Columbia University in the City of New York

This Former Journalist Unravels DNA

Meet Graduate Student Albana Kodra, Neurobiology and Behavior Program

Albana Kodra considers DNA to be a living piece of origami. A graduate student from Italy, she’s been fascinated by how it folds, forming a dense but organized tangle in the nucleus at the center of cells, ever since neuroscientist Stavros Lomvardas introduced her to the subject when she was an undergraduate. The imaging she is doing in the Lomvardas lab could reveal how DNA’s shape influences the development and activity of cells in the brain, in health and sickness. She recently implicated DNA architecture in the loss of smell experienced by many people with COVID. The photos here, taken by Thomas Barlow, are part of an ongoing photo essay series that documents the lives of neuroscience graduate students in this lab: A Portrait of the Scientist.




A freezer colder than Antarctica for storing samples


A sonicator that slices DNA with sound


Fluorescent dyes that illuminate DNA


Like dots of ink, many individual points that come together to form a super-resolution image of DNA


Kodra in the lab

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