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Robin Chemers Neustein Professor
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Vosshall Lab Members

Leslie Vosshall 2019
Leslie B. Vosshall PhD
Robin Chemers Neustein Professor and HHMI Investigator
Phone: 212-327-7236
E-mail: leslie@rockefeller.edu
Curriculum vitae
NIH biosketch
Leslie B Vosshall is the Robin Chemers Neustein Professor, Head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, and Director of the Kavli Neural Systems Institute at The Rockefeller University. She is a molecular neurobiologist known for her work on the genetic basis of chemosensory behavior in both insects and humans. Her notable contributions to science include the discovery of the insect odorant receptors, and the elucidation of general principles regarding their function, expression, and the connectivity of the sensory neurons that express them to primary processing centers in the brain. She founded the Rockefeller University Smell Study in 2004 with the goal of understanding the mechanisms by which odor stimuli are converted to olfactory percepts. Vosshall received an A.B. in Biochemistry from Columbia University in 1987 and a Ph.D. from Rockefeller University in 1993. Following postdoctoral work at Columbia University, she joined the Rockefeller faculty in 2000. She is the recipient of the 2008 Lawrence C. Katz Prize from Duke University, the 2010 DART/NYU Biotechnology Award, the 2011 Gill Young Investigator Award, and the 2020 National Academy of Sciences Pradel Research Award. Vosshall is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Photo: HHMI (2019)
Nipun Basrur
Nipun Basrur
PhD Student
E-mail: nbasrur@rockefeller.edu
Nipun is a 2015 graduate of Grinnell College, where he received a BA in Chemistry, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was a summer undergraduate research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in 2014, where he worked with Jim Maher on a project that investigated protein-mediated DNA loops. At Grinnell, Nipun worked in Mark Levandoski’s lab, where he studied allosteric modulation of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. He rotated in the lab in Fall-Winter 2015, working with Ellen DeObaldia on microbiome-driven mosquito attraction, and with Laura Duvall on neuropeptide biology in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Nipun joined the Vosshall Lab in Fall 2016, and is studying the genetic and anatomical basis of sexually dimorphic behaviors in the mosquito. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Laura Dedmon
Laura Dedmon
Temporary Assistant
E-mail: ldedmon@rockefeller.edu
Laura received her BA in English at the University of Denver and is a post-bac pre-med student at Hunter College. She worked previously at Cornell University as a research aide at the Cornell Research Program on Self-injury and Recovery. Since 2017, Laura has been working with Ellen De Obaldia on a project that seeks to understand why some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Maria Elena (Ellen) De Obaldia
Maria Elena (Ellen) De Obaldia PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
E-mail: mdeobaldia@rockefeller.edu
Ellen earned an A.B. with high honors in Biology from Harvard College in 2008. As an undergraduate, she studied in vivo vasculogenesis from human cord-blood derived progenitor cells in Joyce Bischoff’s laboratory at Children’s Hospital Boston. She went on to complete PhD training in Immunology, mentored by Avinash Bhandoola at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, graduating in 2014. Ellen was awarded the Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetic Research and the Saul Winegrad, MD Outstanding Dissertation Award for her thesis work on mechanisms of T cell lineage commitment. Ellen joined the Vosshall Lab in 2014, with a broad interest in studying the interactions between anthropophilic disease vector mosquitoes and their mammalian hosts, from which they must obtain a blood meal in order to reproduce. Specifically, Ellen is investigating why Aedes aegypti mosquitoes prefer skin odor from some humans over that of others. Further, she wants to understand the mechanistic basis for the preference of Aedes aegypti for biting humans over other non-human mammals, using novel in vivo and ex vivo animal models. Ellen envisions that the answers to these fundamental questions will suggest novel ways to deter mosquito biting behavior and disease spread. Ellen is the recipient of a 2014 Harvey L. Karp Discovery Award, is a 2016 Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Fellow, and is a recipient of a 2017 pilot award from the Rockefeller University Center for Clinical and Translational Science (RUCCTS), supported by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NIH/NCATS). Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Photo of M Dougherty
M Dougherty
SMELL-RS study consultant
E-mail: mjdoughe@gmail.com
M (Melisa) Dougherty is a nonbinary artist and designer, concerned with research and intention. Influenced by ancient techniques and practices, where humans first faced the conception of machine, M moves fluidly between artistic mediums in an attempt to better study the juxtaposition of technology and humanity. Playing with memory and perception, their work often combines soft science and artistic expression. These explorations manifest primarily through environmental design, scent art, installation, performance, and visual / video work. In the Vosshall Lab they are serving as a consultant on the SMELL-RS project led by Andreas Keller. Photo: credit.
Laura Duvall, Columbia University
Laura B. Duvall PhD
Assistant Professor, Duvall Lab, Columbia University
E-mail: lbd2126@columbia.edu
Laura received her B.A. in Biochemistry and Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007. She then went on to complete a PhD with Paul Taghert at Washington University in St. Louis studying the neuropeptide regulation of circadian behavior in Drosophila. She conducted postdoctoral research with Leslie Vosshall at the Rockefeller University where she switched her studies to the Aedes aegypti mosquito and focused her research efforts on understanding the regulation of feeding and mating behaviors in the mosquito. Photo: Trevor Sorrells

