Research training for post-doctoral fellows


Any of the broad array of research interests and projects described in the introductory essay are available as venues for post-doctoral training in research. In addition, we offer training that combines research with the developing of undergraduate teaching skills. One venue is a new introductory course in the sciences, Frontiers of Science. This program is called Columbia Science Fellows and is best undertaken after you have a research program up and running in the laboratory.

If you think you might be interested in joining the laboratory as a post-doctoral fellow you should arrange to talk to me (Darcy) about possible projects, timing and support. If you are in New York, you can call (212-854-5108) or email ( to arrange for a visit. If you are outside of New York and want to meet, check the current lecture schedule for 2008.

After an initial meeting I will ask you to arrange for three letters of reference to be sent (preferably via email) to me. If these are favorable and you are still interested we will arrange for a visit to the laboratory where you will give a talk on your research to the weekly lab meeting and meet with lab members.

All post-doctoral fellows in the laboratory are expected to apply for extramural support at some point during training. US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for individual post-doctoral fellowships (NRSAs) and support from training grants. The Department maintains a roster of possible support sources for non-citizens.

The most recent postdoctoral fellows to emerge from the lab are: Joe Thornton, Ayako Yamaguchi, Kwok-Hang Wu, Clementine Vignal and Eun-Jin Yang. Joe ( uses and develops phylogenetic and molecular techniques to understand the evolution of the nuclear receptor superfamily, which — as specific ligand-regulated transcription factors — provide a tractable and biologically important model for understanding the evolution of complexity, integration, and biological information processing at the molecular level. Joe is now Associate Professor at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon (Center for Ecology and Evolution). Ayako ( uses the methods of cellular neurobiology (patch clamp, gene isolation) to understand how sex specific songs are generated by laryngeal motor neurons. Ayako is Assistant Professor at Boston University. Kwok ( explored estrogen regulation of synaptic strength in the vocal system using intracellular recording and molecular approaches. Kwok is a research scientist at Third wave technologies in Madison, WI. Clementine Vignal is interested in how social context affects perception of auditory communication signals. At Columbia she carried out a series of experiments that demonstarted the pre-eminence of temporal features for recognition of the sex of the caller. She is currently Assistant Professor at the Universite Jean Monet. Eun Jin Yang ( got her Ph.D. with Walt Wilcyznski at the University of Texas at Austin.At Columbia she discovered that gonadotropin can act directly on the central nervous system to stimulate male song. Jin is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard in Takao Hensch's lab.

Recent publications of post-doctoral fellows:

Yang, E-J., Nasipak, B.Y. and Kelley, D.B. 2007.  Direct action of gonadotropin in brain integrates behavioral and reproductive functions. PNAS, 104, 2477 - 2482.

Vignal, C. and Kelley, D. 2007. Significance of temporal and spectral acoustic cues for sexual recognition in Xenopus laevis. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 274, 479 - 488.

Yamaguchi, A., Kaczmarek, L. and Kelley, D.B.  2003.  Functional specialization of male and female motoneurons.  J. Neurosci., 23, 11568- 11576.

Wu, K.H., Tobias, M.T., and Kelley, D.B. 2003.  Estrogen receptor expression in laryngeal muscle in relation to estrogen dependent increases in synaptic strength.  Neuroendocrinology, 78:72-80.

Wu, K.H., Tobias, M.T., Thornton, J.W. and Kelley, D.B. 2003.  Estrogen receptors in Xenopus: Duplicate genes, splice variants, and tissue-specific expression. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol.133:38-49.

Yamaguchi, A. and Kelley, D.B.  2002.  Hormonal mechanisms of acoustic communication.  In Acoustic Communiucation, A. Megala-Simmons, A. Popper and R. Fay, Eds.  Springer Verlag, New York. 275 - 323.

Yamaguchi, A., Kaczmarek, L. and Kelley, D.B. 2003. Functional specialization of male and female motoneurons. J. Neurosci., in press.

Thornton JW. Gene family phylogenetics: tracing protein evolution on trees. In: Techniques in Molecular Systematics, eds. DeSalle R, Giribet G, Wheeler W. Birkauser-Verlag, 2002.

Thornton JW. Evolution of vertebrate steroid receptors from an ancestral estrogen receptor by ligand exploitation and serial genome expansions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 98 (10), 5671-5676, 2001.

Thornton JW, DeSalle R. Phylogenetics meets genomics: homology and evolution in gene families. Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics 1:43-72, 2000.

Thornton JW, Kelley DB. Evolution of the androgen receptor: structure-function implications. BioEssays 20:820-829, 1998.