Rudy Behnia
Principal Investigator

Dr. Rudy Behnia did her undergraduate at Ecole Normal Supérieure in Paris (France). She obtained her Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Cambridge University (UK). She then joined the laboratory of Dr. Claude Desplan at New York University for her post-doctoral training. In 2015, Dr. Behnia was hired as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University. She is a member of the Zuckerman Mind, Brain, Behavior Institute as well as the Kavli Institute for Brain Science. In her spare time she likes to draw, make pottery, spend time with her family and travel!


Alvaro has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Complutense University, Madrid – a Master’s degree in Neuroscience from Pierre et Marie Curie University, Paris. He obtained his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Strasbourg University (France) in 2017. In the Behnia Lab, he is studying the physiology of color vision pathways in the Drosophila brain. He also likes art, exploring new places/cultures and growing all kind of plants!

Álvaro Sanz-Diez
Postdoctoral Researcher


Graduate Students


Matthias (aka Gucky [’ɡʊki]) has his bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from University College London, and is currently working on his PhD in the Behnia and Abbott lab. He is studying the computations underlying color vision in the fruit fly optic lobe, as well as working on general methods to better probe chromatic responses of neurons. Gucky likes to ski, hike, play the piano and sing, and build Python applications.

Matthias Christenson
Graduate Student
Neurobiology and Behavior Doctoral Program



Jacob is interested in computational theories of motion detection and drosophila vision. He is also part of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience, and is co-advised by Larry Abbott. He received a B.S. in Physics and a B.A . in philosophy from Stanford. His new post-covid hobby is birdwatching in Central Park.

Jacob Portes
Graduate Student
Neurobiology and Behavior Doctoral Program


Andrew holds a B.A. in Astrophysics and Economics from Columbia University in 2016 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Physics. He is interested in understanding the circuit mechanisms behind multisensory learning in Drosophila. Outside of lab, Andrew likes to read Albert Camus, hike in Catskills and play Bach on the violin (not all at the same time).

Andrew Po Fung Liu
Graduate Student
Physics Program


Sharon is interested in understanding the role spectral information plays in Drosophila navigation and its underlying computations. They received a B.S. in Computational Neuroscience from UC Santa Barbara. Outside of lab, they enjoy writing music, playing the bass, and building analog synthesizers.

Sharon Su
Graduate Student
Neurobiology and Behavior Doctoral Program

Ishani graduated from Caltech with a degree in Computation and Neural Systems and is now pursuing a PhD in the Behnia and Litwin-Kumar labs. She is interested in building computational models to understand multisensory learning in the Drosophila mushroom body. When she’s not working on her research, Ishani can be found listening to new music and podcasts, catching up with friends, or exploring local restaurants, museums, and coffee shops.

Ishani Ganguly
Graduate Student
Neurobiology and Behavior Doctoral Program


Research Technician


Navid holds a B.S. in Integrative Neuroscience from Fordham University. He previously worked on mouse mesoscale neocortical dynamics at the NYU Neuroscience Institute.

                         Seyed Navid Mousavi                    Research Staff Assistant



Atsuko received a B.S and an M.S in Biochemistry and Biophysics from University of Tokyo, She previously was Research Specialist for Struhl lab at Columbia Univ. and for Steller and Maimon labs at the Rockefeller Univ., where she contributed with Drosophila microinjection, genetics and confocal microscopy. She joined Behnia lab as well as Mann lab in 2021 and is currently interested in studying anatomical connection of neurons with EM data. She loves ballet since infant.
Senior Staff Associate


Lab Manager


Rhythm has a Master’s degree in Biotechnology from NYU. She worked as a Lab Manager and Research Staff Assistant at the Maniatis lab prior to joining the lab.

                                Rhythm Sharma                               Laboratory Manager




Former members

Jessica Kohn

Sarah Heath – Consultant – McKinsey & Company

Nick Manfred – Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology

Irene Margarit – M.S. Student at Columbia University

Maia Weisenhaus – Lab Technician at the MCA Center for Infectious Diseases and Virology at USC

Shravan Karthik – Embedded Systems Engineer – Apple 

Melba Colon – Laboratory Manager – Salzman Lab

Jeremy Chang – Graduate student  Princeton Neuroscience Institute Ph.D. Program

Jackson Welles

Tommy Lam – Graduate student at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Elie Oriol – Graduate student at Laboratoire de Physique de l’Ecole normale supérieure

Jean Fatien

Michael Sander – Graduate student at ENS Paris

Sami Mollard – Graduate student at Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience