Welcome to the Lab of Flexibility in Circuits & Behaviour team!

We're located at SISSA in the beautiful Italian town of Trieste at the Adriatic Sea and close to Slovenia, Austria and Croatia. 

Current Group Members:

Katja Reinhard, Group Leader

Understanding how our body works always fascinated me, so I decided to study Biomedical Sciences (Fribourg & Bern, Switzerland). A transforming lecture about electrophysiology by Hugues Abriel led to a clear decision: I wanted to learn how to record cellular activity and use this knowledge to study the brain. I first went to the Abriel lab for my Master thesis and learned patch clamp, and then joined the lab of Thomas Münch in Tübingen, Germany, to study the retina in various species and in different contexts. Like many other retina scientists, I decided that everything after the retina might actually be an interesting black box and hence joined Karl Farrow in Leuven, Belgium, to gain insights into how information from the retina is used to guide innate behaviors. Connecting what I learned about adaptation in the retina with my knowledge about circuits through the superior colliculus that mediate innate behaviors, is the basis of my research program on flexibility in the visuo-motor system.

When I'm not in the lab or writing grants, I like to dance salsa and forro, hike or ski in the mountains, and discuss everything and nothing over delicious food. 

Contact: katja.reinhard[at]     CV   ResearchGate   Twitter Mastodon  GoogleScholar   BlueSky 

Lorenza Tortella, PhD candidate

Since I was a teenager I’ve always been interested in science and I decided to study Biological Sciences (University of Urbino, Italy). During the third year of my bachelor, the first class of neurophysiology held by Professor Stefano Sartini was revealing. Therefore, I decided to do an internship in his laboratory in which I discovered electrophysiology, and it was actually love at first sight. Having the possibility to record cellular activity while neurons are communicating with each other was over my expectation. I moved to Trieste (Italy) to study Neuroscience and during my master thesis I learned patch clamp in vitro in the lab of Professor Laura Ballerini at SISSA. I enjoyed the beautiful scientific environment and decided to apply for a PhD in Neurobiology in SISSA. After having graduated in July 2022, I’m currently a PhD student in the Flexibility in Circuits & Behaviour lab of Professor Katja Reinhard in which I’ll have the opportunity to study how brain circuits work also in vivo and how they are used to adapt and to mediate innate behaviours. 

When I’m not in the lab, I like cooking, play boardgames and go out for a tea with good friends. I’m also a cat lover. 

Contact: lorenza.tortella[at]

Projects: ERG "FLEXIN" -  focus on effect of ambient light on innate behaviours and underlying circuits

Fear responses in prion protein-deficient mice (collaboration with Legname Lab)

Time in the lab: November 2022 - 

Camilla Lodetti, PhD candidate

To briefly introduce myself, I am a highly motivated and passionate Neuroscientist. Since my first steps in the academic world, I knew that research would become my main goal in my future carrier. Because of this, I pursued my bachelor’s degree at University of Milan in Medical Biotechnology, that allowed me to approach to my great passion: Neuroscience. This interest led me to continue my studies at the University of Trieste, enrolling in the International Master’s Degree programme in Neuroscience. I wrote my master thesis project on Parkinson’s disease and specifically on “Corticostriatal activity maps in a mouse model of dopaminergic dyskinesia”. My thesis is the outcome of a year of research experience as intern at the Basal Ganglia Pathophysiology Unit, laboratory focused on neuropharmacology at the Lund University (Sweden) under the supervision of Prof. Angela Cenci Nilsson. After graduation I spent another year In Sweden in the same lab to continue my projects as project assistant. Thanks to this challenging period abroad, I acquired enough laboratory experience which includes working with mice, immunohistochemical protocols and fluorescence microscopy. Currently, my love for Trieste and Neuroscience research intersects at Sissa where I had the possibility to enrol as PhD student in the Flexibility in Circuits & Behaviour lab of Professor Katja Reinhard focusing my future research on brain circuits in vivo on adapted and innate behaviours.

When I’m not in the lab, I’m probably at the gym doing CrossFit or running.  

Contact: clodetti[at]    CV

Projects: ERG "FLEXIN" -  focus on evolution of innate behaviours and underlying circuits

Fear responses in prion protein-deficient mice (collaboration with Legname Lab)

Time in the lab: November 2023

Po-Yu Liao, PhD candidate

During my Master's program, it was a starting point that made me obsessed with the neuroscience field. It was a great journey to work with Dr. Shih-Kuo Chen and all the members of lab622 in the Department of Life Science at National Taiwan University. We investigated how external light cues influence an animal’s social behavior and mapped the oxytocin neuron distribution in the mouse brain. After my military service in Taiwan, I sought to further enhance my knowledge and laboratory skills in Dr. Jason Kerr and Dr. Kevin Briggman’s labs at Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology of Behavior-caesar in Germany for my first time PhD journey. However, I didn’t complete this remarkable journey due to some unexpected reasons. Instead, I went back to my hometown for a break and then returned to research again in Dr. Ming-Shiu Hung’s lab at the National Health Research Institute for Pharmaceutical Development in Parkinson’s Disease.

Through these diverse lab experiences in distinct environments and research areas, I’m fascinated to start a new research path in Katja’s lab and try to find interesting research topics and interaction opportunities.

When I’m not in the lab, I play volleyball, kung-fu, Jiu-Jitsu and photography.

Contact:  pliao[at] GoogleScholar ResearchGate Twitter 

Projects: ERG "FLEXIN" -  focus on circadian effects on innate behaviours and underlying circuits

Time in the lab: November 2023 - 

Lucia Zanetti, Postdoc

After completing my master´s degree in Neuroscience, I embarked on my first real lab experience, moving from Trieste to Lund, Sweden. It was in Angela Cenci-Nilsson´s lab where I really dived in the magic world of patch-clamp. After this experience I decided I wanted to be a researcher so in 2016, I started my PhD at the University of Innsbruck under the supervision of Alexandra Koschak and, jointly, the Marie Sklodowska Curie ITN network “SwitchBoard” which connected several lab around Europe to study the light transmission pathways in the retina. Later on, I continued my postdoc in Jörg Striessnig´s lab, studying the biophysical properties of heterologous expressed L-type calcium channels. My scientific journey has led me to the conclusion that my passion for recording anything that shows an ionic current knows no bounds – location, shape, and species are just details! Now, I am happy to continue my research journey by joining Katja Reinhard´s lab in SISSA, and to focus on the visuo-motor circuitry in the brain.

When I am not in the lab, you´ll likely find me learning something new (anything!) or taking long walks surrounded by nature. And let´s not forget the joy of indulging in a slice of homemade cake afterwards! 

Contact:  lucia.zanetti[at]

Projects: ERG "FLEXIN" 

Time in the lab: April 2024

Former Group Members:

Ming-Ching Chiang, postdoc August 2023 - December 2023