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Ankita G

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Yale University


sensory system neuroscience, neuroscience research tools, cognition and perception (sensory illusions), behavioral neuroscience


Ever since I was in elementary school, I was fascinated while watching National Geographic with how adeptly animals in the wild can perform complicated behaviors and form intricate social structures. As an undergraduate at Emory University, I learned that many of these behaviors can be attributed to processing in the nervous system and are greatly influenced by sensory systems. I am passionate about studying how sensory perception drives innate and social behaviors in animals (including humans). In the past I have studied the role of the auditory system in maternal behavior as well as am currently studying how olfaction (sense of smell) can drive animal navigation to food sources in the wild. Outside of the lab and teaching I like to spend as much time as possible outdoors and love to hike. The next location on my hiking bucket list is Utah- to hike the many beautiful national parks there. I also love to cook food from all different cultures and am working to perfect many of my favorite recipes!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Hero rats, sniffing their way to valor!

Rats have an incredible sense of smell, or olfaction, and can sniff out odors from several meters away! There are ~1,000 receptors expressed in neurons of a rat's nose that are devoted to detecting odors. Due to their amazing sense of smell, rats are often trained to sniff out landmines in countries contaminated with these explosive devices. These rats save human life daily by identifying landmine locations. In this project you will study how rats are trained to detect landmines using their sense of smell. You will learn important principles of behavioral neuroscience as well as how neurons in the brain process smell.

Optical illusions and other quirks of the visual system

Have you ever wondered how optical illusions work and why sometimes our perception strays from reality? In this project you will explore the neural mechanisms behind several common optical illusions and other oddities we may notice in our visual perception. You will also delve into some critical processes of the visual system such as color and depth perception.

How do neurons communicate?

Scientists implement a variety of techniques to measure how neurons communicate in a variety of species, everywhere from humans to worms. New technology is constantly being developed to optimize these measurements and allow for the discovery of new aspects of brain activity. In this project you will learn about how neurons communicate with one another and will delve into several new techniques that scientists implement in the laboratory to measure neural activity. You will compare the advantages and disadvantages of each technique in order to understand how scientists select tools.

Coding skills


Teaching experience

I have taught several summer workshops to high school students on a variety of neuroscience topics (e.g. basic sensory systems, sensory illusions, perception and cognition). For the past five years I have organized large outreach events at Yale with the goal of providing high school students with a space to explore neuroscience topics, ask questions about the brain, and generally gain a better understanding of what it means to be a neuroscientist. Lastly, I mentor both high school and undergraduate students in the laboratory on independent projects as well as more closely guided research in assisting me with my project.


Work experience

National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) (2014 - 2016)
Post Baccalaureate Intramural Research Award Fellow
Yale University (2022 - Current)
Assistant Director of Educational Program Assessment


Emory University
BS Bachelor of Science (2014)
Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology
Yale University
MPhil Master of Philosophy (2019)
Neuroscience (systems)
Yale University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Neuroscience (systems)

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