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Constantina Theofanopoulou, Ph.D.

Hunter College


Constantina Theofanopoulou is an Associate Research Professor at Hunter College, City University of New York, a Visiting Associate Professor at Rockefeller University, and a Fellow at New York University. She is directing the Neurobiology of Social Communication lab, which is co-funded by both Hunter College and Rockefeller University. She is interested in understanding the neurobiology of social communication, in complex human sensorimotor behaviors, such as speech and dance. For her Ph.D. (University of Barcelona, Duke University and Rockefeller University) she worked on the neurobiology of speech, and specifically on the social reward mechanisms of vocal learning, studying the role of oxytocin in vocal learning in songbirds. This project led her to realize that the oxytocin/vasotocin field was suffering from an old and inconsistent gene nomenclature, which was hampering advances and translation of findings. During her Post Doc (Rockefeller University), she used genomic methods and proposed novel ways of how gene nomenclature should be revisited, aiming at a universal vertebrate gene nomenclature, shaking traditional views of the pre-genomic era. Dr. Theofanopoulou has received more than 20 awards for her scientific studies, including the distinction in the Forbes 2021 list of the 30 most successful scientists under the age of 30. She is also actively involved in the dissemination of science to the general public and in inspirational speech (e.g., speech at the University of Yale, TED talk), as well as in the support of underrepresented minorities in science. She has served as STEM mentor in the New York Academy of Sciences, teaching Life Sciences to elementary and middle school students in underserved communities throughout NYC, and in 2021, she was voted networking coordinator at the Council of the Rockefeller Inclusive Science Initiative.

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