Ishmail is the third generation in his family to graduate from an HBCU, attending North Carolina A&T University for undergraduate. After college, Ishmail received a doctorate in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. After two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Weill Cornell , he returned to the University of Pennsylvania, where he continued postdoctoral training and in 2018 he joined the faculty as an assistant professor of biology. In 2021, he was recruited to Columbia University, where he is currently an assistant professor of biological sciences in the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

Select Honors and Awards curriculum vitae

  • NIH DP2 New Innovator Award (2022)
  • Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Science Diversity Leadership Award (2022)
  • Vanderbilt Basic Sciences Juneteeth Award for Mentor of the Year (2022)
  • Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences  (2022)
  • Brain Research Foundation Seed Grant (2022)
  • Columbia University Provost Grant for Junior Faculty (2022)
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow (2021)
  • Kavli Fellow, National Academy of Sciences (2021)
  • Rita Allen Foundation Scholar (2020)
  • NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award (2017)
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund PDEP Fellow (2015)


In the lab with Ishmail Abdus-Saboor (YouTube) (2022)
“Behind the CV Interview” with Penn’s MindCore (YouTube) (2021)
Q and A Feature Interview for Neuron (2021)

abdus-saboor lab members

Andrea Subotic

Admin Lab Manager
(2021 – present )
B.S., UC Berkeley
M.A., Cal State University
as5515 [at]

Anissa Jhumka, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
(2021 – present )
B.S., Ph.D., Aix-Marseille University, France
aj3020 [at]

Andre Toussaint, Ph.D.

Simons Junior Fellow
Burroughs Wellcome Fund PDEP Postdoctoral Fellow
(2022 –  present)
Ph.D., Temple University
at3658 [at]

Anastasia Zavitsanou, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
(2022 – present )
Ph.D., New York University (NYU)
az2764 [at]

Brittany Bistis

Biological Sciences PhD student
(2022 – present)
B.A., Yale University
bb2977 [at]

Justin Burdge

Biological Sciences PhD student
(2020 – present)
B.S., University of Pennsylvania
jb4582 [at]

Rachel Frazer

NSF Graduate Research Fellow
SFN Neuroscience Scholar

Neuro & Behavior PhD student
(2021 – present)
B.A., Wellesley College
ref2154 [at]

Ryan Schwark

Biological Sciences PhD student
(2020 – present)
B.S., Elizabethtown College
rs4192 [at]

Victoria Saltz

(2022 – present)
B.A., Williams College
tsaltz83 [at]

Phalaen Chang

(2021 – present)
pc2908 [at]

Abednego Delinois

(2022 – present)
jad2321 [at]

Jonathan Ettricks Jr.

(2022 – present)
jce2132 [at]

Alexis Knight

(2022 – present)
aak2220 [at]

Alexis Imani Marshall

(2021 – present)
aim2141 [at]

Wadzanayi Mayiseni

(2021 – present)
wmm2129 [at]

Sarah Sørensen Ogata

(2022 – present)
sas2451 [at]

Simon Ogundare

(2022 – present)
soo2111 [at]


Heather Rossi, Ph.D.

Research Associate, 2018 – 2021
B.S., UNC Ashville
Ph.D., University of Florida
Next: Research Associate in the Herbert lab @UPenn

Leah Middleton Elias

NIH NRSA F31 Fellow
PhD Student, 2018 – 2022
B.A., Mount Holyoke College
Next: Postdoc @ Johns Hopkins

Melanie Schaffler

NIH NRSA F31 Fellow
PhD Student, 2018 – 2022
B.A., Wesleyan University
Next: Teva Pharmaceuticals

Jared Boyce

Technician (2021 – 2022)
A.B., Dartmouth College
Next: MD-PhD student @ UWisconsin-Madison

William Foster

Technician, 2018 – 2021
B.A., Haverford College
Next: PhD student @ Columbia U

Isabella Succi

Technician (2020 – 2022)
B.S., St. Joseph’s University
Next: PhD student @ Columbia U

Jessica Jones

Technician, 2018 – 2020
B.S., UC Santa Cruz
Next: PhD student @ UWashington

Justin Arnold

Undergraduate, 2019 – 2021
Next: MD student @ Northwestern U

Justin Burdge

Undergraduate, 2018 – 2019
B.S., University of Pennsylvania
Next:  PhD student in the lab

Lucie Pham

Undergraduate, 2019 – 2021
B.S., University of Pennsylvania
Next: MD student @ Rutgers

Samuel Kaufmann

Undergraduate, 2019 – 2020
Current: Research Assistant @ UPenn