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 Christenson
Graduate Student
Neurobiology and Behavior Doctoral Program








Jacob Portes
Graduate Student
Neurobiology and Behavior Doctoral Program





Research Technician


Maia was raised in Seattle, Stockholm and Brooklyn, and studied biology and photography at Bard College before joining the Behnia Lab. Her research projects explore how cells downstream of photoreceptors encode visual information, particularly at the level of the medulla and mushroom body. She also takes classes at Columbia’s School of Professional Studies, teaches science outreach workshops, and enjoys all kinds of sports.

                               Maia Weisenhaus                        Research Staff Assistant



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




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



Shravan is a Masters student at Columbia University majoring in Computer Science. Prior to joining Columbia he was a Software Engineer at Texas Instruments working on automotive processors.

Shravan Karthik
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

Melba Colon – Laboratory Manager – Salzman Lab

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

Jackson Welles

Tommy Lam

Elie Oriol

Jean Fatien

Michael Sander

Sami Mollard