Urban Lab Department of Biological Sciences and Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at Carnegie Mellon University

4400 Fifth Ave Mellon Institute
Pittsburgh PA 15213


Lab Photo

Urban Lab Members



Principle Investigator - Nathan Urban, Ph.D.
Frederick A. Schwertz Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences and Head, Department of Biological sciences.
Professor, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Adjunct Professor Department of Neuroscience University of Puttsburgh and Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh

Work in my lab focuses on how networks of real neurons give rise to brain function and especially brain computation. Thus we use physiological and optical approaches to monitor neuronal activity while also developing computational models of the neurons and circuits from which we record. Much of our work is performed using the mouse olfactory system as a model for the kinds of processing that occurs throughout many areas of the brain. We are particularly interested in mechanisms and functions of oscillations and synchrony, dynamics of inhibitory interactions in networks, and dendritic integration/single neuron computation. We are also interested in the regulation of synapse specification, both during early development and during the integration of adult-born neurons. Finally, we are working with several collaborators to develop new approaches to the study of decision making in human subjects.

Rick Gerkin

Postdoc - Rick Gerkin -

rickg AT SYMBOL cmu PERIOD edu

I am interested in how odor representation unfolds across time in the olfactory system, and whether such temporal dynamics can contribute to olfactory performance in vivo.  Specifically, I am investigating the
contribution of inhibitory synaptic input to the temporal patterning of ensemble mitral cell activity in vivo, and how this temporal patterning might increase the identification or discriminability of odors.

Sonya Gridhar

Ph.D. Student - Sonya Giridhar

sbp11+ AT SYMBOL pitt DOT edu

I am interested in using electrophysiology and computational modeling to understand the dynamics and impact of mitral cell correlations across time scales.


Ken Hovis 

Ph.D. student - Ken Hovis

khovis AT SYMBOL @cmu DOT edu

I am currently working on a project along with Jason Castro examining the spontaneous synaptic activity of mitral cells as a result of activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors in the accessory olfactory bulb.




Daniel Jimenez

Ph.D. student - Daniel Jimenez

djimenez AT SYMBOL gmail DOT com

I am interested in the functional integration of stem cells into neural circuits. Our experiments in the olfactory bulb point to ongoing activity as a modulator of the ability of neural stem cells to enter an existing neural system. In order to investigate this we use a variety of techniques including viral transfection, behavior, electrophysiology, and 2 photon in vivo imaging.



Research Technician - Greg LaRocca

glarocca AT SYMBOL andrew DOT cmu DOT edu

I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1982 with a B.S. in Microbiology, and since that time have worked at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Cellomics, Inc. My current responsibilities include immunohistological staining and imaging of olfactory bulb slices, maintaining the labs’ microscope systems, and ordering supplies.


Postdoc - Elli Kanal


Anne Marie Oswald

Postdoc - Anne-Marie Oswald

ammoswald AT SYMBOL gmail DOT com

I am investigating how odor-specific inputs from different populations of mitral cells are integrated in cortical neurons.


Krishnan Padmanabhan

Postdoc - Krishnan Padmanabhan

kpadmana AT SYMBOL andrew DOT cmu DOT edu

Shreejoy Tripathy

Ph.D. Student - Shreejoy Tripathy

stripat3 AT SYMBOL gmail DOT com



Urban Lab Alumni  


Former Ph.D. Student - Vikrant Kapoor

Now postdoc in lab of Venky Murthy - Harvard


Former Student and Postdoc - Jason Castro

Now postdoc in lab of Karl Kandler- Pitt


Former MD/PhD student - Armen Arevian

Now fourth year medical student


Former Postdoc - Roberto Fernánadez Galán Ph.D.

Now Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University

My research is at the juncture between physics -my background- and neurobiology -my vocation. I am focusing on understanding biophysical mechanisms for neuronal synchronization and its role in sensory coding. To this end, I study phase-response curves and stochastic synchronization in real neurons, which allows me to construct realistic computer models of neuronal networks, like the olfactory bulb.


Josh Bagley - Former Undergraduate

Now grad student at UCSF

I study the specification of adult-born neurons into different biochemical subtypes of olfactory bulb neurons such as those expressing calretinin, calbindin, tyrosine-hydroxylase, n-copine, and GABA.  Currently this involves the expression of these markers at different periods from the last division of these newly generated neurons in the adult mouse.


Nicolas Fourcaud Trocmé Ph.D. - Former Postdoc

Now Chargez Recherche - CNRS Lyon


Postdoc - Sameer Walawalkar, Ph.D

Zhengping Ji

Postdoc - Zhengping Ji

Urban Lab Collaborators Bard Ermentrout, University of Pittsburgh Department of Mathematics
Troy Margrie, University College London
Pavel Osten, Northwestern University
Jay McClelland, Stanford University