The bendesky lab

Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, E3B, Columbia University

What we do

The diversity of animal behavior is fascinating, yet we know little about how behavior evolves.
We take genetic, genomic, molecular, and neurobiological approaches to understand the mechanisms underlying the natural variation and evolution of behavior.
Our work focuses mostly on exploratory and social behaviors – like pair bonding and parental care – in Peromyscus mice, and on aggression in Siamese Fighting Fish.


Andrés Bendesky

Principal Investigator

Andrés got his MD at UNAM, Mexico, his PhD at Rockefeller University working in the lab of Cori Bargmann, and was a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard with Hopi Hoekstra and Catherine Dulac

Kerel Francis

Lab Manager

Kerel got his BS at Mercy College and a masters in neuroscience at the University of Bremen

Amy Norovich


Amy got her PhD at Columbia in the lab of Tom Jessell

Natalie Niepoth

PhD Student

Natalie got her BS at Rice and a masters in evolutionary biology at the University of Amsterdam. She's now in the E3B graduate program

Claire Everett

PhD Student

Claire got her BS at Barnard and is now in the Neurobiology and Behavior graduate program

Madison Lichak

Research Assistant

Madison got her at Barnard College and did her Honors Thesis work in the Bendesky lab

Emily Lei


Emily is a student at Barnard

Selected Publications

The genetic basis of parental care evolution in monogamous mice
Bendesky A, Young-Mi Kwon, Jean-Marc Lassance, Caitlin L Lewarch, Shenqin Yao, Brant K Peterson, Meng Xiao He, Catherine Dulac, Hopi E Hoekstra
Nature. 2017 Apr 27;544(7651):434-9.

Scientific and media coverage
News and Views: Phelps SM. Animal behaviour: How to build a better dad. Nature. 2017;544:418–419.
Snyder-Mackler M, Tung J. Vasopressin and the Neurogenetics of Parental Care. Neuron. 2017;95:9-11
Hager R. The Genes That Make a Good Parent. Trends in Genetics. 2017. In press
Media Coverage: Carl Zimmer. Why Are Some Mice (and People) Monogamous? A Study Points to Genes. New York Times. April 19, 2017.
Andrea Marks. The Mouse Parent Trap. Scientific American. July 2017.

Long-range regulatory polymorphisms affecting a GABA receptor constitute a quantitative trait locus (QTL) for social behavior in Caenorhabditis elegans.
Bendesky A, Pitts J, Rockman MV, Chen WC, Tan MW, Kruglyak L, Bargmann CI.
PLoS Genet. 2012;8(12):e1003157.

Genetic contributions to behavioural diversity at the gene-environment interface.
Bendesky A, Bargmann CI.
Nat Rev Genet. 2011 Nov 8;12(12):809-20.

Catecholamine receptor polymorphisms affect decision-making in C. elegans.
Bendesky A, Tsunozaki M, Rockman MV, Kruglyak L, Bargmann CI.
Nature. 2011 Apr 21;472(7343):313-8.

GFP Reconstitution Across Synaptic Partners (GRASP) defines cell contacts and synapses in living nervous systems.
Feinberg EH, Vanhoven MK, Bendesky A, Wang G, Fetter RD, Shen K, Bargmann CI.
Neuron. 2008 Feb 7;57(3):353-63.


February 19: Andrés is named a 2019 Sloan Research Fellow in Neuroscience. News here

January: Amy is selected as a Junior Fellow of the Simons Society of Fellows


August 20: Claire (NB&B) joins the lab

May 15: Andrés is awarded a Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship Award in Neuroscience

April 4: Andrés is named a Searle Scholar. News here

March 19: Amy starts her postdoc in the lab


September 1: Natalie (E3B) starts her PhD in the lab

August 1: Lab opens


Andrés Bendesky
Jerome L. Greene Science Center
Columbia University
3227 Broadway, Room L3.051
New York, NY 10027