Assistant Professor, Psychology (begins Jan. 1, 2020)
I study the neural circuits that underlie the production of animal vocalizations. In particular, I research how and when mice produce their ultrasonic courtship vocalizations. So, basically, I study mouse love songs. The big picture relevance of studying mouse love songs is two-fold. First, I hope to understand how brains encode information about social context, which allows an animal to decide which type of vocalization to produce, or whether or not to vocalize in the first place. Second, whether you’re a mouse or a human, vocalizing requires the coordination of vocal muscle movements with breathing. It remains poorly understood how this works, and I hope to shed light on the brain circuits that underlie this process by studying them in the mouse.
Current research project:
We recently identified a specialized population of midbrain neurons that act as a gate for the production of social vocalization in the mouse. In my current project, I’m studying how neurons that lie upstream of these cells interact with the midbrain to either promote or suppress vocalizations.
- Postdoctoral fellow, Neurobiology, Duke University, 2014-2019
- Postdoctoral fellow, Biology, Duke University, 2012-2014
- Ph.D., Neurobiology, Duke University, 2011
- B.A., Biology, Grinnell College, 2005
Last book read:
“Being a Dog” by Alexandra Horowitz
In your own time/when not working:
Chasing kids, running (for fun/exercise, not after kids). So, various forms of running, I suppose.
Courses you’re most looking forward to teaching:
Introduction to Neuroscience, The Neurobiology and Ethology of Vocal Communication (or something along those lines)
What most excites you about Cornell:
The community! I’m really excited to be joining the psychology department- everyone has been incredibly welcoming and helpful. I’m a small-town person at heart, so I’m also really excited to move to Ithaca.
Twitter handle/blog url: