Josh Levitz


Assistant Professor


Josh received a B.S. in Biology and a B.S. in Physics from American University in 2009. While an undergraduate he worked in the lab of Miguel Holmgren at the National Institutes of Health. As a PhD student and postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Ehud Isacoff at UC Berkeley, Josh developed and applied new optical approaches to study the activation mechanisms and neurophysiology of glutamate receptors and ion channels. He joined the department of biochemistry at Weill Cornell in September 2016.



Joon Lee


Postdoctoral Fellow

Joon received B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry from Yonsei University, Korea in 2009 and 2011. He was awarded a scholarship from KT&G scholarship foundation during his master’s and studied dynamics of mechanical unfolding of single soluble protein molecules using a correlated force-fluorescence technique. He then came to UC San Diego for his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering Program and studied structures and ion-transporting properties of amyloid beta peptides in model lipid membranes and also developed a novel force sensor using a nanofiber waveguide in the lab of Ratnesh Lal. During his PhD, he was awarded a scholarship from Frontiers of Innovation Scholar’s Program at UC San Diego in 2014-2015. After receiving his PhD in 2017, he worked in the lab of Peter Novick at Cellular and Molecular Medicine, UC San Diego as a short-term postdoc and studied dynamic structures of Uso1 protein involved in membrane trafficking. He joined the Levitz lab in 2018 and is focused on studying molecular structure and function of GPCRs using single molecule techniques.



Amanda Acosta Ruiz


PhD Student

After growing up in Puerto Rico, Amanda earned her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in Biology with a concentration in Neurobiology. She was an undergraduate researcher at Dr. Michael Marks’ lab studying the SNARE proteins involved in trafficking melanin in melanosomes. She then worked as a research technician in Dr. Matthew Lazzara’s lab at Penn for a year studying endocytosis in kidney cells. Amanda is currently a PhD student in the Biochemistry Department at Weill Cornell. Her interests focus on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of synaptic transmission and modulation. Beyond the bench, Amanda enjoys science policy and exploring the New York food scene. 

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Vanessa Gutzeit


PhD Student

Vanessa graduated from Emory University in 2015 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. At Emory she conducted research in the lab of Dr. Kerry Ressler investigating the role of perineuronal nets in synaptic plasticity and fear memory. After graduating, Vanessa worked with Dr. Zoe Donaldson in the Dr. René Hen lab at Columbia University as a laboratory technician. There she studied the role of social buffering and SNP variants on fear and anxiety in animal models.  Vanessa is currently interested in the circuit-based roles of mGluR-mediated synaptic modulation and plasticity in animal models of psychiatric disorders.

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Jordana Thibado 


PhD Student

Jordana graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arkansas in May 2016 with a B.S. in Chemistry and a concentration in Biochemistry. As an undergraduate, she conducted research in the lab of Dr. Roger Koeppe II where her work centered on designing and creating arginine-containing transmembrane peptides and using solid-state deuterium NMR spectroscopy to study protein/lipid interactions and ionizable residue behavior. In August 2016, Jordana started her Ph.D. in the Physiology, Biophysics, and Systems Biology (PBSB) program at Weill Cornell. She was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and is interested in studying structure-function relationships of GPCRs.



Nohely Abreu


PhD Student

Nohely earned a B.A. in Neuroscience from Queens College in 2016. As an undergraduate she worked in the lab of Dr. Carolyn Pytte where she investigated the effects of black mold exposure on adult neurogenesis. She later worked as a Post-Baccalaureate Research Scholar in the lab of Dr. Erika Holzbaur at the University of Pennsylvania. There she studied the molecular mechanisms of vesicle capture at presynaptic sites. Nohely was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and joined the Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (BCMB) Allied Program at Weill Cornell in 2017. She is interested in receptor trafficking and its role in neurotransmission.


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Konstantinos Vlachos 



Konstantinos, a native of Greece, earned his B.A. in Biochemistry and Biology from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. While there, he worked in Dr. Nancy Wall’s developmental biology lab studying the role of the TGFβ-related gene xvg1 in regulating left-right patterning in zebrafish. Following graduation in June 2015, Konstantinos joined Dr. Andy Zelhof’s lab at Indiana University Bloomington as a research associate for two years, studying photoreceptor cell differentiation in Drosophila and Tribolium. Konstantinos joined the Levitz Lab in October 2017.