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We represent a team of scientists with expertise ranging from molecular biology to engineering to animal behavior to computation. We aim for scientific excellence through strong mentorship, teamwork, and through the collective representation of a diversity of backgrounds, interests, and expertise.

Lab Members

Priya Rajasethupathy, M.D., Ph.D.

Jonathan M Nelson Family Associate Professor

Head of Laboratory


Alessandra Bonito-Oliva, Ph.D.

Lab Manager/Senior Research Associate



Priya grew up in Upstate New York. She obtained her B.S. from Cornell University, and an M.D.,Ph.D., in Neuroscience in 2013 from Columbia University with Eric Kandel. She did her post-doctoral work at Stanford University with Karl Deisseroth. She joined The Rockefeller University as an assistant professor in 2017. She enjoys sports, cooking, biographies, being with friends and family, and she tries to make time for yoga.


Alessandra was born and raised in Italy, where she earned her Ph.D in Psychobiology and Psychopharmacology working on mouse models of drug addiction. She then moved to the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, where she set up a novel mouse model to study non motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease. In 2015 Alessandra was recruited by Dr. Sakmar to join his group at The Rockefeller University, where she developed an innovative platform technology for the generation of antibody-based therapeutics and diagnostics for Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. In 2020 Alessandra joined the Rajasethupathy lab, where she works as senior research associate and lab manager. Outside of lab, she likes sport, reading and cooking.

John "Jak" Fak

Research Specialist


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John “Jak” Fak earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan in 1995 and his master’s at NYU in 2001. Jak has over 20 years of experience as a Research Specialist. at Rockefeller University. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, two daughters and golden retriever. Enjoys traveling, running, hiking, scuba diving and drawing.

Andrew Luskin, Ph.D. 

Hess Postdoctoral Fellow

Ph.D,  University of Washington 



Andrew joined the Rajasethupathy Lab in 2022 after earning his bachelor's degree in biology from Washington University in St. Louis and his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Washington. As a graduate student, he studied limbic and brainstem circuitry involved in affective behavior and cognitive arousal. In the Rajasethupathy Lab, Andrew studies how the basic biology of neurons contributes to the large-scale neural dynamics that generate working memory and attention. Andrew was awarded the Carl B. Hess Postdoctoral Fellowship to support his work in researching mechanisms of short-term memory.

Yujin Harada, Ph.D.

JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow

Ph.D, University of Tokyo, Japan



Yujin was born and raised in Japan and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Tokyo. He joined the Rajasethupathy Lab in 2022. He is interested in the molecular and cellular basis of the development of neural circuits that regulate cognitive behaviors. Outside of the lab, he enjoys cooking, drinking, and watching baseball games.

Genelle Rankin, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ph.D, Harvard University



Genelle completed her PhD in Neurobiology in the lab of David Ginty at Harvard Medical School. In the Rajasethupathy lab, she is studying thalamocortical circuits involved in memory maintenance. Outside of lab you can find her hanging with her cat, reading, birding, and trying out new breweries.

Leslie Sibener, Ph.D.

Simons Postdoctoral Fellow

Ph.D, Columbia University



Leslie grew up in Chicago. She received her BA and BS in Creative Writing and Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University, and completed her PhD in Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University in Rui Costa's Lab. In the Rajasethupathy Lab, she is interested in exploring the underlying mechanisms that select specific memories for long-term storage in the brain. Outside of the lab, Leslie is passionate about writing poetry, hitting the trails at national parks, and enjoying a pot of tea with friends.

Andrea Terceros,

Kavli Graduate Fellow



Manoj Kumar, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ph.D, CSIR – Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, India


Growing up in India, particularly in Delhi, Manoj was drawn to both sports and the mysteries of science, with biology captivating his interest early on. His academic journey led him to pursue a B.Sc. and Masters in Biochemistry at the University of Delhi, followed by a PhD at CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) under Dr. Debojyoti Chakraborty. Manoj is passionate about gene editing, and his research focuses on understanding molecular pathways in memory maintenance. Beyond the lab, he is a scientist who relishes outdoor adventures, sports, photography, culinary experimentation, and creative expression. He also cherishes the joy of hearty laughter!

James Brandt,

Graduate Fellow

Zachary Gershon,

Graduate Fellow



Zach is a New Yorker through and through. He grew up on Long Island and then earned his undergraduate degree in behavioral neurobiology from CUNY Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. Zach’s interests in neuroscience and genetics stem from his own experiences with learning disabilities, which spurred him to understand why his brain worked differently from those around him. At Hunter, he worked on gene expression in mammalian olfactory systems, and studied fast axonal transport using the squid giant axon at the Marine Biological Laboratory. Zach’s research in the Rajasethupathy Lab intersects systems genetics, molecular neuroscience, and systems neuroscience to investigate the functional consequences of genetic variation on cognition. Outside his research interests, Zach serves as Education Officer in the Tri-Institutional Science & Education Policy Association and as the Chair of Accessibility and Neurodiversity for the Rockefeller Inclusive Science Initiative. When not in lab, he can be found attending theatrical performances, practicing yoga, or training in the circus arts (especially fire spinning).

