Kenta Asahina

Assistant Professor
McLoraine Developmental Chair

Kenta received B.S. from the University of Tokyo, and Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University. His Ph.D. thesis in Professor Leslie Vosshall’s lab elucidated a neuronal mechanism of intensity-invariant chemotaxis behavior. He received his postdoctoral training in Professor David Anderson’s lab at California Institute of Technology, where he uncovered neuronal and genetic elements controlling antagonistic behavior. From 2011 to 2013, he was a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Research Overseas fellow. Since October 2014, Kenta is an Assistant Professor at The Salk Institute. He loves nature, arts and good coffee. In his scarce free time, he likes to hike trails in San Diego County, snorkel, visit art galleries and try out new cafes.

Kenichi Ishii

Postdoctoral Fellow

Kenichi received a B.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo, Japan. His Ph.D. thesis was focused on infectious diseases, and he studied the molecular basis of host-pathogen interactions through biochemical and genetic approaches using the silkworm as a model animal. He expanded his pharmacological research with colleagues to identify a novel therapeutically effective antibiotic and the bacterial component it targets. As a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science postdoctoral fellow, he shifted his interest from micro- to macro-scaled interactions, featuring social insects such as honeybees and ants. To gain further understanding of animal behaviors at molecular and neuronal levels, he joined Kenta’s lab on April 2015 as a research associate. Kenichi is generally interested in battles and jostling between organisms, any forms of fights for lives. Like an honest miner, he aims to excavate gems from untamed research fields. …And, he enjoys Sake, beer, and whisky! Publication list:

Margot Wohl

UCSD Neuroscience Graduate Student

Margot received her B.A. in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania and stuck around Philly afterwards to work in neuroscience labs and eat the occasional cheese steak. A neuroscience graduate student, she hopes to elucidate the role of neuropeptides and neural circuit properties that give rise to aggressive behaviors. Also, Margot is the creator and producer of the KPBS podcast, “Rad Scientist”? which profiles local scientists.

Andre DeSouza

UCSD Neuroscience Graduate Student

Andre received a B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park. While at the University of Maryland he completed an Honors Thesis in the lab of Ricardo Araneda where he studied the cholinergic neuromodulation of mitral cells and granule cells in the olfactory bulb. As an HHMI EXROP awardee he spent two summers interning in the lab of Richard Axel studying appetitive olfactory learning behavior in Drosophila. Andre is currently a neuroscience graduate student at the University of California, San Diego. He is interested in understanding the genetic and circuit mechanisms that underlie aggression. In his free time he enjoys playing sports and hanging out at the beach.

Courtney Ambrosius

Research Assistant I

Courtney earned a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from California Lutheran University. Upon graduation, she joined a molecular diagnostics team working to validate a genetic test for hereditary cancer. She enjoyed interpreting the significance of genetic variants and their associations with cancer risk, but is eager to explore new discoveries in the academic research field of neuroscience. Her ultimate goal is to positively impact global health.


Matteo Cortese

Post-doctoral Researcher

Matteo received his B.S. from the Università degli Studi di Trieste and then joined an international program at the Université Paris Diderot, where he earned a M.S. in Genetics and Genomics. Matteo remained in Paris to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie. His doctoral research in Professor Petit’s Lab at Institut Pasteur focused on the development and function of mammalian vestibular and auditory sensory cells. Adopting a comparative strategy combining biochemistry and imaging to in silico analysis, he unraveled a Darwinian process pivotal to the evolution of the unparalleled performances of mammalian hearing. Working on sensory systems raised his interest on how the brain leverages the information acquired in order to elaborate appropriate responses to the everyday social challenges. To tackle this problem, Matteo transitioned to the fruit fly and joined Kenta’s Lab on November 2017. Matteo likes exploring historical sites, painting exhibitions, science-fiction and cold winters.

Sparsha Saxena

Research Assistant

Sparsha obtained her B.A in Molecular and Cellular Biology from University of California, Berkeley. A Bay Area native, following her graduation, she moved down to San Diego to build upon her research experiences as an undergraduate. She spent time working in both the Department of Dermatology, exploring how the environment impacts the lipid barrier of our skin, and the Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, investigating how cellular adhesion impacts progression of tumor morphology, at University of California, San Francisco. Sparsha hopes to use her academic experiences along with her research experiences to improve the quality of education and healthcare in the United States. In her time outside of the lab, she enjoys trying recipes from the chefs from her favorite restaurant, Chez Panisse, trying to get in some physical activity, and reading novels that she has intended to read for a while.

Melissa Vieri

Exchange Student


Sheetal Potdar

Postdoctoral Fellow


Xubo Leng

Student Intern

Asahina lab alumni

Chun Yin (Caven) Chow

Undergraduate Intern

Maria Villalon Landeros

Undergraduate Intern

Stella Kramer

Postdoctoral Fellow

Teagen Gray Partin

Research Assistant II

Julia Liu

Undergraduate Intern

Pavan Nayak

Research Assistant I

Cheng-Lin (Vivian) Shaw

Undergraduate Intern