Alumnus returns to campus to discuss doctoral research in neuroscience

20150429-4_Cognitive-Science-Colloquium_06Joseph DiPietro ’08 (Psychology – Psychobiology), doctoral candidate at the Fetcho Lab in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, visited campus on April 29 to speak about the work he’s done since graduating from SUNY New Paltz.

His lecture, entitled “Zebrafish in Neuroscience: Modern Approaches to Studying Neuronal Dynamics in a Live Animal,” was presented as part of the Cognitive Science Colloquium Series.

DiPietro discussed experimental techniques in modern neuroscience that are available to researchers using this small member of the minnow family.

He also shared some outcomes of his own efforts to understand how the dendrites of motor neurons in the spinal cord search for new inputs, and the role that sleep and circadian rhythms might have on the regulation of neuronal circuits.

The speaker credited the close relationships he forged with his professors with preparing him to do cutting-edge research in his field.

“The great thing about SUNY New Paltz is the small class sizes really allow you to get to know your professors,” DiPietro said. “Having strong connections with my professors gave me opportunities not only to delve deeper into the class material, but also to learn about my options for the future.”


“It’s great to be back in New Paltz visiting the professors who laid the groundwork for where I am today. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without their support.” – Joe DiPietro ’08, Fetcho Lab, Cornell University[/pullquote]

DiPietro also offered the students in attendance a more general perspective on research-based careers.

“All graduate schools look for lab experience in potential candidates,” DiPietro said. “My advice would be to talk with your favorite professors about getting that experience, and also to talk with them about what a career in academia and research entails.”

In the years since his graduation from New Paltz DiPietro has worked not only as a researcher, but as an educator. He taught biology in the New York City middle school system before joining Cornell University, and is currently an instructor of neuroscience for the Cornell Prison Education Program at Auburn Correctional Facility.

“Since he was a student at New Paltz, Joe has shown an intellectual passion for learning and for the topic of learning,” said Giordana Grossi, professor of psychology and former faculty advisor to DiPietro. “It was a pleasure to have him here as a student, and it is an even greater pleasure, for me, to have him here as a speaker.”

More information about the Cognitive Science Colloquium Series and Cornell University’s Fetcho Lab is available online.