She started her own lab at Columbia University in 2019 where she is a member of the Department of Biological Sciences and an affiliate of the Zuckerman Institute.

The web page of the Duvall Lab can be found here.
Tom Gabel, Columbia University
Tom Gabel
Staff Associate, Duvall Lab, Columbia University
E-mail: ento.tom@gmail.com
Tom has worked with a variety of invertebrate communities, in both field and laboratory settings. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he studied the impacts of climate change on the diversity and developmental stability of grasshopper assemblages in the Colorado Front Range. At California State University, East Bay, he investigated threats to native ant biodiversity in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the invasive Argentine ant, Linepithema humile. He then spent 3 years with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife on long-term monitoring projects studying the zooplankton and endangered planktivorous fish communities of the San Francisco Bay Estuary, including the endemic Delta Smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus. He joined the Duvall lab in the fall of 2019 as a Staff Associate, rearing and maintaining research colonies of Aedes aegypti for research into the neural mechanisms of blood-feeding behavior. Photo: Columbia University.
Barbara Ghelardi
Barbara Ghelardi
Administrative Assistant II
E-mail: ghelarb@rockefeller.edu
Barbara previously was the administrator for laboratory of Markus Stoffel and joined our group in 2006. In the Vosshall Lab, Barbara expertly handles all aspects of laboratory administration. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Olivia Goldman
Olivia Goldman
PhD Student
E-mail: ogoldman@rockefeller.edu
Olivia earned her BA in neuroscience in 2010 from Barnard College of Columbia University. As an undergraduate, she worked with John Glendinning on fetal ethanol exposure-induced changes in the peripheral taste system of rats. From 2014-2016, supervised by Eleanor Simpson and Eric Kandel, she worked as a research assistant using behavioral pharmacology and microdialysis to investigate 5-HT2c modulation on tonic dopamine release during motivated behavior. Subsequently, she worked for a year as a science journalist. In 2017, She rotated in the Vosshall laboratory in 2017, working with Laura Duvall on behavioral assays studying inter-species mosquito mating and host-seeking. She joined the lab in 2018 and now investigates contact chemosensation in mosquitoes and the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the efficacy of insect repellents, including DEET. She was a fellow of the Women & Science Initiative in 2017, and the recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2019. Photo: Trevor Sorrells.
Zhongyan Gong
Zhongyan Gong
Research Assistant
E-mail: zgong@rockefeller.edu
Zhongyan is a 2018 graduate of the University of Michigan, where she was a neuroscience major. She transferred from the China Agricultural University, where she was an undergraduate in the Honors Program in Biological Sciences, College of Biological Sciences, with a double major in Law. At Michigan, she carried out a thesis entitled “Examining the role of a cortico-thalamic circuit in cue-motivated behaviors using chemogenetics” in the laboratory of Shelly Flagel. Prior to this, she worked in Xiangdong Li’s group at the China Agricultural University on adipose metabolism. In 2014, she was recipient of the Excellent Student Scholarship, Dahuanong Scholarship, 1st Place in Plant Field Study Projects, and 2nd Place in Animal Field Study Projects from the College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University. She joined the Vosshall Lab in July 2018, and is working with the Aedes Toolkit Group, mentored by Margo Herre and Veronica Jove. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Gloria Gordon
Gloria Gordon
Laboratory Assistant II
E-mail: ggordon@rockefeller.edu
Gloria joined the lab in June 2012 as a laboratory technician primarily responsible for managing all aspects of our insectary. Gloria was promoted to HHMI Laboratory Assistant II in 2013, and is the manager of our insectary. Gloria is a long-time member of the Rockefeller community and previously managed the HHMI glasswashing facility, as well as working in numerous laboratories on campus. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Margaret (Margo) Herre
Margaret (Margo) Herre
PhD Student
E-mail: mherre@rockefeller.edu
