Major Advising

Choosing a Major Advisor in Biology

For your first two years at Barnard, you will work with the faculty advisor who was assigned to you the summer before your first year. This advisor, along with your class dean, will help you find the information you need to make numerous choices each semester and to think about those choices in light of your short-term and long-term goals. These first two years are the time for you to explore our curriculum and research opportunities in addition to meeting current majors, faculty, and staff so that you can determine whether one of our four major track options is right for you.

When you declare a Biology major toward the end of your sophomore year, you will choose a faculty advisor who will guide you through the remainder of your time at Barnard and assist you as you choose the advanced coursework in our department. Students who choose to double major will have two major advisors, one in each field. In our department, students directly contact a faculty member whose research interests (in the table below) are most in-line with their own to ask whether they are accepting new advisees. A faculty member may not be accepting new advisees if, for example, they are taking a sabbatical leave the following semester. A student’s choice must then be approved and their major declaration form signed by the Associate Chair using the Slate platform. Once a student declares their major, they will be contacted by the department administrator to ensure that the student is placed on the departmental listserv in the event that they have not yet requested this.

Meet the Advisors in Biology!

Altschul Hall | 9th Floor (Introductory Biology Labs)

Professor Jessica Goldstein

Jessica Goldstein
Senior Lecturer | 212.854.5298
904 Altschul Hall

I am currently taking new advisees!

Hometown: I was born in the Bronx and grew up in a few different suburbs of NYC (in Westchester) and Connecticut
Undergraduate Major: Biology with Chemistry and Psychology minors at Macalester College
PhD: Cell biology and developmental genetics, characterizing genes involved in cell fate decisions in the small nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans at Washington University in St. Louis
Favorite Departmental Event: I look forward to Professor Snow's annual honey extraction and love any excuse to gather on the Diana Center Green Roof!
Favorite Podcasts: I love listening to podcasts. My current favorites are Ologies by Alie Ward and Invisibilia on NPR.
Favorite Hobbies: When I am not in Altschul, you can find me chasing after my two young (and very energetic!) boys, hiking, or jogging.
Additional Information: I am the Director of the Introductory Biology Labs at Barnard and the Co-Director of the Sibyl-Levy Golden ('38) Ecological Learning Center with Professor Terryanne Maenza-Gmelch in Environmental Science. I am also part of the Biology Department's Anti-Racism Working Group.

Altschul Hall | 10th Floor

Professor Hilary Callahan

Hilary Callahan
Professor, Chair | 212.854.5405
1007 Altschul Hall

I am currently taking new advisees!

Hometown: Ayer, MA, a semi-rural Army town
Undergraduate Major: Biology, the track in environmental biology at Yale University
PhD: I earned my PhD in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also did my postdoctoral work in a Botany Department
Research Interests: We generally focus on plant reproduction, especially the timing of reproduction. We often work with Arabidopsis thaliana, a model species for genomics and a weedy, temperate annual. Agricultural thinking helps contextualize many of our efforts.
Favorite Departmental Event: Darwin Day (Feb 12th)
Favorite Hobbies: I enjoy moving, athletically or otherwise, by hiking, biking, running, or ideally, getting on the water to row or kayak.
Favorite Musical Artists: Some of my favorite bands are Wussy, Yo La Tengo, Mekons, Prince, and Lucinda Williams. I also adore opera, especially the lyric tenors Lawrence Brownlee and Javier Camarena
Must-go-to-spot in NYC: My 1901 house and my neighbors' equally old houses on Terrace View Avenue in Marble Hill, a place magically on the mainland and part of Manhattan, but really the Bronx. I regularly go to Van Cortlandt and Inwood Hill Parks, and to our farmer's market—one of NYC's best.
Additional Information: I'm a botanist and ecologist who loves both local temperate forests and life in New York City. My personal interests are as eclectic as my academic efforts are interdisciplinary. I try to engage politically with my neighborhood, city, state, country, and world. I am the Faculty Director of the Arthur Ross Greenhouse and serve as President of Black Rock Forest, a non-profit with the mission of research, environmental teaching, and nature conservation. I am part of Columbia's Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (E3B). Over the years, I've helped originate Barnard's Noyce Teacher Scholars Program, the Research Apprenticeship Program, the Beckman Scholars Program, the Science Pathways Scholars Program (SP)2, and the Speaking Fellows. I am an "academic first gen" professor who grew up in a large Catholic family, learning many lessons from my four grandparents who never finished high school, my dad who worked multiple jobs, and my mom who attended college while raising me.

Professor Allison Lopatkin

Allison Lopatkin
Assistant Professor | 212.853.2564
1014 Altschul Hall

I am currently taking new advisees!

Undergraduate Major: Applied Mathematics with a pre-medical focus at the University of Rochester
PhD: Biomedical Engineering, focused on antibiotic resistance and horizontal gene transfer at Duke University
Research Interests: In the Lopatkin Lab, we study horizontal gene transfer and bacterial metabolism in the context of antibiotic resistance, using both in vitro and in silico approaches.
Favorite Hobbies: I love going on long runs, mountain hikes, and backpacking trips!
Additional Information: I'm a passionate advocate of all women in higher STEM education.

Professor Jonathan Snow

Jonathan Snow
Associate Professor | 212.854.2084
1006 Altschul Hall

I am currently taking new advisees!

Hometown: Nashville, TN
Undergraduate Major: Biology at Williams College
PhD: My graduate work at the University of California, San Francisco and postgraduate work at Harvard Medical School focused on signal transduction, regulation of gene expression, and organismal stress responses in the blood development of mammals.
Research Interests: In the Snow Lab, we study cellular stress responses and infectious disease in honey bees.
Favorite Departmental Event: The annual honey extraction, of course!
Favorite Hobbies: Running and snowboarding
Must-go-to-spot in NYC: Central Park
Additional Information: I am the Biology departmental representative for the Summer Research Institute (SRI) and was a part of the Hughes Science Pipeline Project.

Altschul Hall | 11th Floor

Professor Elizabeth Bauer

Elizabeth Bauer
Associate Professor | 212.854.2349
1113A Altschul Hall

I am currently taking new advisees!

Hometown: Larchmont, NY
Undergraduate Major: Neuroscience at Amherst College
PhD: Neural Science at New York University
Research Interests: My lab studies the interactions of several brain structures involved in aversive learning. These include the amygdala, the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), and the ventral subiculum. We are currently determining which neural circuits are active when an animal is in an aversive vs. safe vs. novel environment, and whether these interactions are different in males and females.
Favorite Hobbies: Playing tennis, playing the piano, and playing board games with my kids (not all at the same time!)
Must-go-to-spot in NYC: The Conservatory Garden in Central Park
Additional Information: I am also a faculty member in the Department of Neuroscience at Barnard. I am an advisor in both the Biology and Neuroscience Departments for summer research projects during the Summer Research Institute (SRI) as well as am a Neuroscience mentor in the Science Pathways Scholars Program (SP)2.

Professor John Glendinning

John Glendinning
Professor, Associate Chair | 212.854.4749
1107 Altschul Hall

I am NOT currently taking new advisees!

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Undergraduate Major: Natural Science at Hampshire College
PhD: I studied the predators of Monarch butterflies at their overwintering sites in Mexico at the University of Florida
Research Interests: We study the chemical senses, ingestive behavior, food likes and dislikes. We are exploring how the sense of taste mediates behavioral and metabolic responses to sweeteners, complex carbohydrates, and alcohol. We also study how pre- and post-natal experience with foods can make them taste better (or worse).
Favorite Departmental Event: The annual honey extraction, as it combines hard work and sweet taste
Favorite Hobbies: I like to hike and play tennis
Additional Information: I mentor research students in the Biology and Neuroscience Departments, both during the academic year and the summer (as part of the Summer Research Institute (SRI)). I am also Director of the Science Pathways Scholars Program (SP)2 and mentor students in this program.

Altschul Hall | 12th Floor

Professor Jennifer Mansfield

Jennifer Mansfield
Professor | 212.854.4381
1205 Altschul Hall

I am currently taking new advisees!

Hometown: I grew up in Maine
Undergraduate Major: Biology with minors in Chemistry and English at Oberlin College
PhD: I studied embryonic development in animals, using the fruit fly model organism at Columbia University. My thesis research focused on molecular genetic mechanisms that set up the head-to-tail body axis.
Research Interests: I still study how pattern and body form is generated in animals, now in vertebrates. My lab works on Hox transcription factors, and we want to understand how they act within a cascade of gene expression that happens during early development. This cascade sets up the whole body plan as well as the structure of individual organs and tissues.
Favorite Departmental Event: The Annual Research Symposium! It's a fantastic opportunity to hear from students about the research they are doing and always a celebration of Barnard science.
Favorite Podcast: The Moth
Favorite Hobbies: I unwind with music, books, TV, and exploring New York.

