Lab Members with Bios

Gaby Maimon
Associate Professor
email: maimon at mail dot rockefeller dot edu
I have a longstanding interest in integrative/cognitive brain processes. In my early career, through graduate school, I studied this topic in primates, where I aimed to better understanding how actions are initiated through neurophysiological recordings in awake, behaving monkeys. As a post-doc I transitioned to studying Drosophila, where I developed a preparation that allows one to record the electrical activity of neurons during locomotor (tethered flight or walking) behavior for the first time. My lab uses this preparation, alongside behavioral and anatomical experiments, to understand how flies make behavioral decisions. The long term goal of this work is to use Drosophila to develop a deeper, cellular and molecular, understanding of higher brain functions, from behavior, through electrophysiology, to molecular mechanisms that govern the dynamics of neural circuits. Such an understanding in a tiny brain could provide a blueprint for more complete understandings of cognitive brain functions in larger brains, such as our own.

Anmo Kim
Postdoctoral Fellow
email: akim03 at mail dot rockefeller dot edu
I am interested in why and how we perceive the world differently depending on the context (e.g., tickled by others vs. by yourself). Recently, I, along with my colleagues, have uncovered pervasive, quantitatively tuned top-down signals (efference copies) in the fruit fly visual system, which help them briefly suppress visual perception during self-generated flight turns.Outside of the lab, I usually have fun playing with my kids, Gian and Yena, in parks and museums. I received BS from Sung-kyun-kwan University, MS from Seoul National University, and PhD from Columbia University.

Arun Chakravorty
Research Assistant
email: achakravor at mail dot rockefeller dot edu
My interests in research first began at Cornell University when I joined iGEM, a synthetic biology project team. I was fascinated by the ability to bring novel properties to organisms simply by engineering their genetics. Eventually, I became Wet Lab Team Leader of Cornell iGEM as well as an undergraduate researcher in the Angenent Lab. I joined the Maimon Lab to continue learning about molecular genetics, but also to explore neuroscience. I am especially excited by Neuroscience’s interdisciplinary nature. Currently in lab I am working on using molecular biology to generate new Drosophila lines and new genetic tools. I am also working on understanding egg laying choice. On the side, I enjoy singing and playing the piano & guitar. I am also an Evening Music Production & Composition student at Juilliard. During my time at the Maimon Lab, I hope to explore more aspects of neuroscience and research and eventually want to go into academic medicine.

Atsuko Adachi
Research Specialist
email: aadachi at mail dot rockefeller dot edu
After receiving a B.S. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from University of Tokyo in 1984, I went on to study the plant RNA virus, Tobacco Mosaic Virus, and earned an M.S. in Biochemistry and Biophysics in 1986 from the University of Tokyo.I was previously a Research Specialist at the Struhl lab at Columbia University and the Steller lab at Rockefeller University, where I contributed to research with Drosophila microinjection & genetics. I joined the Maimon lab in 2014 and am currently studying anatomical connection of neurons of Drosophila brain with genetics, immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy.I have loved classical ballet since I was 2 years old.

Bennett Ferris
Graduate Fellow
email: bferris at mail dot rockefeller dot edu
I earned a B.S. in Chemical Biology from Brown University. There I worked in the laboratory of Jason Sello, synthesizing anti-viral small molecules.I joined the Maimon lab as a graduate student in 2014. Since then, I have focused on understanding spontaneous behavior in Drosophila. Initially, I searched for neurons that were required for flies to make spontaneous turns during flight, but whose activity was dispensable for visually evoked turns. Currently I am studying neurons that provide input to Drosophila’s internal compass, a system analogous to Head Direction cells in vertebrates, in the hopes that this might bring me closer to understanding the neurons that underlie navigational decisions in Drosophila. Outside of lab, I am one of the co-directors for the Summer Neuroscience Program, a two-week course for New York City high school students who attend underserved public schools. I also enjoy skiing, running, watching sports, playing word games, and seeing – and very occasionally performing – improv and stand-up comedy.