Margo earned her BFA in Photography and Imaging with honors and a Minor in Chemistry from New York University in 2011. While still in college, she was a research technician at Eastern Virginia Medical School and at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Before entering the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD program in 2014, Margo was a veterinary assistant at the Tribeca Soho Animal Hospital and a health center intern at the Staten Island Zoo. She was a research assistant in Bob Darnell’s lab from 2011-2014, where we worked on the biochemistry of Fragile X Mental Retardation Syndrome. Margo joined the Vosshall Lab in 2016 after a short rotation with Ben Matthews. She is studying mechanisms by which female mosquito behavior is reversibly modulated by blood-feeding. She participated in the 2016 CSHL Advanced Sequencing Technologies and Applications Course, and is a 2016 recipient of a Quadrivium Award for Innovative Research in Epigenetics. Margo was named a Kavli Neural Systems Institute Graduate Fellow in 2019. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Leah Houri-Ze'evi
Leah Houri-Ze’evi PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
E-mail: lhouri@rockefeller.edu
Leah started her first steps in academia in the Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary program for excellent students at Tel Aviv University, where she studied a variety of disciplines ranging from Philosophy, History and Law, towards Psychology, Neuroscience, and biology. In 2013, she joined the Oded Rechavi lab for her MSc. studies in the department of Neurobiology at Tel Aviv University. In her Master's research, Leah studies the effects of early life starvation on transgenerational inheritance of small RNAs in C. elegans nematodes. She earned her MSc degree, summa cum laude, in 2014 and continued directly to obtain a PhD from Tel Aviv University in the Sagol School of Neuroscience graduate program. In her PhD research, Leah dove into the basic mechanism of transgenerational inheritance of small RNAs, seeking for the basic rules that govern the inheritance across generations, and was the recipient of the Clore PhD fellowship. Leah joined the Vosshall lab in July 2019, where she studies the transcriptional and epigenetic basis of long-term behavioral changes following mating in mosquitoes. She is a 2019 recipient of Rockefeller's Women & Science postdoctoral fellowship, and the Israeli National Postdoctoral award for advancing women in science. She was selected in 2020 to be a Junior Fellow of the Simons Society of Fellows, The Simons Foundation. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Veronica Jove
Veronica Jove
PhD Student
E-mail: vjove@rockefeller.edu
Veronica received her B.A. degree from Columbia University in 2014 in Biological Science and Hispanic Studies. At Columbia, she was named an Amgen Scholar and worked in the laboratory of James Manley on MecP2 gene expression and splicing as affected by ALS mutations. She rotated in the Vosshall lab in the Winter-Spring of 2014, working with Ellen De Obaldia on devising behavioral assays that probe the effects of the microbiome on attraction of mosquitoes to hosts, and with Meg Younger on glutamate receptor expression in the mosquito brain. She joined the lab in September 2015 after participating in the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory Neurobiology Course. Her project uses behavior, genomics, and calcium imaging to map the circuitry that detects blood and initiates blood-feeding behavior. Veronica is a recipient of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and is a Gilliam Fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Photo of Andreas Keller
Andreas Keller PhD
Guest Investigator and Lead Scientist, SMELL-RS
E-mail: andreasbkeller@gmail.com
Andreas received his PhD degree in Genetics from the Julius-Maximilian-University in Wuerzburg, Germany, where he worked with Dr. Martin Heisenberg. He also holds a PhD degree in Philosophy from the City University of New York (2015) where he worked with Dr. Jesse Prinz. He is the 2019 recipient of the Barry Jacobs Memorial Award for Research in the Psychophysics of Human Taste and Smell and the author of The Philosophy of Olfactory Perception as well as numerous journal articles. Andreas currently works towards developing and commercializing a diagnostic test of olfactory function.. (Photo: Ronniedavidphotography.com, 2011)
Priyanka Lakhiani
Priyanka Lakhiani
Rotation PhD Student
E-mail: plakhiani@rockefeller.edu
Priyanka earned her B.Sc. degree in Biology with a minor in mathematics from New York University Abu Dhabi in 2019. As an undergraduate, she worked with Kirsten Sadler Edepli on stress-dependent transcriptomic signatures in zebrafish livers, and with Claude Desplan on the regulation of neuronal identity in Drosophila. She is currently rotating in the lab, working with Olivia Goldman on characterizing chemosensory neurons in the sensory appendages of Aedes aegypti.
