The Department of Biological Sciences was formed in 1966 through the merger of two previous departments, Zoology and Botany. The Zoology Department had a very distinguished history. Thomas Hunt Morgan, Edmund Beecher Wilson, and Theodosius Dobzhansky, extraordinary pioneers in genetics, cell biology, and developmental biology, respectively, were leading faculty who did their seminal work at Columbia from the 1900s to the 1940s. Cyrus Levinthal was recruited from MIT in 1968 with a mission to further build up biology at Columbia. The initial focus for the Department was on molecular biology and neurobiology, two areas that remain at the forefront of modern biology. The Department expanded into additional research areas over the past two decades, such as developmental biology, cell biology, structural biology, biophysics, chemical biology, and computational biology. Our faculty members have received many honors and awards, an indication of the strength of the Department. We count among our faculty two Nobel Laureates (Chalfie, Frank), a Benjamin Franklin Medalist (Frank), six members of both the National Academy of Sciences and American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Chalfie, Frank, Greenwald, Manley, Prives, Przeworksi), two National Academy of Medicine members (Chalfie, Prives), two NIH Director’s Pioneer Award winners (Pe’er ,Yuste), and three Guggenheim Fellowship winners (Bussemaker, Firestein, Pollack). [read more]
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The Department of Biological Sciences has students, faculty, postdoctoral scientists, research personnel, and staff from all over the world. Department members come from diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, sexual, gender, ability, religious and cultural backgrounds. Building on the strength of a diverse community at Columbia University and in New York City, we value and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our department through community, dialog, mentoring, and affinity groups. Department members interact in common and supportive meeting places, both physical and virtual, discuss common intellectual and personal experiences, collaborate across scientific disciplines, and actively foster an overarching environment of mutual respect and cultural understanding.