Johnston Lab







Job Openings


Grad students


Tali Iwanir

I study male sexual and aggressive motivation using my motivation apparatus



Marcela Fernandez-Vargas

I am generally interested in the evolution of complex communication. For my Master’s I studied the singing mouse of Costa Rica. Currently, I am working with the golden hamster, a model species for the study communication. Hamsters use signals to facilitate access to mates and to discriminate among individuals. I am interested in the information encoded among these signals, as well as the physiological mechanisms and the sensory modalities involved. I am analyzing the ultrasonic vocalizations, their function and whether signaling in this species is a compound stimulus involving odors and specific vocalizations. I am also studying social modulation of hormones and its effect on aggressive behavior.


Frank R. Castelli

I am interested in behavioral ecology and animal social behavior. In the past, I have studied a wide variety of organisms including ants, moth & beetle larvae, tailless whip scorpions, cichlid fish, mantled howler monkeys, and the Utah prairie dog. More recently, I studied the genetic basis of monogamy in the prairie vole and aspects of olfactory discrimination in the naked mole-rat. My current work includes investigating olfactory mechanisms in golden hamsters. I am also very involved in community outreach and sometimes work as an educational youth counselor for Cornell's Adult University.


Leora Ramiro

I am interested in understanding neural mechanisms underlying social memory.   Currently, my research is focused on identifying specific neuroanatomical structures associated with individual recognition following aggressive encounters between male hamsters.   I utilize stereotaxic techniques to target and temporarily inactivate specific regions of the brain, and subsequently conduct recognition tests to identify behavioral changes that occur as a result of this inactivation.


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