sTEAM Fellowship Program

animal behavior • evolution • physics • genomics

computer science • statistics • neuroscience • ecology


a team-based integrative summer research program that

includes a full summer stipend and housing allowance


first-year students in Columbia College and General Studies


students from underrepresented groups and/or those

with little to no research experience are encouraged to apply


student will work directly with teams of faculty and 

graduate students in E3B, Biological Sciences, and Physics


Summer 2019 (10-week program from May 28 to August 4)

for more information, email Dr. Dustin Rubenstein (

funding from Columbia College, General Studies, Center for Teaching & Learning, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Summer 2019 sTEAM Projects

Technological Solutions to Deciphering Behavior

This team will conduct a behavior project that relies on developing cutting-edge hardware solutions to solve longstanding biological problems. We will engineer a novel acoustic sensor array to localize underwater calling Xenopus frogs in order to study their unknown mating system. These animals live in turbid water in Africa, making observing their behavior in a natural setting all but impossible. To overcome these logistical challenges, students will assemble, test, and validate the hardware for this system relying on existing and custom software. Students will pilot the system in the lab (pools) and field (the Hudson River and local ponds) with mobile underwater sound sources. If this project goes well, a new team will deploy the system and study the frogs’ mating behavior in South Africa in summer 2020, something that has never been done before. This team seeks students interested in physics, engineering, and animal behavior.


Neural & Genomic Correlates of Vocal Behavior

This team will conduct an evolutionary and behavioral neuroscience project using sophisticated acoustic analysis and tracking software to study the process of speciation. Students will analyze vocalizations and behavioral interactions of hybrids created from pairs of Xenopus species using automated acoustic and tracking software that they program themselves. The project goal is to compare the vocalizations of hybrids to those of the parental species in order to determine how these species-specific traits evolve. If the project goes well, in summer 2020 a new team will map quantitative variation in calling behavior onto genomic loci using sequence data from each hybrid to discover genes that contribute to behaviors and map these to identified neural circuits and tissues that generate male songs. This team seeks students interested in neuroscience, animal behavior, evolution, and physics.

Dr. Darcy Kelley, Biological Sciences (

Dr. Szabolcs Marka, Physics (

Dr. Dustin Rubenstein, E3B (