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 (Betta splendens).

© drawings of Betta sp. by Jordan Ahava

People

Bendesky Lab, May 2019


Andrés Bendesky

Principal Investigator

Andrés got his MD from UNAM, Mexico, his PhD from Rockefeller University, and was a Helen Hay Whitney Fellow at Harvard. He is interested in how complex behaviors are generated by the brain and how they evolve.

Kerel Francis

Lab Manager and Research Assistant

Kerel received his MSc in Neuroscience from the University of Bremen. Currently he is working in collaboration with the Kӧnig lab at the University of Zurich whose aim is to understand the evolution of social behavior in mice.

Natalie Niepoth

PhD Student (E3B program)

Natalie got her BSc from Rice University and a masters in evolutionary biology from the University of Amsterdam. She is studying the genetic basis of anxiety and exploration in Peromyscus mice.

Madison Lichak

Research Assistant

Madison received her BA from Barnard College and completed her senior thesis in the Bendesky lab. She now coordinates the Betta facility and is working to develop genetically modified Betta fish.

Magdalen Kwarteng

Undergrad

Magdalen is a student at Barnard College. She is studying visually evoked aggression in Betta fish and how social isolation can modulate this process.

Claire Everett

PhD Student (NB program)

Claire received her BA from Barnard College. She is studying the visual cues critical for evoking aggression in Betta splendens. She is also interested in the neural circuits underlying Betta visual processing of aggression-inducing stimuli.

Emily Lei

Undergrad

Emily is a student at Barnard College. She is studying how the brain and periphery interact to shape exploratory behavior.

Amy Norovich

Postdoc

Amy received her PhD from Columbia University and her BSc from MIT. She is studying the neural basis of sexually dimorphic behaviors in Betta splendens.

Young Mi Kwon

Research Assistant

Young Mi got her BS from Harvard and her masters from the University of Cambridge, UK. She is studying genetics in Betta fish.

Christoph Gebhardt

Postdoc

Christoph received his PhD from KIT and was a postdoc in the lab of Filippo Del Bene. He aims to understand the neural basis of differences in parental care behavior display in several Peromyscus species.

Kimberly Hernandez

PhD Student (NB program)

Kim is a PhD student in the lab jointly supervised by Andrés and Steven Siegelbaum.

Pei-Yin Shih

Postdoc

Pei received her PhD from Caltech working in the lab of Paul Sternberg. She is studying the genetic basis of aggression in Betta splendens.

Hiroki Tomida

Graduate student (E3B program)

Hiroki got his BA from ICU. He is studying the genetic basis of aggressive behavior in Betta fish. He is interested in the genetic basis and evolution of complex traits.

Peter Lichtenthal

Undergrad

Peter is a post-bac in Columbia's E3B program. Peter works in breeding wild caught Betta fish, and assists Claire and Madison in their behavioral and genetic work.

Elaine Lee

Undergrad

Elaine is a student at Columbia College. She is interested in how aggression in Betta splendens manifests on the circuitry level and how aggression circuits differ between males and females.

Joseph Brew

Undergrad

Joseph is a student at Columbia College in the E3B program. He is interested in the behavioural and evolutionary impacts of climate change as well as understanding complex behavioural processes through the study of genetics.

Julio Bendesky

Lab Mascot

Julio is a dachshund and really good at detecting and retrieving food (that belongs to others).

Selected Publications

Generation, Coordination, and Evolution of Neural Circuits for Vocal Communication
Darcy B. Kelley, Irene H. Ballagh, Charlotte L. Barkan, Andres Bendesky, Taffeta M. Elliott, Ben J. Evans, Ian C. Hall, Young Mi Kwon, Ursula Kwong-Brown, Elizabeth C. Leininger, Emilie C. Perez, Heather J. Rhodes, Avelyne Villain, Ayako Yamaguchi and Erik Zornik
J Neurosci. 2020 Jan 2;40 (1) 22-36.

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.

2020

January 9: Andrés again joins the TWIN Podcast covering ACBARs, virus-like capsids that transfer genetic information between neurons

January 2: Review article with Darcy Kelley on vocal communication in Xenopus frogs published

2019

November 5: Andrés talks about work in the lab and about synaptic transmission and plasticity in the new Podcast "This Week In Neuroscience" (TWIN)

August 29: Magdalen and her work are featured on the Barnard College youtube channel.

August 16: Pei-Yin starts her postdoc in the lab, Hiroki (E3B MA Program) joins the lab

August 1: Kim (NB&B) starts her PhD in the lab

April 1: Christoph starts his postdoc in the lab

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

February 1: Young Mi joins the lab as Research Assistant

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

2018

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

July 1: Madison re-joins the lab as Research Assistant

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

March 1: Emily joins the lab for her undergraduate thesis

January 15: Magdalen joins the lab as part of her senior neuroscience thesis project

2017

September 1: Natalie (E3B) starts her PhD in the lab, Madison joins the lab for her undergraduate thesis

August 1: Lab opens

Contact

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

1-212-853-1174
andres@bendeskylab.com