Professor Brian Morton

Brian Morton
Professor | 212.854.5454
1204 Altschul Hall

I am currently taking new advisees!

Hometown: Hamilton in Ontario, Canada
Undergraduate Major: Molecular Biology and Genetics and a minor in Anthropology at the University of Toronto
PhD: University of California, Riverside
Research Interests: We study the factors that affect mutation dynamics and contribute to mutation variation across and within genomes. We are also studying the evolution of genome structure in addition to starting to work on the evolution of gene regulatory networks.
Favorite Books & TV Show: Most recently, the (somewhat) new Rachel Cusk trilogy and the Baroness von Sketch Show
Favorite Hobbies: Photography
Additional Information: I am also the Co-Directory of the Science and Public Policy Minor at Barnard

Altschul Hall | 13th Floor

Professor JJ Miranda

JJ Miranda
Assistant Professor | 212.854.6770
1305 Altschul Hall

I am NOT currently taking new advisees!

Hometown: Iloilo City, Philippines
Undergraduate Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Reed College
PhD: Biochemistry at Harvard University
Research Interests: In the Miranda Lab, we study viral gene regulation during cancer, and most recently, we are studying SARS-CoV-2 epidemiology
Additional Information: I identify with immigrants—we get the job done.

Professor Alison Pischedda

Alison Pischedda
Assistant Professor | 212.854.9865
1306 Altschul Hall

I am NOT currently taking new advisees.

Undergraduate Major: Biology and Mathematics at Queen's University
PhD: Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara
Research Interests: In the Pischedda Lab, we study sexual selection and sexual conflict in fruit flies.
Favorite Departmental Event: The Annual Research Symposium!
Additional Information: I am Canadian and I was a first-generation college student! I completed my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Canada and then came to the US as an international student for my PhD.

Professor Rishita Shah

Rishita Shah
Lecturer | 212.853.0790
1309 Altschul Hall

I am NOT currently taking new advisees.

Hometown: Austin, TX
Undergraduate Major: Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas at Austin
PhD: Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania
Favorite Departmental Event: The annual honey extraction!
Must-go-to-spot in NYC: The Met
Additional Information: I don't have a lab at Barnard, but my research interests are in stem cells and regeneration, especially in the zebrafish model system.

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Below you will find documents that will guide you through our course listing options for majors each semester and help ensure that you are on track to complete your chosen major track. General questions can also be directed to the department administrator, Melissa Flores ( Be sure to check our Course Listings FAQ and Major Requirements FAQ for the most commonly asked advising questions.

Advising Documents

Senior Majors' Checklists

Due by the end of the program planning period of the semester you are graduating, the following checklists will guide you in ensuring that you have satisfied all Biology major/minor requirements.

General Biology Majors' Checklist
Cellular & Molecular Majors' Checklist
Physiological & Organismal Majors' Checklist
Ecological & Evolutionary Majors' Checklist
Biology Minor Checklist

Submit the completed checklist to Melissa Flores ( either electronically or in person to the 12th floor office (1203 Altschul). The completed checklists will be shared with the Chair for a major's degree audit.

For the summer 2021 semester, checklists are due by midnight on Monday, March 15th.

Students on the second floor of Milstein chatting and students going up stairs

Navigating the Major

Program Planning gives students an opportunity to meet with faculty to ask questions regarding the upcoming semester's courses in addition to any general questions about the major, minor, and undergraduate research. The Program Planning Packet below sums up major and minor requirements, and outlines how research can be used to fulfill the major. 

Additionally, for a visual summary to help you navigate the various major tracks, the following interactive PowerPoints were designed to summarize the course offerings that fulfill major requirements (a preview is available below).

Program Planning (Spring 2022)

Navigating the Major: Computational Biology

Navigating the Major: General, Cellular & Molecular, Physiological & Organismal, and Ecological & Evolutionary Biology

Questions about courses? Contact the department administrator, Melissa Flores (

Navigating the Computational Biology Track

Navigating the General, C&M, P&O, and E&E Tracks