As Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, Giancarlo Bonagura is responsible for leading the administrative team and managing the Institute’s operations, including finance, education and outreach, human resources, and communications. He also oversees the Institute’s scientific services, which include advanced instrumentation, cellular imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, research computing and virology. In addition to working closely with the Institute’s scientific codirectors, Bonagura collaborates with leadership across Columbia’s central administration to support the Institute’s financial, academic, and research goals.
Prior to joining the Institute, Bonagura was chief operating officer of Hunter College in New York, where he was responsible for managing operations of the College and Hunter Campus Schools, including the physical plant, campus security, business operations, and technology. He also oversaw the financial and investment management of the Hunter College Foundation. Prior to his work at Hunter College, Bonagura was the associate dean and chief financial officer at New York University School of Law. He has also served in New York City government, including at the Department of Transportation, where he was deputy commissioner, and at the Office of Management and Budget. Bonagura received his bachelor’s degree in politics and economics from New York University, and a master’s in urban policy and management from the New School University.
Meghan Fay works to drive philanthropic support for the extraordinary people and science at the Zuckerman Institute. Her responsibilities include campaign planning and management, as well as identification, cultivation and stewardship of prospective donors with a range of capacities. She and her team also work in close partnership with the Institute’s executive director, faculty leadership and Columbia’s Office of Alumni and Development on university-wide capital campaigns.
Prior to joining Columbia, Meghan was senior leadership gifts officer at Boston University. She previously served as major gift officer at Lahey Clinic Medical Center and development and alumni officer at Boston University. Meghan has a bachelor’s in journalism from Boston University and an MBA from Northeastern University’s executive MBA program.
Barbara Han is responsible for delivering a comprehensive facility service model to all faculty and staff at the Zuckerman Institute. She and her team serve as direct liaisons between researchers and departments across Columbia University to support a smooth and proficiently operated scientific research facility.
Prior to joining the Institute, Han spent 29 years as the laboratory manager for Zuckerman codirector Thomas Jessell. She has also spent nearly 20 years supervising the construction and renovation of lab spaces within Columbia University Medical Center. She received her bachelor’s in medical laboratory sciences from Hunter College School of Health Sciences and possesses two masters degrees; an MBA from Fordham University’s School of Business and an MPH from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Nancy Hirshan and her team are financially responsible for the Institute and associated faculty members and laboratories. This includes management of the Institute’s annual budget and review of accounts. Her team assists Institute researchers with all grant-related activities, including budget development and administrative requirements, as well as grant post-award activities.
Before joining the Zuckerman Institute, Nancy served in the finance departments at Columbia University Medical Center’s Mailman School of Public Health as well as its Department of Neurology. She previously had roles as the associate controller of Barnard College, director of accounting for the American Stock Exchange and assistant controller for the United States Tennis Association. Nancy received her bachelor’s in accounting from the State University of New York at Buffalo and an MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She is also a CPA in the state of Maryland.
Kelley Remole’s responsibilities lie in two major areas. She is responsible for cultivating the intellectual life of the Institute by working with scientists to develop symposia, seminars and other programming. These efforts promote scientific collaboration with the goal of advancing our understanding of brain science. Dr. Remole also develops a variety of programming that brings the wonders of science to our neighboring community, including lectures, educational programming, internships and community events.
Dr. Remole earned both her bachelor’s degree and her PhD in neuroscience from Columbia University. Prior to joining the Zuckerman Institute, Dr. Remole served as the Sackler Brain Specialist at the American Museum of Natural History, where she designed and taught original lectures and hands-on classes about the brain aimed at general audiences.
As Director of Human Resources, Tania Ronquillo proactively provides strategic and consultative direction on a variety of HR related matters, as well as working closely to support the effective communication, delivery and administration of HR programs. She and her team maintain responsibility for the employment life cycle for all Institute faculty and staff. This includes the management of several areas, such as job creation, recruitment/talent acquisition, onboarding, skills development, benefits administration, employment relations and overall compliance with associated University and government regulations.
