Former Trainees: What they are doing now

Katie Von Holzen

Katie Von Holzen studies how infants, children, and adults begin to learn a second language at first exposure. She works with  Dr. Rochelle Newman as a postdoctoral researcher in the Hearing and Speech Sciences department at the University of Maryland. She previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Université Paris Descartes in France, and earned her PhD in Psychology at the Georg-August-Universität-Göttingen in Germany and her BS in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in the United States.

Adam Fishbien

Adam Fishbien studies how songbirds and parakeets perceive patterns of sounds and how their abilities compare to those of humans. He works with Dr. Robert Dooling as a PhD student in the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program at the University of Maryland. He previously earned a Master's in Professional Writing at the University of Southern California and BA degrees in Philosophy and Linguistics from the University of Maryland.

Grace Capshaw

Grace Capshaw is a graduate student working with Dr. Catherine Carr in the Biological Sciences program at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research investigates structural variation, physiological function, and evolutionary adaptation of the inner ear in lungless salamander species. Her research aims to reveal the extra-tympanic strategies that "earless" animals use to detect airborne sound, and may provide insight into the auditory capabilities of early, atympanic tetrapod ancestors.

Dr. Yossi Yovel

Dr. Yossi Yovel had the opportunity to work in Dr. Moss' Auditory Neuroethology Laboratory and receive support from the CEBH P-30 grant. His research title was "Beam Steering in the Fruit Bat".

Current Position: Senior Lecturer (equivalent of assistant professor), Department of Zoology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Israel

Dr. Yovel now has his own laboratory - The Bioacoustic Lab for Active Sensing and Perception.

The overall aim of the Yovel Lab is to develop computational methods to study natural (complex) behavior. Echolocating bats serve as an ideal model for doing so because, due to their active sensory system, one can follow the information they acquire from the surroundings relatively easily. The lab focuses on the sensory aspects of echolocation as well as on higher cognitive skills such as social behavior, spatial navigation and learning. The work is done both in the lab and in the field.

Dr. Kelly King

CEBH Predoctoral Trainee. Worked with Dr. Gordon-Salant. Her research title was "Characterization of the auditory phenotype in Niemann-Pick Disease, Type C".

Current Position: Clinical Research Audiologist in the Audiology Unit at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, NIH

Dr. King recently wrote: "CCEBH played an integral role in funding a portion of my PhD work, and in advancing my training in the areas of acoustics and the biological processes of hearing. Participating in the program was one of the most rewarding aspects of my graduate education."

Dr. King's primary research interests are in the pathogenesis and manifestations of hereditary hearing and balance disorders, and the correlation of distinctive auditory and vestibular phenotypes with underlying molecular genotypes.

Dr. Jonathan Simon

CEBH Postdoctoral Trainee year 4. Worked with Dr. Carr and Dr. Shamma with research subject: "Modeling of sound localization".

Current Position: Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Department of Biology, University of Maryland College Park
Member of the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS)
Member of the Program in Bioengineering
Affiliate member of the Institute for Systems Research

Dr. Simon's broad research goal is to understand how the auditory cortex processes complex sounds such as speech and other natural sounds. Because of the focus on speech and higher order processing, his research uses human rather than animal subjects. To non-invasively record and analyze real-time neural processing in humans, Dr. Simon's uses magnetoencephalography (MEG), because of its high temporal resolution (milliseconds) and reasonable spatial resolution (millimeters).

Dr. Simon is now a C-CEBH faculty member and director of his own lab, the Computational Sensorimotor Systems Lab.

Dr. Nachum Ulanovsky

Dr. Ulanovsky worked at the Auditory Neuroethology Laboratory (Batlab) with Dr. Cynthia Moss 2004-2007 and benefited from CCEBH resources.

Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel

Dr. Ulanovsky now has his own laboratory The Laboratory of Nachum Ulanovsky where he focuses his research on hippocampal neural activity in freely moving echolocating bats.

The Laboratory of Nachum Ulanovsky studies the neurobiology of learning & memory, and the relation between brain activity and behavior – more specifically, neural activity in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, brain regions crucial for memory in animals and humans. The animal model used in the lab is the echolocating bat, a flying mammal that has extraordinary spatial memory. Researchers at Dr. Ulanovsky's lab pioneered the usage of bats as a model for studies of mammalian hippocampal function: tetrode recording techniques were used, which allow collecting data from dozens of neurons simultaneously.

Some research themes in Dr. Ulanovsky's lab include:

  • Neurobiology of learning and memory: a systems neuroscience approach
  • Hippocampal and entorhinal neural activity in freely-behaving echolocating bats
  • Neurophysiological recordings in freely flying bats, using radio-telemetry
  • From the bat's biological sonar system to spatial cognition
  • The neural basis of behavior
  • Computational neuroscience; analysis of dozens of simultaneously-recorded neurons

Dr Ulanovsky was featured in a Discovery Channel movie. To see the video click here.

Dr. Bernie Lohr

C-CEBH Trainee (NIH CEBH postdoctoral trainee in year 1) at the Laboratory of Comparative Psychoacoustics (Dooling lab). As a post-doctoral trainee his research title was "Perception of complex sounds by birds".

Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Dr. Lohr now has his own laboratory, the Lohr Lab.

Research in the Lohr Lab focuses on the auditory physiology and sensory biology of songbird acoustic communication. Dr. Lohr is interested in understanding the relationship between the production and perception of communication signals in the context of their mechanism, development, function, and evolution. Researchers at the Lohr Lab take an integrative approach that draws on methods from behavioral ecology, comparative psychology, neurophysiology, and evolutionary biology to investigate fundamental questions in animal communication.

How do animals encode information in the signals they produce?

How do they extract information from such signals perceptually?

How do these processes function in "noisy" natural habitats?

And, ultimately, what factors shape the evolution of such processes?

Understanding the interdependencies of signalers, channels, and receivers is essential for knowing how a biological signal functions in its natural context.

Dr. Micheal L. Dent

C-CEBH Trainee (NIH CEBH predoctoral trainee in year 6) at the Laboratory of Comparative Psychoacoustics (Dooling lab). As a trainee her research title was "Free-field binaural unmasking in the budgerigar".

Current Position: Associate Professor, Psychology, University at Buffalo, SUNY, Buffalo, NY 14260

Dr. Dent now has her own laboratory, the Comparative Bioacoustics Laboratory (Dent Lab).

The overall goal of the research in the Dent Lab is to investigate acoustic communication in animals. Researchers take a comparative approach, measuring hearing and vocalizations in a number of different species, including birds and mice. They do psychoacoustic studies of hearing in animals using operant conditioning techniques, and record sonic and ultrasonic vocalizations from their subjects in various contexts.

Dr. Jenny Boughman

C-CEBH Trainee at Dr. Gerald S. Wilkinson's laboratory.

Current Position: Associate Professor, Zoology, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology & Behavior, BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824

Does sexual selection cause speciation? This long-standing but controversial question is receiving a lot of attention currently, partly because of the special role that mate choice can play in determining gene flow. Sexual selection is thought to cause reproductive isolation when male mating signals and female preferences diversify because that can lead to sexual isolation among populations. After many years of relative obscurity this question is now in the limelight, and evidence is beginning to accumulate in its support. Yet for the most part, this evidence is limited to inferring a role for sexual selection when mating traits differ between closely related species that avoid mating with each other. We remain remarkably ignorant of how sexual selection causes reproductive isolation and when it is likely to do so. We lack answers to fundamental questions such as: Is sexual selection a primary driver of speciation, or is it limited to certain taxa or circumstances? How important is it relative to natural selection or drift? If sexual selection is involved, is it arbitrary with respect to environment or is ultimately the product of ecologically-based divergent selection? Which kinds of sexual selection play a role -- sexual selection by sensory drive, good genes, or sexual conflict? What is the genetic basis of traits that confer sexual isolation?

Work at the Boughman Lab tackles these questions directly. We investigate behavioral and ecological causes of divergence in mating traits, the genetic basis of traits involved in sexual isolation, and are using a comparative approach to evaluate the generality of early results from model systems. To address these questions we use a combination of field observations and experiments, laboratory experiments, quantitative and molecular genetics, and comparative methods. We work at the intersection of several fields, incorporating conceptual underpinnings and methodology from evolutionary genetics, evolutionary ecology, behavioral ecology, and sensory biology. This highly integrative and multilevel approach has proven powerful for uncovering the processes guiding the evolution of behavior and the processes of speciation.


Maureen Shader received her Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree from Gallaudet University in 2013. She is currently a PhD student studying speech perception in older adults with cochlear implants. Her research projects investigate the effect of cochlear implant stimulation rate and temporal­envelope modulation rate on sentence recognition in young, middle­age, and older adults..


Nora H Prior is a postdoctoral fellow working with Drs Gregory Ball and Robert Dooling in the Department of Psychology. Her central research interests are focused on identifying the neuroendocrine bases of social bonding. Currently, the majority of research examining the physiological bases of social bonding has focused on parent-offspring bonds and the formation of monogamous pair bonds, predominately in breeding condition mammals. However, human social relationships are altogether more dynamic, mundane and complex than can be interpreted from these models alone. In order to deepen our understanding of social bonding we need model systems that better reflect the variation that exists both within and across social species.


Thus far, her research has examined the role of seasonality in the regulation of pair bonding in the monogamously breeding zebra finch. Both affiliative physical and vocal behaviors function to support long-term pair-bond maintenance. Sex steroids in the brain may regulate these behaviors differently depending on breeding condition. Under the direction of Drs Ball and Dooling, she will continue similar research focused on determining whether there is seasonal plasticity in the regulation of male-female vocal interactions in canaries.


Maggie Matern is a graduate student in the Human Genetics and Genomic Medicine Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and is completing her thesis work in the laboratory of Dr. Ronna Hertzano. The main focus of her research is the characterization of transcription factor signalling cascades that occur during cochlear development using a combination of bioinformatic and molecular techniques, as well as using both mice and zebrafish as animal models. She is performing this research in the hope that it will help to further understand how hair cells normally develop, survive, and function in the inner ear.


Brittany Jaekel studies how users of cochlear implants perceive and understand aspects of language across the lifespan. She works with Dr. Matthew Goupell and Dr. Rochelle Newman as a PhD student in the Hearing and Speech Sciences department at the University of Maryland. She previously earned her MS in Speech, Language, and Hearing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her BA in Psychology and English at Northwestern University.


Kelsey Dutta is a graduate student working with Drs. Shihab Shamma and Jonathan Fritz in the Neural Systems Lab. She previously worked on neuroanatomy and electrical stimulation projects in the auditory midbrain while earning undergraduate degrees at the University of Connecticut. Her work at NSL will focus on signal processing and physiology in auditory and associated cortices.