Our Team

Jayeeta Basu
Prinicipal Investigator

Jayeeta Basu

My research experience and training has allowed me to develop expertise in the fields of synaptic transmission, excitatory and inhibitory circuit interactions, dendritic integration and long-term plasticity, and neuronal ensemble coding in learning and memory formation.

I grew up in Calcutta, India and went to Presidency College, one of the country’s oldest institutions of western education, to earn my bachelor’s degree in Physiology (B.Sc. Hon.’s). A whole year of our BSc curriculum dedicated to neurophysiology and biophysics, drove my fascination for neuroscience, specifically synaptic physiology. My tryst with hands-on neuroscience research began with an undergraduate summer project with Dr. Rohit Mittal at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India exploring the presynaptic interactions of endocytosis protein Dynamin.

In the fall of 2002, I went on to pursue graduate studies in Neuroscience at the International Max Planck Research School, Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany, a hub for research in synaptic transmission and the birthplace of patch clamp electrophysiology. Learning how to patch neurons to look at Ca2+ dependent vesicular release probability during my lab rotation was a technological revelation for me. In 2003, when my primary PhD thesis advisor Dr. Christian Rosenmund moved his lab to the US, I stayed on in Dr. Erwin Neher’s research group at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Germany to finish an MSc. Here I developed a biophysical method to assess the kinetics of neurotransmitter release.

In 2004, I enrolled in the Neuroscience Graduate program at Baylor College of Medicine, and continued my PhD thesis in Dr. Rosenmund’s lab. My PhD research focused on molecular mechanisms of synaptic vesicle release and short-term plasticity in hippocampal cultured neurons, examining structure-function analysis of presynaptic priming factor Munc13.

I realized that moving forward, I wanted to study activity dependent changes in synaptic transmission in neural circuits to better understand the processes of learning and memory.

At the end of 2007, I joined Dr. Steven Siegelbaum’s laboratory at Columbia University in New York for my post-doctoral training. I examined how excitatory and inhibitory circuits interact to shape dendritic integration and plasticity in hippocampal slices, and learning behavior in vivo.

I started my own laboratory in 2015 at the New York University Neuroscience Institute as a tenure-track Assistant Professor, affiliated with the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology and the Department of Psychiatry. We aim to identify synaptic and behavioral correlates of learning-related activity in genetically defined circuits of the mammalian hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. I am excited to be part of the invigorating Neuroscience ecosystem at NYU, and the outstanding training environment we have cultivated here.  

I have established strong collaborations within the NYU community (Devinsky, Chklovskii, Buzsaki, Rinzel and Masurkar groups) and outside (Sternson, Clopath, Fishell, Kentros groups) to work on developing computational models, machine learning algorithms, large scale data analysis, genetic reagents, and translating to human models of neural disease.

I believe I am well-suited for my role as a mentor for students, and trainees from diverse backgrounds. In this respect, I serve as a co-director of the Medical Scientist Training (MD/PhD) Program and the Chair of the Neuroscience Institute Committee for Diversity and Inclusion. I am passionate about science outreach and have participated in the Art of Science artist in residence LIGO projectNYU TEDX talkNeuwrite NYU and hosting school children to our laboratory to introduce them to the fascinating world of science and research.  I strongly believe in cultivating a research environment that promotes a healthy work life balance and diversifies our field in terms of gender equity and minorities representation.

In parallel to my role as a PI, and neuroscientist, I am the mother of two little humans - Ari and Mira. We enjoy exploring modern art, visiting bookstores and parks, and food-ranging in the city. Outside of lab, I like experimental cooking, painting and animals.

 

Graduate Students

Olesia Bilash

Olesia Bilash – 5th year, Vilcek Institute for Graduate Medical Sciences

After completing my BSc at McGill University, I joined the Neuroscience Institute at NYU as a PhD student. With my background being in cell biology and neuroscience, I am curious to understand how neurons behave at an individual level and how they function collectively, in order to form the circuits that control important aspects of our everyday lives. In the Basu lab, I am using slice electrophysiology (somatic and dendritic patch recordings), optogenetics, and pharmacology to elucidate the functional circuit interactions between the lateral entorhinal cortex and hippocampal area CA1. One detail at a time, I hope to contribute to our understanding of the role of hippocampus in learning and memory.

When not in lab, I enjoy being outside, hiking, photography, and spending time with family and friends.

Maya Hopkins

Maya Hopkins – 2nd year, Vilcek Institute for Graduate Medical Sciences

I am a PhD student in the Basu lab and am interested in understanding how hippocampal activity underlies successful memory consolidation and retrieval. My current project uses 2-photon calcium imaging to examine the stability of place cell ensembles over time and whether increasing the spatial demand of a task alters this stability. Going forward in my PhD career I hope to examine place ensembles in both aged and Alzheimer’s disease-like mouse models. This will shed light on how neurodegeneration may be altering memory processing at a population level. 

I received my bachelor’s degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania. During my time there I studied the interaction between inflammation, stress, and alcohol addiction. Post graduation I worked as a research assistant in Paul Greengard’s lab at Rockefeller University examining the metabolic processing of amyloid precursor protein and potential amyloid-reducing chemical compounds. 

Outside of lab I enjoy viewing and doing ballet, thrifting, and stalking pet adoption sites for more cats.

Keelin O'Neil

Keelin O'Neil – 2nd year, Vilcek Institute for Graduate Medical Sciences

I am a new graduate student in the Basu lab and am broadly interested in plasticity mechanisms and ensemble formation. My current project examines the role of integration of cortical input in the hippocampus and its contribution to novel computations. In the future, I hope to connect my work to neuropsychiatric disorders such as PTSD where the recall of traumatic memory can be triggered by inane daily stimuli.

Before coming to NYU I studied cancer cell migration at UW-Madison and graduated with a degree in Molecular Biology and Public Heath. I then moved to San Diego and to work in Takaki Komiyama's lab at UCSD, here I looked at neuron population dynamics during motor learning. 

Outside of lab I can be found eating every kind of food that NYC has to offer.

Rachel Swanson

Rachel Swanson – 6th year, Sackler Graduate Program

I am a PhD candidate in the Basu and Buzsaki labs, and am broadly interested in investigating neuronal network dynamics during sleep states and how they contribute to mnemonic and homeostatic function.

My current project, under Drs. Basu and Buzsaki, combines high-density electrophysiological recordings of the hippocampus and retrosplenial cortex with simultaneous widefield imaging of a dorsal hemisphere of gcamp6f transgenic mice. The goal of the project is to assess the extent to which the spontaneous reinstatement of recent activity is coordinated across spatial scales, and whether this coordination is required for learning.

Prior to joining NYU in the fall of 2015, I first received a Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University with majors in Biochemistry, Philosophy, and Psychology. I then received a Master’s degree from Cornell University in Behavioral Neuroscience, where I studied the temporal coordination of hippocampo-thalamo-cortical interactions across learning.

Outside the lab, I like to make art and music.

Roland Zemla

Roland Zemla – 7th Year, Medical Scientist Training Program

I am interested in understanding how the entorhinal cortex supports encoding and recall of contextually variant spatial maps in hippocampus. To investigate this, I use in vivo 2-photon microscopy to image hippocampal activity across time during a context-dependent navigation task while perturbing entorhinal function with next-generation chemogenetic tools. I hope to gain insight into the neural mechanism of cognitive decline associated with neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s in which dysfunction of the entorhinal cortex is an early hallmark of the disease.

Post-Doctoral Training Fellows

Tanvi Butola

Tanvi Butola

I did my bachelors in the Panjab University in India, one of the premier institutes of higher education in the country. There I majored in Biotechnology and earned my degree with the highest honor for which I was awarded the university gold medal. Then I moved to Germany for my graduate studies. I joined Prof. Tobias Moser’s lab at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen for my PhD. For my doctoral work, I trained in slice patch-clamp and in vivo electrophysiology to study the signal transmission at central auditory synapses. I also learned Freeze-fracture replica Immuno-Labeling (FRIL) for ultrastructural visualization of synaptic membrane proteins. I trained in FRIL under the tutelage of Prof. Ryuichi Shigemoto at the Institute of Science and Technology, Austria. From studying signal transmission at an individual synapse, I wanted to progress on to investigate circuit dynamics in neural networks. Currently, in the Basu lab I am investigating the reciprocal connection between hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. We believe that through this functional cortico-hippocampal feedback loop our memories may instruct how we process sensory information in real-time, and hence make sense of our constantly changing current environment based on our past experience. 

Outside of the lab, I like painting, dancing and hiking.

Melissa Hernandez Frausto

Melissa Hernandez Frausto

My bachelor degree is in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the Autonomous University of Zacatecas (my hometown in Mexico). Then, I moved to Mexico City where I did my masters and PhD at CINVESTAV, one of the most prestigious research centers in Mexico. My PhD project involved evaluating the impairments in early and late phases of synaptic plasticity such as LTP and LTD in acute hippocampal slices  in a schizophrenia model. I also assessed the cognitive disturbances in behavioral tasks such as New Object Recognition and Barnes Maze, and how the activation of dopamine receptors modifies synaptic plasticity and behavioral impairments in this model. In the Basu lab I’m interested in assessing the inhibitory projections from entorhinal cortex (lateral and medial) to hippocampal CA1 and the different roles of subpopulation of these interneuron projections in the plasticity of pyramidal neurons in physiological conditions. I am also very interested in finding out how these projections are up or down regulated in a schizophrenia model.  