With over 15+ years of experience in human resources and not-for profit organizations, Tania Ronquillo has substantial skills in organizational development and leadership. She previously served as Director of Human Resources at the Office of Alumni and Development and held various HR-related roles within the central Finance Division at Columbia University. She received her undergraduate degree in Healthcare Administration from St. John’s University.
The Zuckerman Institute Communications team is dedicated to sharing the extraordinary research and discoveries at the Institute with broad audiences. Amy Weil manages the creation of tailored communications strategies that explore and explain the Institute’s groundbreaking science. Amy and her team work closely with Institute scientists and staff to create written content and multimedia, including videos and infographics, to convey the urgency and excitement of the brain science research at the Institute.
Amy joined Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute from George Soros’s global philanthropy, where she partnered with people and non-profits around the world to promote human rights and social justice. Prior to this, Amy worked at the national headquarters of the American Civil Liberties Union and helped implement national news campaigns to promote racial justice, gay rights, drug policy reform and other civil liberties issues.
Rajendra (Raj) Bose leads the Research Computing team at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute. The mission of Research Computing is to provide the highest quality, leading edge scientific computing and information technology services and support to Zuckerman Institute faculty and research labs. The team procures, configures and manages high-performance storage and computing resources with input from Institute faculty. This infrastructure will allow hundreds of researchers to securely house large collections of scientific data, with the ability to analyze and visualize vasta data sets The group also ensures the smooth technical operation of meeting spaces and other specialized areas within the Jerome L. Greene Science Center.
Previously, Dr. Bose was manager of research computing services for Columbia University Information Technology. He served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the United Kingdom Digital Curation Centre at the University of Edinburgh and a visiting scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia. Dr. Bose received his PhD in the area of environmental and Earth science informatics from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering.
As Director of Cellular Imaging at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, Darcy Peterka offers a combination of both commercial systems and creates collaborative, custom-designed advanced imaging platforms to spur innovative research.
Prior to joining the Zuckerman Institute, Dr. Peterka was Director of Technologies at Columbia’s NeuroTechnology Center, and a research scientist with Rafael Yuste. He spent many years at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, received a PhD in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, and holds a BA in Mathematics from Cornell University.
As Director of Virology, Julia Sable manages the the routine production of state-of-the-art molecular tools that have become essential technology of modern neuroscience. She works with research laboratories across Columbia University and other academic institutions to design and construct new viral vectors for multiple model organisms.
Prior to joining the Zuckerman Institute, Sable was an Associate Research Scientist at Columbia’s NeuroTechnology Center. She has also served as a laboratory manager for Dr. Charles Rice at The Rockefeller University and Dr. Michael P. Sheetz at Columbia University. Sable earned an MEd and MPhil at Columbia University, and a Master’s and Bachelor’s in Biology from Youngstown University.
As Director of Advanced Instrumentation, Tanya Tabachnik’s department creates new technologies that marry imagination and engineering in order to empower scientists to answer fundamental questions about living systems and how the brain works. Her hand-picked team designs and develops solutions that are elegant, efficient and cost-effective. She and her team have built everything from a device that maps the steps of a fruit fly to materials that function inside the brain without harming it. Bringing to life new tools that drive cutting-edge research requires more than clever engineering. Her team's innovations start with the close relationships being built with clients. They have experience translating the needs of researchers and shaping their dreams into workable plans for success.
Tanya comes to the Zuckerman Institute from Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where she led and managed the Mechanical Engineering and Fabrication Department. In that capacity, she and her team designed and customized scientific instruments and tools for neuroscience research. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Engineering from Moscow State Technological University.
John T. "Tommy" Vaughan and his team provide researchers with cutting-edge magnetic resonance imaging tools to observe the anatomy, function and biochemistry of humans and preclinical models. These systems allow Zuckerman Institute researchers to investigate and diagnose the mind and body in health, disease, and therapeutic intervention.
Prior to joining Columbia, Dr. Vaughan served as Professor of Radiology and the Quist-Henline Chair of Biomedical Research at the University of Minnesota. He has also held academic appointments at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he also earned his PhD in Biomedical Engineering. He received his Bachelor’s in both Biology and Electrical Engineering from Auburn University.