Leon Levy Fellowship in Neuroscience | NYU Langone Health

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Neuroscience Institute Postdoctoral Program Leon Levy Fellowship in Neuroscience

Leon Levy Fellowship in Neuroscience

Supported by the Leon Levy Foundation, the Leon Levy Fellowship in Neuroscience recognizes outstanding early-career neuroscientists at NYU Langone whose high-risk, high-impact research may not be supported by traditional grants. Led by principal investigator Richard Tsien, DPhil, director of the Neuroscience Institute, the fellowship program funds NYU Langone neuroscientists working in a broad range of disciplines.

These awards fill an important gap in funding during a critical time, supporting a vital pipeline of junior investigators as they launch independent careers. As a fellow, you are given career development opportunities and advanced mentoring. You also learn how to mentor and manage the next generation of neuroscientists, extending your influence in the field for years to come.

How to Apply

Applications are now closed and will open in 2021. For more information about the application, email leonlevyfellows@nyulangone.org.

Current Fellows

Our fellows lead exciting and important research projects that advance the field of neuroscience.

Melissa Cooper, PhD

Dr. Cooper earned her bachelor of science with honors from Florida State University, double majoring in biology and psychology while competing as a Division 1 athlete in swimming. Dr. Cooper qualified for Olympic trials, medaled at Atlantic Coast Conferences, and was a member of the All-ACC Swimming Team and the All-ACC Academic Team. Concurrently, Dr. Cooper worked in the neuroscience laboratory of Debra Fadool, PhD, where she studied the impact of obesity on neuronal structure and function. In her PhD work with David Calkins, PhD, at Vanderbilt University, Dr. Cooper uncovered the remarkable plasticity of astrocyte networks and their protective functions in early neurodegenerative disease. For her postdoctoral work with Moses V. Chao, PhD, at NYU Langone, Dr. Cooper is determining how protective neurotrophic astrocyte networks are activated. As a Leon Levy Fellow, she is using techniques that range from systems to molecular neuroscience to expand our knowledge on the neurotrophic capacity of astrocyte networks as well as on novel signaling molecules shared through astrocyte gap junctions.

Alessandro La Chioma, PhD

Dr. La Chioma is a postdoctoral fellow with David Schneider, PhD, at the NYU’s Center for Neural Science. His current work explores the sensory-motor circuits important for predicting the acoustic consequences of our actions and how these predictions change as a function of context. To this goal, he combines electrical and optical recordings as mice engage in multisensory virtual reality systems. Previously, Dr. La Chioma received his bachelor of science and master of science in neurobiology from Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy, after a research internship in the lab of Daniel Choquet, PhD, in Bordeaux, France. Then he moved to Germany to obtain a PhD in neurobiology working with Mark Hübener, PhD, and Tobias Bonhoeffer, PhD, at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried. There he studied visual processing in mice using two-photon calcium imaging and discovered that signals from both eyes are integrated to form visual depth representations of the world that are distinct across areas of the visual cortex. Before moving to New York, he did a sabbatical postdoc in the computational group of Kenji Doya, PhD, at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Okinawa, Japan.

Justin Lieber, PhD

Dr. Lieber is a postdoctoral associate with J. Anthony Movshon, PhD, at NYU. Prior to coming to New York, Dr. Lieber received his PhD in computational neuroscience from the University of Chicago, working with Sliman Bensmaia, PhD. In his graduate work, Dr. Lieber studied the neural basis of tactile texture perception, using single-unit recordings in monkey somatosensory cortex to show how disparate peripheral inputs are transformed into a unified neural code. At NYU Langone, Dr. Lieber is using neurophysiological and psychophysical techniques to study how the neural substrates of visual form perception change as they move from primary visual cortex to secondary visual cortex.

Christina May, PhD

Dr. May earned her bachelor of science in neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas, then joined the lab of Howard Becker, PhD, and Tripp Griffin, PhD, at the Medical University of South Carolina studying neural mechanisms of alcohol tolerance in mice. She received her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Michigan, where she worked in the lab of Monica Dus, PhD, to study the consequences of a high-sugar diet on taste acuity and feeding behavior in fruit flies. She earned a Distinguished Dissertation Award for this work. Due to a long-held interest in space-related research, for her postdoctoral work Dr. May decided to enter the field of navigational neuroscience to understand the computations underlying neural representations of external forces such as gravity. She is now a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Katherine Nagel, PhD, at NYU Langone, where she uses calcium imaging and computational and genetic techniques to probe the representation of the wind vector in the brains of flying fruit flies.

Long Mei, PhD

Dr. Mei is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dayu Lin, PhD, at NYU Langone. With a strong interest in how humans socially interact with each other, Dr. Mei would like to understand the neural mechanisms of social behaviors, mainly focusing on aggression and sexual behaviors. In his ongoing project, Dr. Mei aims to understand the neural mechanisms underlying negative infant-directed behaviors. Prior to coming to New York, Dr. Mei received his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Peking University and the National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing. In his graduate work, Dr. Mei studies how mammalian circadian rhythm affects how our brain responds to jet lag. He developed a long-term in vivo recording setup to monitor the circadian gene expression in mice and found a small molecular compound that can quickly adjust jet lag.