Cheng Lyu
Graduate Fellow
email: clyu at mail dot rockefeller dot edu
I earned my B.S. (2012) and M.S. (2015) degree in physics from Peking University, China, where I focused on quantitatively understanding the stochastic effects in gene regulatory networks. In the Maimon Lab, I am interested in understanding neural circuits that underlie a variety of the behaviors in Drosophila.Outside the lab, I enjoy listening to the sound of rain and reading historical books. I especially enjoy doing both simultaneously.

Eduardo Dias-Ferreira
Postdoctoral Fellow
email: eferreira at mail dot rockefeller dot edu
During my Ph.D., working in the laboratories of Nuno Sousa (University of Minho, Portugal) and Rui Costa (first at the National Institutes of Health, MD, USA, and finally at the newly created Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Portugal), we discovered that stress promotes a bias toward the execution of habits versus goal-directed actions. Using rodents as an animal model, we also found structural and functional changes in frontostriatal circuits that allowed the design of an optogenetic-mediated rescue of goal-directed behavior in stressed animals. Still it felt like we were only scratching the surface because of the numerical complexity of the mammalian brain. Therefore, I became interested in more tractable circuit motifs that can be found in Drosophila. During my postdoc, I am developing a behavioral platform in which cognitive phenomena can be linked to neural dynamics. Inspired by learning theory, my goal is to track which variables an organism uses when learning the relation between events.

Itzel Gonzalez Ishida
Graduate Fellow
email: igonzalezi at mail dot rockefeller dot edu
B.S, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (2014)Inspired by the navigational feats of desert ants and honeybees, I aim to understand how insect brains keep track of traveled distance or elapsed time. How is the output of multiple sensory modalities, such as vision and proprioception, integrated into a single quantitative estimate of an abstract entity? I am developing behavioral tasks to assess whether Drosophila can learn a distance and use it to successfully execute the task, with the goal of seeing their brain perform odometry in real time under the microscope. Weather permitting, I take long walks around the city, frequently ending up at a movie theater or a place with good food. Otherwise, I hibernate wrapped in a blanket watching movies, reading fiction, and/or eating dessert.


Jonathan Green

Graduate Fellow
email: jgreen at mail dot rockefeller dot edu
2017 (expected) Ph.D. in neuroscience, The Rockefeller University
2010 B.Sc. in biochemistry, McGill UniversityI am interested in the emergent properties of multiple neurons interacting together. What can many neurons do as a group, that cannot be explained by looking at any one neuron in isolation? To explore this question, I work on a circuit in Drosophila that tracks the fly’s heading as it navigates a virtual environment. Because the circuit is arranged in a physical ring, the fly’s heading can simply be read out by the location of a peak of activity along this ring. I found that at every point along this ring, there exists one type of neuron that can shift the peak of activity clockwise, and a second type that can shift the activity counterclockwise, allowing the peak of activity to rotate around the ring when the fly turns. The mechanics of how this circuit tracks the fly’s heading is thus a collective property of many neurons interacting together. In addition to how this circuit updates the fly’s heading estimate, I am also interested in how multiple neurons interact together to inform the fly’s navigational decisions.

Lisa Fenk
Postdoctoral Fellow
email: lfenk at mail dot rockefeller dot edu
I am a postdoc in the Maimon Lab. I enjoy studying flies. I also like to study spiders, but right now I am interested in flies. Muscles in flies are cool. There are muscles in spiders, but right now I am interested in the muscles in flies.

Vikram Vijayan
Postdoctoral Fellow
email: vvijayan at mail dot rockefeller dot edu
How do animals organize their actions (over timescales of minutes, hours, or even years) to achieve their goals? I have been tackling this question by observing fruit flies as they (1) make the decision of where to lay their eggs; and (2) make the decision of where to navigate. We have developed tethered preparations for each of these behaviors, and hope to eventually understand the neural principles that underlie goal-directed behavior. I received my BSE in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University and my PhD in Systems Biology from Harvard University.

Lab Alumni

Jonathan Hirokawa The Data Incubator Fellow
Jamie FitzgeraldData Scientist at Jet