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





Undergraduate Students



Jackson Welles
Undergraduate, Assistant Instrument Design & Fabrication





Research Technician




Maia Weisenhaus                        Research Staff Assistant






Lab Manager




Melba Colón                                Laboratory Manager









The Behnia Lab early 2017



Former members

Jeremy Chang – accepted into the Princeton Neuroscience Institute Ph.D. Program