In my free time, I enjoy biking around the island and walking around the city. I also like to stay at home reading and watching movies.

Jason Moore

Jason Moore

I am a computer engineer turned neuroscientist. I graduated from UC San Diego with a B.S. in computer science and engineering, then studied neuroscience with Mayank Mehta at UCLA for my Ph.D. There, I developed a new experimental technique to record voltages from dendrites in unrestrained animals for long periods of time (several days), and developed generalized linear model techniques for analyzing rat hippocampal data in virtual reality environments. 

My research interests are focused towards understanding what role dendrites have in neuronal computations. Most neurons maintain large, elaborate dendritic trees many times larger than their cell body, but many computational models of neural circuits do not include dendrites. Do dendritic computations hold the key to more robust, flexible, and capable learning systems? I hope to shine a light on the form and function of these beautiful structures through my research. I am also interested in glial inflammatory responses, neuromorphic engineering, statistics, and artificial intelligence.

For fun, I enjoy watching college sports (football and basketball), playing board games and video games, and spending time in nature. I am also a lifelong musician, having played trumpet for 25 years in concert bands, marching bands, drum and bugle corps, and various music ensembles. I am also very tall (6'9") and do not play basketball.

Vincent Robert

Vincent Robert

I was trained a biochemist during my bachelors studies at the French Ecole Normale Superieure de Cachan and University Paris-Sud where I obtained a teaching diploma. Then, I specialized in neuroscience during my masters at University Pierre & Marie Curie in Paris. During my undergraduate studies, I gained lab experience by working as an intern in the labs of Dr. Dimitri Kullmann at UCL, Dr. Washington Buno at the Cajal Institute, and Dr. Bo Li at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. After that, I did my PhD under the supervision of Dr. Rebecca Piskorowski in the lab she co-leads with Dr. Vivien Chevaleyre at the Institute of Psychiatry and Neuroscience of Paris. My doctoral work focused on deciphering the microcircuit engaged by long-range hypothalamic inputs in hippocampal area CA2 to control its output using ex vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, chemogenetics, pharmacology and histology. I became fascinated by how the complex integration of inputs at hippocampal neurons shapes specific outputs that allow the encoding of spatial representations. Wishing to build on my expertise in probing the activity of neuronal circuits by refining it to the dendritic level and extending it to in vivo conditions, I joined Dr. Jayeeta Basu’s lab. Here I investigate how the dendritic integration of excitatory and inhibitory drives from entorhinal and intra-hippocampal inputs sculpt the output of hippocampal area CA3 to allow pattern completion and separation.  

Outside the lab, I enjoy listening to music and exploring new places.

Lab Manager/ Research Associates

Rodrigo Delatorre

Rodrigo Delatorre

I recently graduated from New York University with a B.S. in Neuroscience and minors in Global Public Health and Chemistry. I'm fascinated by learning and by how neurodegeneration may affect it. I spent summers as an undergrad at the University of Michigan, with Henry Paulson, and Brown University, with Anne Hart, studying the mechanisms of neurodegeneration. I joined the Basu lab as an undergraduate and carried out my thesis work on the long-range glutamatergic projections from the entorhinal cortex to hippocampal area CA3, which are critical areas for memory encoding and recall. As a research associate in the Basu lab, I am able to further my thesis work by probing the behavior and neuronal activity of these populations in vivo. By studying the circuits involved in learning, I hope to better understand the implications neurodegeneration may have on the hippocampal circuit and how it may disturb learning or remembering. 

Lulu Peng

Lulu Peng – Lab Manager
Email: Lulu.Peng@nyulangone.org

I grew up in Houston, Texas and graduated from NYU in 2014 with a Bachelor's degree, majoring in finance at the Stern School of Business. After working for a few years in the financial industry, I decided it wasn't the right path for me. I began to explore careers in the natural sciences, which I was always interested in during high school although I had never worked in a lab. Ultimately, I felt like becoming a medical doctor was the right path that fit my interests and my goals. I began working at NYU Langone with Jayeeta Basu's lab as a student intern and transitioned to a lab manager and Research Associate in the fall of 2018 in order to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for research, as well as to contribute my time towards scientific endeavors. Besides working, I am also a post-baccalaureate student at Fordham University taking premedical courses.

In my free time, I really enjoy working out, cooking, reading, writing and dancing.

Undergraduate Student Interns

Seyed Navid Mousavi

Seyed Navid Mousavi

I am an undergraduate student at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Bioinformatics. I am working with Rachel Swanson in developing micro-processor controlled behavioral setups for training and imaging from mice during a multisensory learning task. I am planning to enter medical school by 2020.