• Postdoctoral Fellow

    National Institute of Mental Health

    Section on Developmental Neurogenomics

    brain evolution • sex differences

    neurological conditions • normative neurodevelopment

    comparative neuroanatomy • "omics"

  • Research

    I am a biological anthropologist, evolutionary neuroscientist, & computational biologist.


    In my work, I integrate these disciplines to ask and answer big questions that are central to our understanding of primate and, in particular, human brain evolution. These questions are wide in scope, and span both the proximate and ultimate mechanisms. For example:

    • Which selective pressures led some primate species, including humans, to evolve relatively large brains?
    • How and why do the brains of individuals of the same species differ (e.g., how are brains affected by age, sex, sociality, etc.)?
    • What kinds of genetic, epigenetic, and transcriptomic changes led to these inter- and intra-specific differences?
    • How do human brain sex differences contribute to sex-biases in the prevalence/presentation of certain neurological and psychiatric conditions?

    I combine phylogenetic comparative methods, neuroimaging, ‘omics’, and bioinformatics to create a multidisciplinary approach that enables me to attack these types of questions with sophistication and rigor. This is the approach I took in my NSF-funded (GRFP, DDRIG) dissertation project – Variation in neuroanatomy and gene expression in primate brains. I am now at the NIMH working to characterize normative sex differences in brain cell-type specific gene expression patterns across the human brain.


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


    Check out what my current lab and my PhD lab are up to!!

  • Ongoing projects

    Characterizing normative sex differences in cell-type specific gene expression in the human brain

    With Dr. Armin Raznahan

    Linking the evolution of human  gametologue expression to sex differences in disease

    With Dr. Armin Raznahan

    Evolutionary and biomedical implications of sex differences in the primate brain transcriptome

    Click here to read the preprint!

    DeCasien*, Chiou*, et al., In review

    Primate microbiome effects on mouse brain gene expression

    Ongoing collaboration with Dr. Katherine Amato's and Dr. Chris Kuzawa's Research Labs

  • Previous work


    Sex differences in the human brain: a roadmap for more careful analysis and interpretation of a biological reality

    DeCasien et al. 2022

    Click here to read the MS!

    Understanding the human brain: insights from comparative biology

    DeCasien et al. 2022

    Click here to read the MS!

  • Previous work

    Research Articles

    Links to disease and the social environment in the aging brain transcriptome

    Chiou*, DeCasien*, et al. 2022

    Click here to read the MS!

    Greater variability inrhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) endocranial volume among males

    Colby*, DeCasien*, et al. 2022

    Click here to read the MS!

    Variation and heritability of retinal cone ratios in a free ranging population of rhesus macaques

    Munds et al. 2022

    Click here to read the MS!

    Equivocal evidence for a link between megalencephaly-related genes and primate brain evolution

    DeCasien et al. 2022

    Click here to read the MS!

    DomArchive: A century of published dominance data

    Strauss et al. 2022

    Click here to read the MS!

    Social connections predict brain structure in a multidimensional free-ranging primate society​

    Testard et al. 2022

    Click here to read the MS!

    The expression of care: alloparental care frequency predicts neural control of facial muscles in primates​

    Cerrito & DeCasien 2021

    Click here to read the MS!

    Greater variability in chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) brain structure among males

    DeCasien et al. 2020

    Click here to read the MS!

    Relative cerebellum size Is not sexually dimorphic across primates​

    DeCasien & Higham 2020

    Click here to read the MS!

    Primate mosaic brain evolution reflects selection on sensory & cognitive specialization

    DeCasien & Higham 2019

    Click here to read the MS!

    Social hierarchy position in female mice is associated w/ plasma cort & hypothalamic gene expression

    Williamson et al. 2019

    Click here to read the MS!

    Encephalization & longevity coevolved in Euarchontoglires but not in other mammals

    DeCasien et al. 2018

    Click here to read the MS!

    Primate brain size is predicted by diet, not sociality

    DeCasien et al. 2017

    Click here to read the MS, and here for a blog-style piece I wrote!

    Media: Scientific American, NPR, New Scientist

  • Mentorship

    Tiffany Ajumobi

    NIH Academy Enrichment Program

    Gabby Galindo +

    Varvy Rousseau

    NYU Diversity Undergraduate Research Incubator (DURI) Program

    Zosia Caes + 

    Etta Harshaw

    NYU Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE) Program

  • Funding & Collaborations

    Thank you to everyone who supports me and my research!

    National Institute of Mental Health

    Intramural Research and Training Award (IRTA)


    Dr. Armin Raznahan's Lab

    New York University


    Dr. James Higham,

    Dr. Scott Williams,

    Dr. Terry Harrison


    MacCracken Fellowship

    GSAS Predoctoral Summer Fellowship

    New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology


    National Science Foundation

    Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)


    Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DDRIG)

    Caribbean Primate Research Center

    University of Puerto Rico

    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)

    Northwestern University

    Dr. Katherine Amato and Dr. Chris Kuzawa's Research Labs