Rodrigo Triana-Del Rio, PhD

Dr. Triana-Del Rio obtained a bachelor's degree in biology and a master’s degree in neuroethology at the University of Veracruz in Mexico. He then moved to Switzerland to complete a PhD in neuroscience with Ron Stoop, PhD, at the University of Lausanne. There, Dr. Triana-Del Rio was funded by grants from the Mexican and Swiss governments to study the neuromodulation of emotional responses by the oxytocin signaling within circuits of the central amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. He found in ex vivo and in vivo studies that oxytocin enables the recruitment of interneuron populations during the suppression of freezing behavior, and this mechanism strengthens the glutamatergic synapses in cells expressing the oxytocin receptor, only when animals learn to suppress freezing and engage in proactive threat-coping or active avoidance behavior. After completing his PhD, Dr. Triana-Del Rio pursued postdoctoral training in the labs of Joseph E. LeDoux, PhD, at NYU, and Christopher K. Cain, PhD, at the Nathan S. Klein Institute for Psychiatric Research, working under a National Institute on Drug Abuse grant.

Currently, Dr. Triana-Del Rio is studying the circuits underlying proactive threat-coping by the recruitment of reinforcing projections from the basal amygdala to the nucleus accumbens, as well as the neuromodulation exerted by the endocannabinoid signaling in the nucleus accumbens to boost instrumental responses that decrease freezing behavior. This research brings new information about possible molecular targets to treat fear and anxiety disorders.

Arianna Zuanazzi, PhD

Dr. Zuanazzi received her BA and MA in linguistics at the University of Pavia and the School for Advanced Studies (Italy), where she studied syntax processing in second-language learners. She then received a MSc in cognitive neuroscience at the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences (Italy), where she investigated the involvement of the parietal cortex in syntax processing and allocation of visuospatial attention, using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and tDCS. Dr. Zuanazzi received her PhD in computational neuroscience at the University of Birmingham (UK), where she used psychophysics, fMRI, and TMS to study the interplay of spatial attention and expectation and their influence on multisensory processes.

Currently, Dr. Zuanazzi is a postdoc with David Poeppel, PhD, at NYU. Her research lies at the interface between theoretical linguistics, cognitive neuroscience, and neurobiology. She is investigating how the brain processes incoming speech signals and generates representations at different levels of complexity, such as words, phrases, and sentences. Her research capitalizes on the use of multiple neuroimaging methods including fMRI, MEG, and non-invasive brain stimulation (TMS/tDCS).

Yunlu Zhu, PhD

Dr. Zhu is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of David Schoppik, PhD, at NYU Langone. Dr. Zhu earned his BS at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) with specialization in cell biology. He then pursued his PhD at the University of Virginia under the mentorship of Sarah Kucenas, PhD, where he studied glial development in neurogenesis and discovered novel roles for neural crest cells in phagocytosis. In the Schoppik lab, Dr. Zhu has developed a new zebrafish model for neurodegenerative diseases. As a Leon Levy Neuroscience Fellow, Dr. Zhu aims to understand how molecular and cellular dysfunction disrupts balance control in neurodegenerative diseases.

Leon Levy Fellowship Alumni

Jayeeta Basu, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, 2015–17

Tanvi Butola, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, Basu Lab, 2019–21

Silvia Fossati, PhD, Assistant Professor, Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry, 2015–17

Biyu J. He, PhD, Assistant Professor, Departments of Neurology, Neuroscience and Physiology, and Radiology, 2015–17

Ramanjit Kaur, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Microbiology, Landau Lab, 2019–21

Julieta Lischinsky, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, Lin Lab, 2019–21

Rebecca Martin, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, Hartley Lab, 2018–20

Arjun V. Masurkar, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Departments of Neurology and Neuroscience and Physiology, 2016–17

Nicolas Tritsch, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, 2015–17

Argelinda Baroni, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2013–15

Anne Marie C. Kelly, PhD, Assistant Professor, Departments of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Neurology, 2012–14

Anli A. Liu, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, 2013–15

Neset Ozel, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biology, Deplan Lab, 2019–21

Muge Ozker Sertel, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neurology, Flinker Lab, 2018–20

Lucas L. Sjulson, MD, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, 2013–15

Nicholas Stavropoulos, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, 2013–15

Marie Suver, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, Nagel Lab, 2018–20

Silvana Valtcheva, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Departments of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery and Neuroscience and Physiology, Froemke Lab, 2018–20

Yihong Zhao, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2014–16

Ipshita Zutshi, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, Buzsáki Lab, 2019–21

Awards and News

Leon Levy alumni Dr. Martin and Dr. Sertel were awarded F32s from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Leon Levy alum Dr. Suver was awarded an NIH K99/R00 through the Brain Initiative.

Leon Levy alum Dr. Valtcheva was awarded a NARSAD Young Investigator grant.

Leon Levy alumni Dr. Basu and Dr. Tritsch won fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Leon Levy alum Dr. Basu spoke about neuroscience at the 2017 TEDxNYU conference.

Leon Levy alum Dr. Sjulson was awarded an NIH K08.