Nia Lyn Research Assistant
Nia Lyn
Research Assistant
E-mail: nlyn@rockefeller.edu
Nia earned a BS in Biology from Brandeis University in 2019 before joining the Vosshall lab. At Brandeis, she was an undergraduate research assistant in the Van Hooser lab and a recipient of the Posse Foundation leadership scholarship. While in college, she was also a summer intern in the Hurd Lab at the Icahn School of Medicine. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Libby Mejia
Libby Mejia
Laboratory Assistant I
E-mail: lmejia@rockefeller.edu
Libby joined our group in 2012 as a half-time laboratory helper. She provides expert help with a wide variety of lab support functions for the Vosshall Laboratory. She has worked with a number of laboratories at The Rockefeller University over the past decade, including Dr. Tarun Kapoor’s group. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Takeshi Morita
Takeshi Morita PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
E-mail: tmorita@rockefeller.edu
Takeshi received his BS in Physiology and Neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego, where he was also a research assistant in the laboratory of Dan Feldman. He earned a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2016. His graduate thesis work was carried out jointly with Diana Bautista and Rachel Brem, studying the molecular mechanisms of itch. In the Vosshall Lab, he is studying molecular mechanisms of thermotaxis in the mosquito. Takeshi is a Harvey L. Karp Discovery Fellow and a recipient of a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Saher Rahiel
Saher Rahiel
Undergraduate volunteer
E-mail: Saher.Rahiel28@myhunter.cuny.edu
Saher is a Hunter College student working with Margo Herre in the 2019-2020 academic year. She is studying chemosensory gene expression in the mosquito. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Adriana Rosas Villegas
Adriana Rosas Villegas
Rotation PhD Student
E-mail: krosas@rockefeller.edu
Adriana received her B.S. degree from Universidad Iberoamericana in Nutrition and Food Science. Following her interest for research she received her M.S. from CINVESTAV in Molecular Biomedicine where she studied the impact of sweeteners on gut microbiota and kidney injury. In 2017 she worked as a Research Assistant at Ken Cadwell’s lab in NYU focusing in host-pathogen interactions and analyzing the expression of TLR4 in a mice model of inflammatory bowel disease. Adriana joined the PhD program at The Rockefeller University in 2019. She is a recipient of the 2019-2020 Women & Science Fellowship. She is currently rotating in the Vosshall lab working with Trevor Sorrells on the mosquito persistent behavior state in response to various stimuli. Photo: The Rockefeller University
Nadav Shai
Nadav Shai PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
E-mail: nshai@rockefeller.edu
Nadav earned his BS in biology with research honors from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 2011. He went on to obtain an MS in biology from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in
2013 working in the laboratory of Anat Ben-Zvi in 2013 were he study the connection between protein folding and aging in C. elegance. In his thesis work, he studied how the onset of reproduction regulates protein folding in the adult animal. Nadav earned a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from the Weizmann institute of science, working in the laboratory of Maya Schuldiner in 2018. At the Schuldiner lab, he developed a fluorescence complementation assay for identifying sub-cellular contact sites between organelles. Using high-throughput tools in yeast he further characterized the structure and function of the Mitochondria-Peroxisomes contact site.  He joined the Vosshall Lab in December 2018 and is studying how visceral tissues regulatemosquito attraction to humans. He is a 2019 recipient of EMBO Long-Term Fellowship. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Trevor Sorrells
Trevor Sorrells PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
E-mail: tsorrells@rockefeller.edu
