Teaching and Outreach

Teaching Opportunities

While there is no formal teaching requirement for PhD students, several opportunities are available for teaching at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate level. TA opportunities are not listed below; students interested in TAing should contact course instructors directly. A more extensive list of opportunities, along with perspectives of past participants, is maintained for students on our internal website.

Current students, mainly rising second-years, run a "Boot Camp" at the end of August before the fall semester, for the incoming class. The purpose of boot camp is to familiarize incoming students with techniques used in neuroscience research. This is done through lectures and laboratory demonstrations. Topics include basic methods in microscopy, biochemistry, electrophysiology, genetics, computational neuroscience, behavior, imaging, anatomy, and cell culture. Faculty, postdocs and students lecture and participate in lab demonstrations.

Students in their third or fourth year of graduate study are teaching assistants in the undergraduate neuroscience course in fall or spring semester, and have the opportunity to lecture in these courses: Neurobiology I: Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, Biology W4004x, Neurobiology II: Developmental and Systems Neurobiology, Biology W4005y.

The Columbia University Science Honors Program (SHP) is a Saturday morning program specifically designed for high school students in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. Classes are held on the Columbia University Morningside Campus during the entire academic year from September through May. Graduate students and postdocs may propose and lecture on course topics in math, engineering, physics, chemistry, and biology/neuroscience.


Outreach Activities

Columbia University Neuroscience Outreach (CUNO)

Austen Sitko

CUNO is a graduate student run organization seeking to foster a lifelong interest in the brain and science among NYC grade school students. Our members include scientists at all levels of training: grad students, post-docs, research assistants, and some undergraduates. CUNO believes that bringing science to children results in a rich experience that enhances the communication ability of future scientists and improves the scientific literacy of future citizens.

CUNO began in 2005, in the spirit of the Dana Alliance’s Brain Awareness Week. Since then, CUNO has expanded to include over 40 volunteers, 20 partner schools, and three main initiatives: K-12 classroom visits, extended 7-week partnerships with middle school classes, and co-hosting the NYC Regional Brain Bee. Efforts are focused on schools surrounding the Columbia campuses, especially those with limited science education resources.

CUNO also holds curriculum and teaching workshops with volunteers and teachers with whom they have partnered. Through these activities, student participants are able to hone their abilities to communicate science to audiences outside of the research community, an important skill for a successful career in science.

In 2011, CUNO became a Lending Library Partner with the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and was nationally recognized when three founding members were honored by the Society for Neuroscience with the Next Generation Award. A growing list of sponsors and supporters enable their continued growth and expansion. More information on CUNO, its sponsors, and current events can be found online at columbiabrains.org.

Brain Research Apprenticeships In New York At Columbia program places high school students with an interest in science in neuroscience labs during the summer. Students are enrolled in the program in January, undergo weekend training during the academic year, and are placed in labs for five weeks in the summer. NB&B students can volunteer to mentor a student over the summer with their PI's consent and approval. The participating lab receives financial support. The program is run by the Zuckerman Institute with support from the Pinkerton Foundation. For more information on this program, contact Zuckerman Institute Director of Neuroscience Outreach, Kelley Remole.

Started by members of the Neuroscience department, NeuWrite’s mission is to develop novel approaches for communicating science to the public in compelling and scientifically accurate ways. The group serves as a creative and a scientific resource for members pursuing their own projects, and as a forum for collaborative work. Members include scientists, writers, and those in between: graduate, postdoctoral and faculty researchers, fiction and nonfiction writers, filmmakers, radio producers, artists, doctors, and journalists.

Over the long term Neuwrite seeks to promote the involvement of scientists in media coverage of their fields, and to advocate for a new standard for scientific coverage at leading publications. This implies not only transforming the cultures of the science and journalism communities, but also adding the necessary incentives to reward outreach by professional scientists.

As the group has grown into two in New York, it has inspired similar endeavors in other cities including Boston and Stanford.

More information on projects and membership can be found at neuwrite.org.

Kelley Remole, Director of Neuroscience Outreach

Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute
The Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute is an interdisciplinary research institute established to bring together researchers from diverse areas focused on questions of brain and behavior. The institute, to be housed in the Jerome L. Greene Science Center under construction in the Manhattanville campus, contains a significant public-facing aim to engage and inform the public about new advances in brain science. Programs such as BRAINYAC as well as others in the pipeline. Contact Kelley Remole, Director of Neuroscience Outreach, for more information.


Outreach Opportunities Beyond Columbia

AfterSchool STEM Mentoring Program
New York Academy of Sciences runs multiple education programs for science students which draw from the expertise of scientists. The Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program focuses on underserved 4th-8th grade students in New York  City.  Graduate students and postdocs can apply to NYAS to be a fellow in the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program.  Once accepted, fellows are provided with training and curriculum materials (which they may adapt, with supervision), and matched with an afterschool program to meet with once a week for a semester.  Fellows receive official NYAS Teaching Credential upon completion of a semester of teaching.  For information on how to apply to the program, visit the New York Aacademy of Sciences (NYAS) STEM Mentoring Fellowship Program website. Information on other programs, such as the NeXXT Scholars Program can be found on the New York Aacademy of Sciences (NYAS) education website.

Greater New York City Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience
The GNYC Chapter of SfN hosts and supports outreach events for Brain Awareness Week. Subscribe to Greater New York City SfN Chapter registration newsletter to be updated about events. The GNYC Chapter was awarded SfN Chapter of the Year in 2013.