Frontiers of Science

Science Fellows

The Columbia Science Fellows Program

With the creation of Frontiers of Science, a new postdoctoral position was established for young scientists interested in developing their skills in both research and science education. These "Science Fellows" are instrumental in developing new course material. However, Science Fellow positions are not purely teaching appointments. Because one goal of Frontiers of Science is to expose students to the way scientists work and think, Science Fellows actively pursue their own research projects within their department. Yes, being a Science Fellow can certainly make for a busy life, but if you love to teach and don't want to give up research, this may be the perfect position for you!

Currently, there are twelve Science Fellows representing six science Departments at Columbia (Astronomy, Chemistry, DEES**, Biology, E3B*, and Physics). It is expected that roughly three-five of these positions will open each year. If you are interested in becoming a Science Fellow, please follow the job announcement link below for more information and instructions on how to apply.

The 2015 Science Fellow Job Announcement

For more than 80 years, Columbia College has sustained an extensive Core Curriculum, required of all students, which serves as an intensive introduction to the great ideas of Western literature, art, music, and philosophy. In the University’s 250th year, we launched a complementary course in science to be taken by all first-year students.

The course is designed to both introduce students to exciting ideas at the frontiers of science and to inculcate in them scientific habits of mind.

Consistent with the Core tradition, the course features small seminar sections in which topics from throughout the physical and life sciences are discussed. The Science Fellows participate with the faculty in designing and leading these sections.

In addition to individual seminars, Frontiers includes a weekly lecture. Four scientists in different disciplines each deliver a series of three lectures outlining the background, context, and current state of an area of research. Lecturers work with fellows to develop readings and other activities that supplement the lectures and provide material for the seminars.

Applicants will be affiliated with one of the Columbia science departments, which include Astronomy, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Physics, Psychology, and Statistics. Positions are available, subject to funding, for the Academic Year 2015/2016.

Fellows attend both the weekly lectures for the course and the pedagogical seminar that follows. During the two thirteen-week semesters, each fellow leads two 110 min. seminars for roughly 20 students each week. Seminars discuss the lecture and reading assignments. Fellows spend their remaining time pursuing research either with an established Columbia group or independently.

As not all laboratories will have openings this year, applicants are encouraged to consult web pages of the department or departments relevant to their discipline, and to contact specific faculty members or research groups with which they would like to be associated. The program will appoint a number of post-doctoral fellows in the natural sciences for the academic year 2015-2016. We invite applications from qualified candidates who have received or will expect to receive the Ph.D. between1 January 2011 and 30 June 2015. Columbia Science Fellows hold the rank of Lecturer in Discipline in an appropriate natural science department.The fellowship is renewable for a second and third year based on satisfactory performance

Applications should include the following:

1) CV and Cover letter,
2) Statement of Research - by this we mean 2-3 page summary of research accomplishments to date and statement of future plans,
3) 1-2 page statement of teaching philosophy and experience, and
4) three letters of recommendation. All materials must be received by the application deadline: December 15, 2014.

To apply, please visit our online site:

Applications will be evaluated by faculty specialists and an interdisciplinary committee; research should be presented appropriately.

For more information on the program please contact Elina Yuffa or 212-854-4690
Deadline for applications is December 15, 2014.

Columbia University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

Current Science Fellows

Imre Bartos Physics Studies black hole formation through the gravitational collapse of massive stars and the resulting spectacular explosions, as well as the coalescence of black hole and neutron star binaries. He also works on the biological applications of optics, ranging from malaria control in sub-Saharan Africa to genetics.
Katherine Brooks E3B* Investigating the evolution of social behavior in snapping shrimp.
Amber Carr Chemistry Research focuses on simulation studies of self-assembling nanoscale systems.
Taffeta Elliott Biology Interested in how the brain discerns the complex sound properties of language. Research involves making complete acoustic description of the 5 percepts that give sound color (timbre) to the western orchestra, using computational methods that numerically represent perceptual patterns in sound.
Rachel Kennedy-Smith Psychology Investigating the normal and pathological function of mast cells in the brain
Alex Lloyd DEES* Worked on the measurement of water in magmas and minerals and their application as chronometers for magma ascent during the explosive eruption of Volcán de Fuego in 1974. He currently continues his research on the timescales of igneous processes during explosive eruptions.
Paolomi Merchant Chemistry Developing fluorescent molecules to visualize various aspects of neurotransmission. She is interested in the development of small molecules and imaging techniques for use in the treatment and monitoring of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Shaena Montanari E3B* Currently researches molecular and dietary ecology of large carnivores
Eric Raymer Physics Reasearch focuses on modeling the behavior of a newly discovered sub-class of binaries called Supergiant Fast X-ray Transients, in which X-ray flares are produced by a neutron star as it accretes material from its companion's stellar wind.
Mónica Rouco-Molina DEES* Research is focused on microbial oceanography
Abigail Sporer Biology Current research focuses on the regulation of pigment, antibiotic, and signaling molecule production in the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and several other species of non-pathogenic soil bacteria
Helena Uthas Astronomy Research is focused on late evolution of close binary star systems.

*E3B - Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology
**DEES - Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Past Science Fellow Experience - An Article by Robin McGary Herrnstein