Celine Chen,

Tri-I M.D./Ph.D. Student



Andrea completed a BSc. in neuroscience at McGill University in 2018. During her undergraduate years, she worked with Drosophila melanogaster to understand how neural circuits underlying innate behaviors are wired up. Through her various summer internships, in both Europe and the US, Andrea was able to gain research experience which motivated her to pursue graduate studies. A question that has always puzzled her is how memories persist for years or even a life-time? Andrea’s project aims to unveil the transcriptional programs underlying the process of long-term memory storage. Outside of lab, Andrea enjoys painting and learning new languages.

Sloane Satow,

Research Assistant

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Sloane was born and raised in NYC & has lived there for most of her life. She recently received her bachelor's degree from Duke University where she studied Global Health and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies with a concentration in Korean. During her undergraduate career, she worked for Dr. Lee within the Duke Radiation Oncology Department where she studied methods to improve cancer patient survivorship, reduce the effects of radiation therapy, and researched medical countermeasures against acute radiation syndrome. Here, she not only gained extensive mouse handling experience, but also a desire to continue exploring the vast field of research. Sloane joined the Rajasethupathy lab in the summer of 2022 and is eager to continue expanding her knowledge and exposure to neuroscience by working alongside Andrew Luskin and Alessandra Bonito-Oliva. Outside of Rockefeller, she enjoys traveling, sports, cooking, photography, and is always eager to try new things!


James is originally from Washington State and in 2017 earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Before moving to NYC, James worked for Dr. Yumi Kim at Johns Hopkins University where he used the C. elegans germline as a model to understand how kinase cascades drive meiotic chromosome reorganization. Now as a graduate student, James is trying to understand how neuronal signaling cascades alter circuit-level properties to eventually drive cognitive ability. When James is not in lab you can probably find him eating ice cream or bird watching. Sometimes, you can even find him trying to feed ice cream to birds.

Alejandra Urquieta,

Research Assistant



Celine earned her B.A. in Biological Sciences and Visual Arts from Columbia University in 2019. Afterwards, she spent two years researching at the Charité Universitätsmedizin in Berlin before entering her MD-PhD. Having previously focused on oncology research, Celine is a neuroscience transplant. She is interested in how memories are encoded across different timescales from minutes to days to years.

Miriam Kirylo,

Research Assistant


Miriam grew up in NYC and received her B.S. in Neuroscience with a Cellular/Molecular concentration from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. There, she worked and conducted a senior thesis in Dr. Luis Martinez’s neuroendocrinology research laboratory, where she studied the ability of estradiol replacement therapy to reduce hippocampal neurodegeneration and deficits in social recognition, hypothesizing to be modulated by an amyloid beta-degrading metallopeptidase, in a rodent model of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Her research interests include neuropharmacology and signaling pathways behind cognition and memory maintenance. In her free time, you can find her trying out new restaurants in the city or reminiscing about her violin-playing days (not mutually exclusive).


Josue Regalado,

HHMI Gilliam Graduate Fellow

Next: Postdoc, UCSF


Andrew Toader,

M.D./Ph.D. student

NRSA Fellow

Next: Research Track Psychiatry Residency, UCSF


Nakul Yadav,

Ph.D. student

Raichle Graduation Award

SFN scientific excellence award

Next: Postdoc, Stanford University


Millennium Gebremedhin,

Visiting student

Next: M.D. student, Saarland University

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Seif Selim Aldalil 

SURF student

Next: Ph.D. student,  Brandeis University


Vivian Li

Research Assistant

Next: Ph.D. student, Rockefeller University

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Chelsea Noble

Research Assistant

Next: PhD student, Harvard University

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Katie Hsiao, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Next: Allen Institute for Brain Science 


Ariadna Corredera Asensio

Visiting student

Next: Research Assistant at NYU


Suraj Kumar

Visiting student

Next: Postdoctoral Scholar, NCBS, India


Tara Conniff

Lab manager

Next: Project manager, Columbia University 

Briana Mcrae

SURF student

Next: Ph.D. student, Columbia University


Florian Hollunder

Visiting student

Next: Ph.D. student, Rockefeller University

James Niemeyer, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow

Next: Neurology Instructor, Weill Cornell


The lab over the years

2023 - Alumni reunion







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