I'M ALEX






    PhD Student at NYU

    brain evolution

    neurological disorders

    sex differences in the brain

    gene expression

  • What I Do

    I'm interested in the evolution of sex differences in primate cognition, neuroanatomy, and gene expression, and how these relate to the emergence of human neurological disorders. My dissertation will address this topic through both broad comparative analyses and targeted within-species studies. I will be considering multiple levels of brain organization, including functional brain region volumes, sulcal morphology, and gene expression.


    Besides writing R code and looking at brains all day... I'm a passionate Teaching Assistant, and I mentor some wonderful ladies (who are sure to be future STEM leaders). Kimberly and I worked together to get her a DART research grant, and she just got accepted into the Teacher's College of Columbia! Talar is an aspiring engineer, avid Science Fair winner, and wonderful writer!


    I am thankful for every day spent learning something new. Leaving Wall Street was the best decision I've ever made.


    Click here to check out what my fantastic lab-mates are doing!

  • Funding/Collaborations

    Thank you to everyone who supports me and my research!

    New York University


    Dr. James Higham,

    Dr. Scott Williams,

    Dr. Terry Harrison

    MacCracken Fellowship

    GSAS Predoctoral Summer Fellowship

    New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP)

    National Science Foundation

    Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

    George Washington University

    Dr. Chet Sherwood's Laboratory for Evolutionary Neuroscience

    Georgia State University | Neuroscience Institute

    Dr. Bill Hopkins' Research Lab

    Columbia University

    Dr. James Curley's Research Lab

    University of Dusseldorf

    Cécile and Oskar Vogt Institute of Brain Research

    Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

    Dr. Patrick Hof's Laboratory of Neuromorphology

    University of Pennsylvania

    Platt Lab

    (Dr. Michael Platt)

    University of Washington

    Smack Lab

    (Dr. Noah Snyder-Mackler)

    Caribbean Primate Research Center

    University of Puerto Rico

  • Projects

    A selection of papers and projects I was/am involved with:

    Primate brain size is predicted by diet, not sociality


    DeCasien, A.R., Williams, S.A., Higham, J.P. (2017). Primate brain size evolution is predicted by diet but not sociality. Nature Ecology and Evolution 1:0112.


    Click here to read the paper, or here for a blog-style "behind the science" piece I wrote!


    You can also go here or here for some great media coverage, and here to read a comment by Dr. Richard Wrangham!

    Megalencephaly and macrocephaly genes are associated with comparative variation in primate brain size [abstract].


    DeCasien, A.R., Yim, A. (2017). Megelencephaly and macrocephaly genes are associated with comparative variation in primate brain size [abstract]. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 162(S64): 159.


    Click here to read more!

    Primate energy requirements: brains, babies, or behavior?


    DeCasien, A., Brown, M., Ross, S., Pontzer, H. (In press). In Primate Diet & Nutrition (Eds. Lambert, J., Rothman, J.) University of Chicago Press.

    Sex and dominance rank effects on gene expression across the mouse brain

    Collaboration with Dr. James Curley's lab at Columbia University

    Sex and dominance rank effects on gene expression across the rhesus macaque brain

  • Education 

    Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

    New York University (NYU)

    Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) 2016-present

    Biological Anthropology

    Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

    New York University (NYU)

    Master of Arts (M.A.) 2014-2016

    Biological Anthropology

    Leonard N. Stern School of Business

    New York University (NYU)

    Bachelor of Science (B.S.) 2009-2013

    Economics & Biological Anthropology