Science at Columbia College

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Darcy Kelley meets with students in her labProfessor Darcy Kelley meets with students in her lab It is an exciting time to study science at Columbia. Columbia faculty work at the frontiers of science, have been responsible for many of the most significant scientific discoveries in all branches of the biological, natural and physical sciences, and are internationally recognized for their contributions. Nine Nobel Laureates are among the current faculty at Columbia; Columbia boasts 73 more Nobel Laureates among past faculty and alumni. Faculty have received other prestigious recognition such as The Kavli Prize, The Crafoord Prize and the National Medal of Science.

Science Research at Columbia

Science undergraduates at Columbia enjoy a very low student-faculty ratio and therefore have direct access to some of the greatest scientific minds in the world. They have an almost unlimited range of opportunities to undertake cutting-edge research  in  research facilities both at the Morningside campus and at the University’s Medical Center, as well as at Columbia-affiliated research centers including:

Students can also intern in many New York City institutions, including the Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo and American Museum of Natural History. Students also have access to departmental research opportunities, such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and the Office of Fellowship Programs.

Examples of recent student research projects include:

  • Examining chemical pathways in stimulating ovarian follicle stem cell renewal
  • Developing a new instrument to detect nanoparticles
  • Identifying molecules that promote mouse neuron regeneration
  • Analyzing sediment levels in New York Harbor to examine urban growth
  • Studying the effect of brightness on the papillary light responses
  • Investigating the binding capabilities of proteins
  • Creating a computer program to calculate the transmission of electrons.

Learn more about research at Columbia by reading undergraduate student research abstracts.

Science and the Core

Science students at Columbia benefit from the Core Curriculum. Every first-year Columbia College student takes Frontiers of Science, which introduces students to ideas at the forefront of scientific research. Additionally, the centrality of the Core Curriculum is emphasized by the recognition that scientific and technical knowledge most be supported and directed by ideas and values. The Core teaches students to think about complexity and ambiguity in a way that is conscious of these values, and in a world where science and technology continually deliver innovation, no individual is better prepared to take a leadership role in science than one who has spent time weighing the great humanistic questions that have shaped our civilization.

Legacy of Science at Columbia

Pupin Hall was built in 1927 and has housed such famous physicists as Enrico Fermi, Wallace Eckert and I.I. Rabi. The tradition of science at Columbia is rich with discoveries and innovations that have changed history and our understanding of the world. Home of the science behind the X-ray, MRI, modern genetics, plate tectonics and modern robotics, Columbia has been educating students in “the liberal arts and sciences” since our original charter in 1754. This legacy is the foundation to the continued leadership in all of the science disciplines. In the past dozen years alone, four faculty members in the sciences have won the Nobel Prize.