A B O U T   M E

Hermina Portrait


I am a neuroscientist working at the intersection of molecular neuroanatomy and behavior. My general interest is to understand how experiences are instantiated in the brain's neurocircuitry with an emphasis on drug addiction. Such experience-dependent neural circuit plasticity is valuable knowledge in the context of drug-evoked brain changes - information we need to devise novel therapeutics for relapse prevention.   


I completed my B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Following a short period in Japan where I trained in molecular neurobiology with Dr. Yamamoto at the University of Osaka Medical School, I began my graduate training at New York University (NYU) as a master's student with Dr. Chiye Aoki. My work at NYU had a profound influence in my developing an interest in experience-dependent neuronal plasticity. 


For my PhD, as a Marie Curie Fellow and a JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) Fellow under the mentorship of both Drs. Arbuthnott and Aoki, I focused on experience-dependent neuronal plasticity of cell assemblies in the cerebellum - an area with well-documented neural circuitry.


Subsequently, I was fortunate to be funded by a second JSPS Fellowship and was kindly hosted by Dr. Sugihara at Tokyo Medical and Dental University to conduct brain-wide examinations of long-range axonal trajectories in their entirety, bringing me closer to being able to access neural circuits in detail.


At the end of 2016, I transitioned back to California to pursue my research goal of bridging neural circuit plasticity and behavior at The Scripps Research Institute with Dr. Suto and Dr. Weiss. I am currently using activity-based interrogations of groups of neurons - neuronal ensembles - within discrete circuits to link activation of selected neurons with drug-seeking behavior.