Columbia University in the City of New York

Early-career Researchers

Credit: Sirin Samman for Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

The future of neuroscience begins here

At Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, we are committed to fostering the next generation of researchers studying the mind, brain and behavior. We strive to create a training environment to meet the specific needs of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers today. Research talks by and for early-career researchers provide opportunities to communicate science and to find future collaborators. Professional development courses focus on the skills and knowledge that early career researchers need to get them to whatever career stage they target next. Formal and informal opportunities connect graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to faculty around the Institute. In addition to career-stage specific programs, researchers can get insights and hands-on training with the support of scientific platforms and pre-award specialists. To explore interests outside the direct area of research, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers can attend events and programs hosted by our artists-in-residence and find opportunities to connect with wide audiences through the Institute's Public Programs.

These programs complement and extend the training that early-career researchers receive inside the labs. The result is that scientists at all levels of training have access to support and training from within their lab, from their peers around the Institute, and from the Institute programmatic and scientific staff. Early career scientists are supported for success during their time at the Institute and prepared for success after it.

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Curious Minds: A Video Series Highlighting Early-career Researchers

How do Proteins Tangle in the Brain?

A project exploring how proteins turn toxic in the brain brings together Tamta Arakhamia and Christina Lee, two undergraduate students in the Fitzpatrick Lab.

Can You Inherit Stress on Your DNA?

Do the experiences of your father leave a mark on your genes? Can trauma be passed down from generation to generation? Bianca Jones Marlin, PhD, who completed postdoctoral training in the Axel lab, has been combing the DNA of mice to explore these questions, bringing us one step closer to understanding our full genetic inheritance.

Why Do Some Memories Last a Lifetime?

Mentored by Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, Luana Fioriti, PhD, and Lenzie Ford, PhD, team up and discover they have a lot in common. Both want to know how the brain creates memories. Both have a family history of neurological disease.

How Can We See Living Nerve Cells in Action?

Postdoctoral research scientist Wenze Li, PhD of the Hillman lab and graduate student Rebecca Vaadia of the Grueber lab — one an engineer, the other a neuroscientist — recently joined forces to examine how neurons in crawling worms flash and fire.

How Do We Make Everyday Decisions?

Akram Bakkour, PhD, a postdoctoral research scientist in the Shohamy lab, investigates the ways in which our brain incorporates our memories and past experiences into the everyday decision-making process.

How Do Flies See in Color?

New research from graduate students Matthias Christenson and Sarah Heath of the Behnia lab shows that the brains of flies, like the brains of humans, pit different wavelengths of light against each other to create the mental illusion of color.

How Do We Taste Sour?

Postdoctoral Research Scientist Jin Zhang, PhD, of the Zuker lab recently revealed the cells that make sour taste possible and showed that these cells are distinct from those involved in sweet, bitter, salty and umami tastes.

How Do Birds Change Their Tune?

Postdoctoral Research Scientist Jordan Moore, PhD, of the Woolley lab recently discovered a part of the songbird brain critical for learning songs: a step toward understanding how human beings learn language when young.

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