My overarching research focus is investigating the photic regulation of neuropsychological disorders. Presently, I am investigating the role of the locus coeruleus in light deprivation-induced depressive-like behavior. To do this I am combining behavioral tasks, traditional anatomical tracing techniques and chemogenetic approaches.
Jennifer Catuzzi Fragale, PhD
Jennifer earned a B.S. in Molecular Biology at Montclair State University and a PhD in Neuroscience at Rutgers University where she studied the role of cognitive flexibility and motivation in the development of anxiety disorders under the guidance of Dr. Kevin Beck and Dr. Kevin Pang. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers University Brain Health Institute working in the lab of Dr. Gary Aston-Jones. Her research focuses on the role of orexin in opioid addition.
Nupur is the manager of Dr. Gary Aston-Jones lab. She received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from Rutgers University, Newark. After graduation, she worked in the labs of Dr. James Tepper and Dr. Elizabeth Abercrombie at the Center for Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers, Newark, where she studied basal ganglia circuits to better understand the circuits and firing patterns involved in Parkinson's and Huntington's disease.
Morgan James, PhD
My research is focused on understanding the brain pathways involved in disorders of brain reward, motivation and memory. I completed my Ph.D. under Chris Dayas at the University of Newcastle, Australia, where I studied the role of hypothalamic peptides in relapse to cocaine seeking and. Currently, I am using a variety of techniques, including in vivo electrophysiology and DREADDs to explore the role of medial prefrontal cortex in cocaine seeking behavior.
I am a graduate student with Dr. Gary Aston-Jones and Dr. Jon Cohen at Princeton, where I combine behavioral testing with selective manipulations and in-vivo electrophysiology to study the neural mechanisms of foraging and exploit-explore decisions. I am particularly interested in the role of the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine system. Prior to graduate school, I received my undergraduate degree in Psychology and Kinesiology at the University of Texas, where I studied adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus under Dr. Michael Drew.
Dr. Amy Kohtz earned her B.A. in Psychology and her Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from the State University of New York at Albany where she studied sex differences in reward behaviors under the guidance of Dr. Cheryl Frye. She completed her Ph.D. in molecular
mechanisms of learning and memory under the guidance of Dr. Cristina Alberini at New York University. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Rutgers University Brain Health Institute working in the lab of Dr. Gary Aston-Jones. Her research interests include sex differences in drug-seeking, the role of hippocampus monoamines in drug addiction, and the effects of oxytocin on early abstinence. In her spare time she enjoys playing with her dog, video games, and cooking.
Gina Marrone, PhD
Dr. Gina Marrone earned her B.A. in Psychology from Barnard College, Columbia University and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Weill Cornell where she studied mu opioid receptor splice variants in Dr. Gavril Pasternak's laboratory at Sloan Kettering. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Rutgers University Brain Health Institute working in the lab of Dr. Gary Aston-Jones. She is currently studying the role of orexin in the nucleus accumbens shell in motivation to self-administer cocaine and opioids.
I am a visiting scholar at Rutgers University Brain Health Institute working in the lab of Dr. Gary Aston-Jones. I received my B.A in psychology from Alzahra University. I am currently a neuroscience PhD student at the School of Cognitive Sciences, Institute
for Research in Fundamental Sciences (IPM), Tehran. My PhD thesis is focused on role of orexin and dynorphin in morphine dependency. Presently I am studying the role of orexin in ventral pallidum and nucleus accumbens shell in motivation to self-administer opioids.
Dr. Omrani graduated from Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) as a Medical Doctor (MD) in 2006. He received his PhD in 2015 from Queen’s University. His PhD thesis was focused on motor control and how somatosensory feedback could be incorporated in controlling movement. He joined Dr. Aston-Jones's lab in September 2015, studying the role of norepinephrine in selective sensory processing. His long-term goal is to follow an academic career studying the physiology of sensory-motor systems and to extend this knowledge to the clinic by rational manipulation of neural circuitry, to understand how circuit dysfunction would give rise to different neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Caroline received her B.A. in Neuroscience from Hamilton College. After college, she worked as a post baccalaureate IRTA fellow at the NIEHS in the laboratory of Dr. Serena Dudek, studying the behavioral function of hippocampal area CA2. Her current research in the Aston-Jones lab is in orexin circuits mediating cocaine demand in the laboratory's behavioral economics paradigm.
Joost Wiskerke, PhD
My overarching research interests are reward processing and cognitive control. I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Neuroscience at the VU University Amsterdam (the Netherlands). During my PhD, I studied how endogenous cannabinoid and opioid systems in the brain modulate impulsive behaviors and drug addiction, under supervision of Drs. Ton Schoffelmeer, Taco de Vries and Tommy Pattij. After my PhD, I spent two years at Princeton University as a post-doc (lab of Dr. Ilana Witten), where I optimized methods to apply optogenetics to study higher cognitive functions in rats. In the Aston-Jones lab, I combine behavioral pharmacology, chemogenetic (DREADDs) and in vivo electrophysiology to investigate how neurons in two brain regions, the locus coeruleus and the subthalamic nucleus, regulate behavioral control.