For five years, Barnard has supported an increasing number of STEM students through the Summer Research Institute (SRI). This summer, SRI saw 161 students—its largest group to date—as they conducted scientific research by working closely with faculty mentors in labs at Barnard and around the New York City area for 10 weeks. The fully subsidized program provides an immersive opportunity for students in biology, chemistry, environmental science, mathematics, neuroscience and behavior, physics and astronomy, and psychology. In addition to their lab work, participants attended lectures and showcased their work. SRI is part of Beyond Barnard, which supports all students and alumnae as they define, pursue, and achieve success in their careers and communities.

Outside the Lab

On June 20, students and alumnae attended the "Diverse Careers in STEM Dinner," where guests Yana Zorina (co-founder, KiiLn; assay development scientist, Memorial Sloan Kettering), Josephine McGowan '16 (Columbia University PhD candidate, neurobiology and behavior), Irene Dankwa-Mullan (deputy chief health officer, IBM Watson Health), and Yasmin Khakoo (attending pediatric neurologist/neuro-oncologist and child neurology director, Memorial Sloan Kettering) shared information about different careers in STEM. The event was moderated by SRI Co-director and Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Biology John Glendinning and coordinated by Beyond Barnard. 

On August 1, SRI student-scholars presented their work at the capstone “poster session” event. Provost and Dean of the Faculty and Claire Tow Professor of Economics Linda A. Bell said, “The Summer Research Institute builds on Barnard's commitment to faculty-student research collaboration. The SRI exposes students to scientific research and methods both in their laboratory work and through the larger program of speakers and events. Now in its fifth year, SRI has met its goal this year to provide paid summer science lab research to any Barnard student who can find a research mentor. By all metrics, SRI has been a great success, and the number of students participating in scientific research continues to grow.”

SRI Co-director and Professor of Environmental Studies Martin Stute also addressed this year’s SRI student-scholars, noting that with nearly 100 faculty mentors, SRI was able to expand and support every student in the sciences who applied to the program.

Lab Research

In these videos, students discuss the research they conducted with the guidance of their mentors.

  • Nora McNamara-Bordewick '20 worked with Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Jonathan Snow in the Snow Lab as well as on the rooftop of Barnard Hall, where several beehives are housed. McNamara-Bordewick researched a parasite that affects the lives of honey bees and contributes to colony collapse disorder. Understanding bee cell biology helps scientists to better understand how this disorder affects insects who play a crucial role in pollinating many of the foods we eat. 
  • Biiftu Duresso '19 worked with Columbia University's postdoctoral mentor Lenzie Ford-James in the Adaptive Behavior Lab of Peter Balsam, Samuel R. Milbank Chair and Professor of Psychology. Duresso researched a protein often found in brains that have neurodegenerative disorders. To learn more about Duresso, read a story about her published in the Democrat & Chronicle.
  • Tasneem Ebrahim '20 worked with Associate Professor of Biology Jen Mansfield and Columbia's Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and lab principal investigator Songtao Jia. Ebrahim researched how environmental factors, like glucose, can create changes in DNA and get passed onto future generations. In 2016, she gave the Student Commencement Address at her graduation from the Hun School of Princeton. Watch the video of her speech here.
  • Carla Hachicho '19 worked with Diana T. and P. Roy Vagelos Professor of Chemistry Rachel Austin in her Austin Laboratory where student researchers, like Hachicho, often collaborate. In April, Hachicho participated in the 26th Annual CSTEP Statewide Student Conference in chemistry and biochemistry.
  • Shruti Varadarajan '19 worked with Helene L. and Mark N. Kaplan Professor of Natural & Physical Sciences and the head of the Silver Neurobiology Laboratory Rae Silver. In May, Silver was awarded a major grant from the National Science Foundation for her project "RUI: Mapping physical networks to functional networks in SCN oscillation." SRI student-scholars, including Varadarajan, are assisting with this project. Silver and Varadarajan have also cowritten a forthcoming academic article (watch Varadarajan's video to learn more). Read more about Varadarajan in this student-written Bwog profile interview.


The Summer Research Institute is funded by The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, Con Edison, The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Henry Luce Foundation, and the Mellon Fund for Enhancing the Sciences at Barnard, as well as a number of anonymous donors.

Photos from 2018's poster session event:

SRI 2018