Ishmail attended an HBCU for college, North Carolina A&T University. Following a bachelor’s degree in animal science, Ishmail received a doctorate in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania. He performed postdoctoral research at Weill Cornell Medicine and University of Pennsylvania, and in 2018 he joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. 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 Science Diversity Leadership Award (2022)
  • Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences  (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)


Andrea Subotic

Administrative Lab Manager

B.S., UC Berkeley
M.A., Cal State University
as5515 [at]

Victoria Saltz


B.A., Williams College
vps2116 [at]


Sasha Fulton

EE Just Postdoc Fellow, UNCF

Ph.D., Mount Sinai Medicine
slf2127 [at]

Anissa Jhumka

Ph.D., Aix-Marseille University
aj3020 [at]

Briana Nixon

Ph.D., Weill Cornell Medicine
bn2369 [at]

Andre Toussaint

Simons Junior Fellow
PDEP Fellow, BWF

Ph.D., Temple University
at3658 [at]

Anastasia Zavitsanou

Ph.D., New York University (NYU)
az2764 [at]

Graduate students

Brittany Bistis

Biological Sciences PhD student
B.A., Yale University
bb2977 [at]

Justin Burdge

Biological Sciences PhD student
B.S., University of Pennsylvania
jb4582 [at]

Rachel Frazer

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

Ryan Schwark

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

Undergraduate students

Phalaen Chang

pc2908 [at]

Abednego Delinois

jad2321 [at]

Jonathan Ettricks Jr.

jce2132 [at]

Melody Gomez

mg3764 [at]

Alexis Knight

aak2220 [at]

Jake Kothandaraman

kothaj02 [at]

Alexis Imani Marshall

aim2141 [at]

Wadzanayi Mayiseni

wmm2129 [at]

Sarah Sørensen Ogata

sas2451 [at]

Simon Ogundare

soo211 [at]


Heather Rossi


2018 – 2021
Now: Research Associate  at UPenn

Leah Elias

Graduate Student

NIH NRSA F31 Fellow
2018 – 2022
Now: Postdoc at Johns Hopkins

Melanie Schaffler

Graduate Student

NIH NRSA F31 Fellow
2018 – 2022
Now: Teva Pharmaceuticals

Jared Boyce


2021 – 2022
Now: MD-PhD student at UWisconsin-Madison

William Foster


2018 – 2021
Now: PhD student at Columbia

Jessica Jones


2018 – 2020
Now: HHMI Gilliam Fellow & PhD student at UW

Isabella Succi


2020 – 2022
Now: PhD student at Columbia

Justin Arnold


2019 – 2021
Next: MD student at Northwestern U.

Justin Burdge


2018 – 2019
Next:  PhD student in the lab

Lucie Pham


2019 – 2021
Next: MD student at Rutgers U.

Samuel Kaufmann


2019 – 2020
Next: Research Assistant at UPenn