people

Ishmail is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University in the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. He is also a Freeman Hrabowski Scholar at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He received a B.S. degree in animal science from North Carolina A&T State University in 2006 and a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, where he was supervised by Prof. Meera Sundaram. He completed postdoctoral training at Weill Cornell, then University of Pennsylvania, supervised by Profs. Ben Shykind and Wenqin Luo. He joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in the Biology Department in 2018 as the Mitchell and Margo Blutt Presidential Assistant Professor. He was recruited to Columbia University in 2021 and promoted to Associate Professor in 2023. Ishmail’s research focuses on bridging the body and brain to discover mechanisms for social touch and pain. In addition to research, each fall semester, Ishmail teaches a large undergraduate lecture course on cell and molecular neurobiology.

Awards and Honors

  • Young Investigator Award, Society for Neuroscience, 2023
  • HHMI Freeman Hrabowski Scholar, 2023
  • McKnight Scholar, 2023
  • NIH New Innovator Award, 2022
  • Chan Zuckerberg Science Diversity Leadership Award, 2022
  • Pew Biomedical Scholar, 2022
  • Brain Research Foundation, 2022
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, 2021
  • Kavli Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, 2021
  • Rita Allen Foundation Scholar, 2020
  • Mitchell Max Award for Research Excellence, 2018
  • NIH Pathway to Independence Award, 2017
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund PDEP Postdoc Fellowship, 2015
  • NIH IRACDA Postdoc Fellowship, 2014
  • Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetics, 2012

curriculum vitae

Q and A interview of Ishmail (Quanta Magazine, 2024)

Q and A interview of Ishmail (Neuron, 2021)

Staff

Aleyna Silcott

Administrative Lab Manager

B.S., Ankara University, Turkey
aab2259 [at] columbia.edu

Postdocs

Sasha Fulton

NIH D-SPAN Fellow
UNCF EE Just Fellow
Burroughs Wellcome Fund PDEP

Ph.D., Mount Sinai Medicine
B.S., Columbia University
slf2127 [at] columbia.edu

Anissa Jhumka

B.S., Ph.D., Aix-Marseille University
aj3020 [at] columbia.edu

Aleksander Kaplan

Ph.D., Hebrew University
B.S., University of Maryland Baltimore Country
ak5200 [at] columbia.edu

Briana Nixon

Ph.D., Cornell University
B.S., Wesleyan University
bn2369 [at] columbia.edu

Andre Toussaint

Simons Junior Fellow
Burroughs Wellcome Fund PDEP 

Ph.D., Temple University
B.S., Hunter College
at3658 [at] columbia.edu

Anastasia Zavitsanou

Simons Junior Fellow
Ph.D., New York University
B.S., Imperial College London
az2764 [at] columbia.edu

Graduate students
*not accepting graduate students for 2024-2025

Brittany Bistis

Biological Sciences PhD student
B.S., Yale University
bb2977 [at] columbia.edu

Justin Burdge

Biological Sciences PhD student
NIH NRSA F31 Fellow

B.S., University of Pennsylvania
jb4582 [at] columbia.edu

William Foster

Neuro & Behavior PhD student
B.S., Haverford College
wf2284 [at] columbia.edu

Rachel Frazer

Neuro & Behavior PhD student
NSF Graduate Research Fellow
B.A., Wellesley College
ref2154 [at] columbia.edu

Simon Ogundare

Rotating MD-PhD student
*joint with Christine Denny
B.S., Columbia University
soo2111 [at] columbia.edu

Ryan Schwark

Biological Sciences PhD student
B.S., Elizabethtown College
rs4192 [at] columbia.edu

Preston Sheng

Biological Sciences PhD student
B.S., Emory University
ss6573 [at] columbia.edu

Isabella Succi

Biological Sciences PhD student
*Joint with Itamar Kahn
B.S., St. Joseph’s University
is2687 [at] columbia.edu

Wesley Yu-Young Tsai

Biological Sciences PhD student
B.S., Johns Hopkins University
yt2882 [at] columbia.edu

Viviana Vinci

Biological Sciences PhD student
B.S., Northeastern University
vv2373 [at] columbia.edu

Research technician

Alexis Knight

B.S., Columbia University
aak2220 [at] columbia.edu

Undergraduate students

Amanda Arnold

ala2214 [at] barnard.edu

Max Comfere

mkc2182 [at] columbia.edu

Ashar Khan

adk2176 [at] columbia.edu

Jake Kothandaraman

kothaj02 [at] nyu.edu

Sofia Marin-Quiros

sam2451 [at] columbia.edu

Simon Toney

sd3525 [at] columbia.edu

Olaedo Udensi

ocu2101 [at] barnard.edu

Leah Yadessa

lay2110 [at] columbia.edu