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.


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


Sarah is a California native who completed a bachelors in Neuroscience at UCLA. She is now studying the encoding of wavelength information in the photoreceptors of the fruit fly. Hobbies include: kickboxing, screen printing and giving her dog belly rubs!

Sarah Heath
Graduate Student
Neurobiology and Behavior Doctoral Program



Jessica is working to understand the cellular and circuit mechanisms that underlie neuromodulation in the Drosophila optic lobe. She received a B.A. in Neuroscience from Bowdoin College and worked as a research assistant at Rockefeller University prior to joining the lab. Originally from Montana, Jessica likes to ping pong, cook and play her cello.

Jessica Kohn
Graduate Student
Neurobiology and Behavior Doctoral Program


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


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



Undergraduate/Maters’s Students

Nick is an undergraduate senior at Columbia College and an honors student in the Department of Neuroscience and Behavior. In the Behnia Lab he is working with Dr. Álvaro Sanz-Diez on reconstructing the connectome of the Drosophila color vision pathway. Outside of lab, he is President of the Columbia Neuroscience Society and the Columbia Psi Chi Honor Society, and enjoys playing piano and trying to cook edible food.

Nick Manfred
Undergraduate Student



Irene is from France (Paris) where she did my undergrad in General Engineering (with a focus on computational methods and data analysis). She is now a Master’s student in Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University where she is specializing in neurosciences. She loves to travel and is passionate about sports, especially riding, sailing, running and hiking!

Irene Margarit
Master’s Student



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

Bragadeesh Aroulmouzhi

Maia Weisenhaus

Shravan Karthik

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

Sami Mollard