Robert Liu

robert [dot] liu [at] emory [dot] edu

I am a neuroscientist with a physics background, working at the intersection of the fields of sensory neuroethology and social neuroscience. I transitioned into neuroscience as a postdoc, working with systems neuroscientists at the University of California, San Francisco’s Sloan-Swartz Center for Theoretical Neurobiology. After initially studying the visual system, I began a program to explore how neurons in the auditory system encode behaviorally relevant sounds, using a mouse model of acoustic communication. This work has now expanded into a general interest in neural plasticity and processing in social communication contexts. Through collaborations at Emory, our research now explores how social information processing and reward are regulated in both a mouse model of maternal recognition of pup calls and a vole model of socially monogamous bonding, using a mix of physiological, behavioral and computational methods.


Amélie Borie

aborie [at] emory [dot] edu

I’m interested in understanding how social experiences shape the social brain neural network and how this influences the expression of social behavior.  Currently, I am using the prairie vole model to study how a pair bonding experience modulates the action of the neuropeptide oxytocin on a neural network identified as key for the regulation of social behavior.

Hong Zhu

hong [dot] zhu [at] emory [dot] edu

My research interest is to understand neurocircuitry mechanism of pair bonding. I’m going to investigate whether chemogenetic/optogenetic manipulations of candidate regions/pathways during formation or expression phase will impact on pair bond. Also, I hope to understand what’s the impact of neuropeptides on neural responses to social stimuli and help prairie voles form pair bond.

Kai Lu

kai [dot] lu [at] emory [dot] edu

My research interests are statistical learning, cognition in free running animals, and neurophysiology of large-scale brain network.

Graduate Students

Sena Agezo

sena [dot] agezo [at] emory [dot] edu

I’m interested in understanding how the oxytocin system in the striatum influences the neurophysiological mechanisms in behaviors such as social attachment, which gradually emerge over long timescales and involve a trajectory of dynamic behavioral interactions. I use computational and quantitative approaches to try to understand how social signals are translated into neural activity to modulate social behavioral responses.  I also apply machine learning and deep learning techniques to extract behavioral dynamics as the voles cohabitate and form social bonds.

Dakshitha Bashettyhalli Anandakumar

dakshitha3 [at] gatech [dot] edu

I am interested in studying the population coding of natural vocalizations in the auditory cortex that result in social behavior, and how sounds with different acoustic properties are categorized in the auditory cortex according to the behavioral meaning of the sound rather than the characteristics of the sound.

Undergraduate Students

Drayson Campbell

dbcamp2 [at] emory [dot] edu

I’m interested in studying the ultrasonic vocalizations emitted by prairie voles. Optimizing the automated detection and analysis of these vocalizations using deep learning is a current goal of mine that will aid in the characterization of prairie vole vocalizations.

Vanessa Wong

vvwong [at] emory [dot] edu

I am interested in studying the behavioral signatures of rodent auditory learning


Past members:

  • Danial Arslan (Undergraduate researcher) – Medical School
  • Dori Kacoh (Undergraduate researcher) – Medical School
  • Amielle Moreno (Emory NS 2019) – Science Communication
  • Alex Dunlap (GT BioE 2019) – Mathematician, Boeing
  • Kelly Chong (GT/Emory BME 2018) – Chief Operating Officer, Game Press
  • Matthew Tucker (Undergraduate researcher) –
  • Tamara Ivanova (Postdoc 2017)
  • Liz Ann Amadei (GT BME 2017) – Postdoc, ETH Zurich
  • Wittney Mays (Postbac) – Georgia State Bioinformatics Graduate Program
  • Aaron Shpiner (Undergraduate researcer) – Tufts Medical School
  • Katy Shepard (Emory NS 2014) – Genes in Space Program Lead, miniPCR bio
  • Rudolph Chip Mappus (Postdoc 2014) – Data Insights Director, AT&T
  • Alonzo Whyte (Postbac) – Academic Professional, Georgia Tech
  • Ankita Gumaste (Undergraduate researcher) – Yale Neuroscience Graduate Program
  • Frank Lin (GT BioE 2012) – Senior Manager of Data Science, Northrop Grumman
  • Zachary Aberman (Undergraduate researcher) – Florida International University Medical School
  • Malan Kern
  • Saket Kumar
  • Mary Catherine Stoumbos
  • Edgar Galindo-Leon (Postdoc 2010) – Physicist, Universitaetsklinikum Hamburg Eppendorf
  • Tatsuya Oishi (Undergraduate researcher)
  • Imke Kirste
  • Andrew Matthews
  • Jason Miranda (Postdoc 2009) – Galvani Bioelectronics
  • Ameya Save
  • Stephen Brink
  • Sara Freeman – UC Davis
  • Brian Kocher – Microsoft Senior Program Manager
  • Steven Sangha (Undergrad researcher) –
  • Yongkui Zhang (Postdoc 2006) – Southeast University (China) Assistant Professor
  • Huey Huynh (Undergrad researcher) – Mercer Medical School

Open Positions

Research Specialist Position in the Computational Neuroethology Laboratory

The Computational Neuroethology lab at Emory University seeks a research-oriented post-baccalaureate fellow to assist with experiments using rodents to study how the brain processes and learns social sensory information. We will train the fellow to perform rodent surgeries and histology, and conduct behavioral studies as well as optogenetic stimulation and electrophysiological recordings in awake mice and prairie voles, working with graduate students, postdocs and the principal investigator. Potential areas for individual growth and development include learning about social neuroscience research, better experimental design and computational analyses of data; contributions can merit inclusion on publications. A commitment of 2+ years is preferred. The ideal candidate would be excited to work in a neuroscience lab and learn new techniques; hold a bachelors in a neuroscience, biological, physical sciences or engineering field; and have an interest in the research of motivated behaviors and/or sensory neuroscience. We especially encourage candidate who can demonstrate good organizational and time management skills, with ability to multitask; good problem-solving skills; patience and attention to detail in carrying out experimental protocols; and some proficiency with computers, ideally with some programming skills (e.g. MATLAB, Python). Work experience with rodents and aseptic surgical procedures are a bonus. The position starts in January, 2021.

To see further details and apply, please go to

Postdoctoral Position in Computational and Systems Neuroscience

Department of Biology and Yerkes National Primate Research Center

The laboratories of Robert Liu, Gordon Berman and Larry Young at Emory University are accepting applications for a computationally oriented postdoctoral scientist to work in a collaborative team with experimentalists to analyze and model behavioral and neural data from studies of social/sensory information processing and learning in rodents. The research combines recent advances in computational ethology (Berman et al, Interface, 2014; Cande et al, eLife, 2018) with in vivo physiology and optogenetics to elucidate dynamic neural mechanisms mediating natural pro-social behaviors in prairie voles (Amadei, Johnson et al, Nature, 2017; Lim et al, Nature, 2004), and mice (Galindo-Leon, Lin et al, Neuron, 2009; Chong et al, Journal of Neuroscience, 2020). PhD required. We are looking for a systems-oriented candidate with advanced analysis and/or modeling experience with neural data, who is interested in applying her/his skills to the neuroscience of social behavior.

Emory University and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center have a rich, collaborative neuroscience community (, especially in the areas of translational social neuroscience ( and computational neuroscience ( Research at Emory in the neurobiology of social behavior extends across many labs from the molecular level through the organismal level in animal models and humans, with a particular interest in the functions of oxytocin ( Ongoing efforts include both elucidating normal processes and ameliorating deficits found in human conditions, like autism spectrum disorder.

To inquire or apply, please email robert [dot] liu [at] emory [dot] edu. Review of applications will continue until the position is filled. Applications should include a CV, the names and full contact information of 3 references, and at least one representative publication. Emory University is an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, people with disabilities and veterans are strongly encouraged to apply.


Amadei EA*, Johnson ZV*, Kwon YJ, Shpiner AC, Saravanan V, Mays W, Ryan S, Walum H, Rainnie D, Young LJ, Liu RC (2017). Dynamic corticostriatal activity biases social bonding in monogamous female prairie voles, Nature, 546(7657):297-301. doi:10.1038/nature22381

Berman GJ, Choi DM, Bialek W, Shaevitz JW (2014). Mapping the stereotyped behaviour of freely moving fruit flies. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 11(99):20140672. doi:10.1098/rsif.2014.0672

Cande J, Namiki S, Qiu J, Korff W, Card G, Shaevitz J, Stern D, Berman G (2018). Optogenetic dissection of descending behavioral control in Drosophila eLife 7: e34275. doi:10.7554/elife.34275

Chong KK, Anandakumar DB, Dunlap AG, Kacsoh DB, Liu RC (2020). Experience-dependent coding of time-dependent frequency trajectories by “Off” responses in secondary auditory cortex. Journal of Neuroscience (in press) doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2665-19.2020

Galindo-Leon EE*, Lin FG*, Liu RC (2009). Inhibitory plasticity in a lateral band improves cortical detection of natural vocalizations. Neuron 62:705-716. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2009.05.001

Lim, MM, Wang Z, Olazábal DE, Ren X, Terwilliger EF, Young LJ (2004). Enhanced partner preference in promiscuous species by manipulating the expression of a single gene. Nature, 429(6993):754-757. doi:10.1038/nature02539