshot: Rebecca Ravenelle, neuroscience alumni


Rebecca Ravenelle (2021)

Lab/Campus: Nesha Burghardt, Hunter College

Thesis Title: Circuits Underlying Serotonin Mediated Sex Differences in Fear Learning

Position after Ph.D.: Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University

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Michael Lewis Epstein (2020)

Lab / Campus: Tatiana Emmanouil / Baruch

Thesis title: The Temporal Dynamics of Ensemble Perception

Position after Ph.D. : Postdoctoral Associate, Department for Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University

Jonathan T. Perelmuter

Jonathan T. Perelmuter (2019)

Lab / Campus: Paul Forlano / Brooklyn College

Thesis title: Structure and Function of Dopamine in the Inner Ear and Auditory Efferent System of a Vocal Fish

Position after Ph.D. : Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University

Mercedes Vega Villar

Mercedes Vega Villar (2019)

Lab / Campus: Jon Horvitz / City College of New York

Thesis title: Experience-Dependent Changes in Nucleus Accumbens Activity Predict Cued Approach Learning: Contribution of NMDA Receptors

Position after Ph.D. : Post-doctoral Fellow, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Antonio V. Aubry

Antonio V. Aubry (2018)

Lab / Campus: Nesha Burghardt / Hunter College

Thesis title: Dietary Curcumin Promotes Resilience to Chronic Social Defeat Stress

Position after Ph.D. : Postdoctoral Fellow at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai