Joe was born in Princeton New Jersey, and grew up in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, U.S.A. He received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Tufts University in 2000. At Tufts, Joe worked in the invertebrate neurophysiology lab of Dr. Barry Trimmer, studying the organization of central pattern generators in the nerve cord of the larval Manduca sexta caterpillar. After his third year of university in the Trimmer lab, Joe worked as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute summer student during the summer of 1999 in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Michelson at Harvard Medical School, which studies the genetic determinants of cell fate during development in Drosophila melanogaster. After university, Joe moved to California to work as a research technician at Stanford University in the laboratory of Dr. William Newsome, which studies neural mechanisms of vision and decision making. in 2001, Joe moved back to the east coast to start work towards his PhD at Columbia University in New York City in the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Salzman, where he studied the neural mechanisms that underly learning about positive and negative value. In 2008, Joe received his PhD with distinction and joined the Champalimaud Neuroscience Program, where his lab studies the neurobiology of time encoding in the brain and its relevance for learning using behavioral, electrophysiological, computational, and molecular techniques.