Lab Members


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J. Nicholas Betley, Principal Investigator

Nick’s spark for research was ignited as an undergraduate, where he explored the molecular determinants of cellular asymmetry in Jim Deshler’s laboratory. From this work, Nick became interested in how molecular codes influence the assembly of the nervous system and attended Columbia University where he worked with Thomas Jessell to investigate the developmental programs that determine synaptic partners during circuit formation. To better understand how neural circuits influence behavior he moved to Janelia Farm and worked with Scott Sternson to examine the structure and function of neural circuits that influence feeding behaviors. He moved to the University of Pennsylvania in the Fall of 2015 and is interested in exploring how the brain guides behavior in a dynamic world.


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Elen Hernandez, Research Assistant

Elen received her bachelor’s from Delaware Valley University in Small Animal Science and currently is a research assistant at University of Pennsylvania. Elen’s research investigates cell types that influence feeding behavior, as well as, the neural influence on metabolomics.

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Amber Alhadeff, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Amber received her B.A. in Biology, M.A. in Psychology, and Ph.D. in Psychology/Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania. In her doctoral work, Amber studied the hindbrain neuroendocrine control of food intake in the laboratories of both Dr. Harvey Grill and Dr. Matthew Hayes. Amber’s postdoctoral research in the Betley lab is focused on the mechanisms through with AGRP neuron populations signal hunger and valence.

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Zhenwei Su, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Zhenwei obtained his PhD in University of Wisconsin-Madison, working with Dr. Ching Kung on electrophysiological characterization of mechanosensitive ion channels. He did his postdoc work with Dr. Roderick MacKinnon at The Rockefeller University, on pharmacology of potassium channels. He is now working with Dr. Nick Betley and is investigating the physiology of brain circuits that control mouse feeding behaviors.

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