Maria Neimark Geffen, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Maria is interested in the way the brain encodes information about the world around us. She combines computational and biological approaches to study the mechanisms behind the transformation of sensory representations.

Maria first got interested in systems neuroscience through her undergraduate thesis under mentorship of John Hopfield at Princeton University, in which she explored the mechanics of whisking in rats. She studied texture encoding in the somatosensory system with Christopher Moore at MIT during her first two years of graduate school at Harvard.  She completed her Ph.D. in the laboratory of Markus Meister at Harvard University, where she discovered a novel retinal circuit for processing moving images. After her Ph.D., she was a fellow at the Center for Physics and Biology at Rockefeller University, where she worked first in collaboration with the Laurent laboratory on temporal processing in the olfactory system, and next under mentorship of Marcelo Magnasco, exploring the dynamics of natural sounds.

In her free time, she enjoys listening to natural and unnatural sounds while flaneuring across cities, parks, beaches and mountains. She may be spotted after work making funny noises with her three kids on the local playgrounds.

B.A. Princeton University (2001)

Molecular Biology, with concentrations in Biophysics and Visual Arts

Ph.D. Harvard University (2006)


Assistant Professor

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Department of Otorhinolaryngology

Department of Neuroscience



Janet Werker (UBC)

Judit Gervain (University Descartes Paris V)

Yale Cohen (University of Pennsylvania)

Brian Litt (University of Pennsylvania)

Diego Contreras (University of Pennsylvania)

Diego Laplagne (Rockefeller University)

Marcelo Magnasco (Rockefeller University)

Isaac Carruthers

Physics Graduate Group

Graduate students

B.A. University of Maryland (2010)

Physics, Computer Science

Mark Aizenberg

Post-doctoral fellows

Ph.D. Weizmann Institute of Science (2005)

B.A., M.Sc. Hebrew University (1998)

Ryan Natan

Neuroscience Graduate Group

Undergraduate students

B.A. UCSD (2009)

Physiology and Neuroscience

M.A. UCSD (2010)

Biological Sciences

Lab Alumni

Laetitia Mwilambwe-Tshilobo

Research Staff

B.A. College of Wooster (2010)


M.A. University of Hartford (2012)


Jennifer Blackwell

Neuroscience Graduate Group

B.A. University of Pennsylvania (2012)


John Briguglio

Physics Graduate Group

Andrew Chen

Penn, Class of 2017

General Lee

Penn Computational Neuroscience Summer Program

Norbert Cruz

Penn Biomedical Science Summer Program

Liana Cheung

Biological Basis of Behavior, Penn Class of 2012

Medical Student, University of Queensland, Australia

Lisa Liu

Cognitive Science, Penn Class of 2014

Danielle Mohabir

Penn, Class of 2015

Andrew Davis

Penn, Class of 2013

Anh Nguyen

Penn, Class of 2015

Josh Margolis

Penn, Class of 2014