Trevor earned his BS in biology with research honors at Stanford University in 2009. As an undergraduate, he worked on the behavioral ecology of invasive and native ant species in the laboratory of Deborah Gordon, and ribosome-associated chaperones in the laboratory of Judith Frydman. He went on to obtain a PhD from UCSF in the Tetrad Graduate Program, working in the laboratory of Alexander D. “Sandy” Johnson in 2016. In the Johnson Lab, he studied the evolution of transcriptional networks. He was the recipient of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and a Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellowship. He joined the Vosshall Lab in February 2016, and is studying the genetic and neural basis of motivated behavior in the mosquito. He is a 2019 recipient of a Kavli Neural Systems Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Krithika Venkataraman
Krithika Venkataraman
PhD Student
E-mail: kvenkatara@rockefeller.edu
Krithika Venkataraman earned a B.A. magna cum laude from Smith College in 2015, with highest honors in biochemistry and a minor in neuroscience. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi. At Smith College, Krithika studied gene regulation in filarial parasites in the laboratory of Steven A. Williams. For this work, she was awarded the 2014-2015 McKinley Honors Fellowship and the 2015 Margaret Wemple Brigham Prize from Smith College. Krithika was a summer intern in the laboratory of Dr. Utpal Tatu at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, where she worked on methods to control infections caused by protozoan parasites. She was also a visiting summer student in the laboratory of Kevin C. O’Connor at the Yale School of Medicine, where she investigated the role of muscle-specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK) autoantibodies in myasthenia gravis pathology. Krithika entered the PhD program at The Rockefeller University in 2015, and joined the laboratory of Leslie B. Vosshall. Currently, as a PhD candidate, Krithika studies how female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes regulate their attraction to humans depending on their reproductive physiology. Specifically, she is interested in how mosquito-specific genes and endocrine signaling modulate mosquito attraction. The broader goal of her work is to elucidate novel points of intervention to break the deadly biting cycles of disease vector mosquitoes. She is a recipient of the 2015-2016 Women & Science Fellowship and the 2018-2019 David Rockefeller PhD Fellowship from The Rockefeller University. She was also awarded the 2018 Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds PhD Fellowship. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Photo of Jin Hee Yoo
Jin Hee Yoo
Undergraduate volunteer
E-mail: jinheeyoo222@gmail.com
Jin Hee is a Hunter College undergraduate working with Olivia Goldman in the 2019-2020 academic year. She is studying contact chemoreception in adult mosquitoes. Photo: xx
Meg Younger
Meg Younger PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
E-mail: myounger@rockefeller.edu
Meg earned a BS in neural science with honors in 2004 from New York University. As an undergraduate, she worked with Justin Blau at NYU on circadian rhythms in Drosophila and with David Spray at Albert Einstein College of Medicine on mammalian gap junction channels. She went on to earn a PhD in neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco in 2013, working with Graeme Davis. Her graduate thesis concerned the role of ENaC sodium channels in synaptic homeostasis and plasticity in Drosophila. Meg earned a Genentech Fellowship in 2009 for her graduate work and was awarded the Sherrington, Charles Barbeiri, and Phi Beta Kappa Research prizes for her undergraduate research. She was a Grass Fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in summer 2014. After joining the Vosshall Lab, Meg earned a Leon Levy Neuroscience Fellowship in 2015 and a Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2016. Meg is using neurophysiology and calcium imaging to study neural circuits in the mosquito brain. Meg also developed the mosquito brain atlas mosquitobrains.org, with the support of a Kavli Neural Systems Institute Pilot grant. She is a 2018 Kavli Neural Systems Institute postdoctoral fellow. Photo: Trevor Sorrells
Photo of Sarah Zylka
Sarah Zylka
BRSS Student
E-mail: szzylka@gmail.com
Sarah is a junior at Bard College, Annandale campus and is working in the lab as a BRSS student in the spring semester of 2020. She is working with Krithika Venkataraman on regulation of host-seeking in female mosquitoes. Photo: xx


Vosshall Lab Alumni

Vosshall Alumni
Since 2000, the Vosshall Lab has welcomed more than 100 postdocs, PhD students, medical students, undergraduates, high school students, visiting scientists, and dedicated staff. Learn about them HERE.


Contact Us

Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior
Box No. 63
The Rockefeller University
1230 York Avenue
New York, NY 10065

Ms. Barbara Ghelardi
Lab Administrator

Leslie Vosshall