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neuroscience

women in science

Short

bio

Constantina Theofanopoulou is the Herbert and Neil Singer Research Assistant Professor at Rockefeller University, Visiting Scholar at New York University, and Research Associate at Emory University and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. She is the Director of the Neurobiology of Social Communication team. Her research aim is to understand the neural circuits of complex sensory-motor behaviors that serve social communication, specifically, speech and dance, and to identify possible therapies for speech and motor disorders.

 

For her Ph.D. (Universal Ph.D. title: University of Barcelona, Duke University, and Rockefeller University), she worked on the social reward mechanisms of vocal learning, studying the role of oxytocin in vocal learning in songbirds and in human evolution of sociality, in general. These projects led her to realize that the evolution of the oxytocin/vasotocin gene family was largely misunderstood, an issue that percolated down to an inconsistent gene nomenclature. Using computational genomic tools, she shed light on the evolutionary history of these genes and proposed a universal gene nomenclature. This work laid the foundations for her current clinical project on testing the therapeutic role of oxytocin in speech deficits.

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Supporting

Underrepresented Minorities

in Science

Constantina is a strong advocate for supporting women and underrepresented minorities in Science.

She is currently serving as a board member of the International Brain Research Organization’s Early Career Committee, where, among other actions, she coordinates professional development and mentorship activities, as well as grant opportunities, geared toward underrepresented scientists. As a STEM mentor in the New York Academy of Sciences, she has taught Life Sciences in underserved communities throughout NYC. In 2021, she was voted networking coordinator at the Council of the Rockefeller Inclusive Science Initiative. She has also been selected as a Women on Top for voluntarily mentoring women from her home country, Greece. She has mentored young female and underrepresented scientists in several programs, such as the Summer Science Research Program at Rockefeller University. During her Ph.D., she received a grant from AGAUR (Agency for the Management of University and Research Grants) to promote institutional equality and success for women scientists. During her undergraduate studies, she joined the initiative Pathways of Life, where she gave support classes to young immigrants from adverse backgrounds (war, extreme poverty, family abuse).

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