Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger announced Dec. 17 that Mortimer B. Zuckerman has pledged $200 million to endow a Mind Brain Behavior Institute to support interdisciplinary neuroscience research and discovery by scholars across the University. Later that morning, Zuckerman and Bollinger attended a university forum featuring the Institute’s founding co-directors, Thomas Jessell and Nobel laureates Richard Axel and Eric Kandel, to discuss plans for the Institute.

In suburban Clifton, New Jersey, a massive basalt flow (black rock, left) from the time of the End Triassic Extinction lies exposed in a former rock quarry, now behind a retirement home. A thin layer of sedimentary rock mostly covered in debris, at far right, records the sudden disappearance of many creatures. CLICK TO SEE VIDEO OF DRILLING IN NEW JERSEY. (Paul Olsen/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)

Scientists examining evidence across the world from New Jersey to North Africa say they have linked the abrupt disappearance of half of earth’s species 200 million years ago to a precisely dated set of gigantic volcanic eruptions. The eruptions may have caused climate changes so sudden that many creatures were unable to adapt—possibly on a pace similar to that of human-influenced climate warming today.

Sarah Woolley Neuroscientist Studies Songbirds

Anita Burgos stands inside an enclosure with zebra finches in Sarah Woolley's lab during the summer of 2009. Photo by Eileen Barroso

Every animal has its own specializations—hawks can spot their prey a mile away. Human beings, among other things, have the rare capacity to appreciate language and music.

That specialty was on display last month, when Sarah Woolley, a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology, recruited her friend, singer/songwriter Jill Sobule, to join her for an evening of science and singing at Craft’s private dining room.

(Not April 1)—Columbia University officials today denied press reports claiming that campus dining halls were running rivers of nut-brown ink to the tune of $5,000 per week in allegedly pilfered Nutella.

Columbia further denied that the Comp Lit department was joining with the University's Nobel Prize winning neuroscientists in an NSF-funded interdisciplinary study of the Proustian impact of Nutella on human memory.

Just a few years after Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition to the great Northwest, another intrepid American set out on a journey through challenging terrain at the government’s behest. In 1808, John Randel Jr., a young surveyor, was charged with mapping Manhattan Island and laying out the street grid that, for 200 years, has shaped and spurred the growth of New York City.

Dorian Warren
Associate Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs

Then-Senator Barack Obama at the ServiceNation Presidential Candidates Forum, held on Sept. 11, 2008. Image credit: Eileen Barroso/Columbia University.


Sharyn O’Halloran
George Blumenthal Professor and Professor of International and Public Affairs

Graduate students Kelly Remole (left), Heather McKellar, and Cate Jensen (not pictured) developed Columbia University Neuroscience Outreach to introduce New York City schoolchildren to brain science.

Kelley Remole’11, PhD, still has fond memories of the day a local scientist visited her middle school classroom. “It was the first time I had a met a scientist and I thought it was really cool. I was already interested in science, but I would say she made the idea of science as a profession more real in my head.”

When Kenneth T. Jackson began teaching his course, "The History of the City of New York," 37 years ago, he decided to take his students out of the classroom to grasp the full impact of the urban environment. He first thought of daylight walking tours, but the streets were too crowded. So he settled on a nighttime bike ride with 10 to 15 students, the better to see New York in all its glory.



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