women in science
Constantina Theofanopoulou is the Herbert and Neil Singer Research Assistant Professor at Rockefeller University and Visiting Scholar at New York University. She is the Director of the Neurobiology of Social Communication laboratory. 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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Constantina is a strong advocate for supporting women and other underrepresented minorities in Science. She is currently a STEM mentor in the New York Academy of Sciences program, teaching Life Sciences to elementary and middle school students 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 mentoring voluntarily women from her home country, Greece. She has mentored young female 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) for a project aiming at supporting underrepresented minorities in science. 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) coming to Greece for a better life.