María P. Fernández

Assistant Professor of Neuroscience


Neuroscience & Behavior


415H-1 Milbank Hall


María de la Paz Fernández joined the Barnard faculty in the Summer of 2019, and is currently a member of the faculty of the Columbia Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior. She is also an affiliate member of the Columbia Zuckerman Institute. At Barnard, she leads the Behavioral Neurobiology Lab

Dr. Fernández completed a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Buenos Aires, under the supervision of Dr. Fernanda Ceriani. She conducted postdoctoral training with Dr. Edward A. Kravitz in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. As a postdoctoral fellow, she was named a Pew Latin American Fellow (Pew Program in the Biomedical Sciences) and received an International Society for Neuroethology Young Investigator Award. In 2023 she received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Her current research is focused on understanding how differences in the neuronal architecture of the timekeeping system in the Drosophila brain underlie sex differences in sleep/wake cycles.

Lab Website


B.Sc., Universidad de Quilmes (Argentina)

Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Postdoctoral Fellow,  Neurobiology Department, Harvard Medical School

- Sleep/Wake Cycles

- Sexual Dimorphism in Behavior

- Aggression and Territoriality


Pantalia M, Lin Z, Tener SJ, Qiao B, Tang G, Ulgherait M, O’Connor R, Delventhal R, Siewert J, Syed S, Canman JC, Fernández MP and Shirazu-Hiza M (2023). Glial ebony regulates neurotransmission and diverse Drosophila behaviors (in press, Scientific Reports)

Fernandez MP, Trannoy S, Certel SJ (2023). Fighting Flies: Quantifying and Analyzing Drosophila Aggression. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2023 Apr 5. doi: 10.1101/pdb.top107985. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37019610.

Trannoy S, Fernandez MP, Certel SJ (2023). Comparing Methods for Quantifying and Analyzing Drosophila Aggression. Cold Spring Harb Protoc. 2023 Apr 5. doi: 10.1101/pdb.prot108144. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37019607.

Shafer OT, Gutierrez GJ, Li K, Mildenhall A, Spira D, Marty J, Lazar A, and Fernández MP (2022). Connectomic Analysis of the Drosophila Lateral Neuron Clock Cells Reveals the Synaptic Basis of Functional Pacemaker Classes. eLife. 11:e79139. doi: 10.7554/eLife.79139.

Jois S, Chan Y-B, Fernández MP, Pujari N, Janz LJ and Leung A.K-W. (2022). Sexually Dimorphic Mechanosensory Neurons Regulate Copulation Duration and Persistence in Male Drosophila. Scientific Reports 12, 6177

Pearsons JL, Abhilash L, Lopatkin AJ, Roelofs A, Bell EV, Fernández MP and Shafer OT. PHASE: A MATLAB-Based Program for the Analysis of Drosophila Phase, Activity, and Sleep under Entrainment. Journal of Biological Rhythms (2022, in press)

Pandolfi M, Scaia MF and Fernández MP. Sexual Dimorphism in Aggression: Sex-Specific Fighting Strategies Across Species (2021). Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 15: 659615

Kostadinov B, Pettibone HL, Bell EV, Zhou X, Pranevicius A, Shafer OT and Fernández MP* (2021). Open-Source Computational Framework for Studying Drosophila Behavioral Phase. Star Protocols 2 (1).

Legros, J, Tang G, Gautrais J, Fernández MP and Trannoy S (2021). Long-term dietary restriction leads to development of alternative fighting strategies. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 14:166.

Monyak RE, Golbari NM, Chan Y-B, Pranevicius A,Tang G, Fernandez MP, and Kravitz EA (2021). Masculinized Drosophila females adapt their fighting strategies to their opponent. Journal of Experimental Biology. DOI:10.1242/jeb.238006

Fernández MP*, Pettibone HL, Bogart J, Roell CJ, Davey CE, Pranevicius A, Huynh KV, Lennox SM, Kostadinov BS and Shafer OT*. (2020). Sites of Circadian Clock Neuron Plasticity Mediate Sensory Integration and Entrainment. Current Biology 30, 1-13.

  • Comment in: Rouyer F and Chatterjee A (2020). Circadian Clocks: Structural Plasticity from the Input Side. Current Biology 30: R871-R876.

Jois S, Chan Y-B, Fernández MP and Leung A K-W. (2018). Characterization of the sexually dimorphic Fruitless neurons that regulate copulation duration. Frontiers in Physiology 9:780. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00780.

Kravitz EA* and Fernández MP* (2015). Aggression in Drosophila. Behavioral Neuroscience 129(5):549-563.         

Alekseyenko OV, Chan YB, Fernández MP, Bülow T, Pankratz MJ, Kravitz EA (2014). Single Serotonergic Neurons that Modulate Aggression in Drosophila. Current Biology 24:2700-7.

Andrews JC, Fernández MP, Yu Q, Leary GP, Leung AK, Kavanaugh MP, Kravitz EA, Certel SJ (2014). Octopamine neuromodulation regulates gr32a-linked aggression and courtship pathways in Drosophila males. PLoS Genetics 10(5):e1004356.

Fernández MP* and Kravitz EA (2013). Aggression and courtship in Drosophila: pheromonal communication and sex recognition. Journal of Comparative Physiology. 199:1065-76

Fernández MP*, Chan YB, Yew JY, Billeter J-C, Dreisewerd K, Levine JD and Kravitz EA (2010). Pheromonal and Behavioral Cues Trigger Male-to-Female Aggression in Drosophila. PLoS Biology 8(11): e1000541.

Rezával C, Berni J, Gorostiza EA, Werbajh S, Fagilde MM, Fernández MP, Beckwith EJ, Aranovich EJ, Sabio y García CA and Ceriani MF (2008). A functional misexpression screen uncovers a role for enabled in progressive neurodegeneration. PLoS One 3: e3332

Fernández MP, Berni J and Ceriani MF (2008). Circadian remodeling of neuronal circuits involved in rhythmic behavior. PLoS Biology 6 (3):69

Berni J, Beckwith EJ, Fernández MP and Ceriani MF (2008). The axon-guidance roundabout gene alters the pace of the Drosophila circadian clock. European Journal of Neuroscience 27: 396-407

Stoleru D, Nawathean P, Fernández MP, Menet JS, Ceriani MF and Rosbash M (2007). The Drosophila circadian network is a seasonal timer. Cell 129: 207-219.

Fernández MP, Chu J, Villella A, Atkinson N, Kay SA and Ceriani MF (2007). Impaired clock output by altered connectivity in the circadian network. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104: 5650-5655

Bekinschtein T, Negro, A, Goldin A, Fernández MP, Rosenbaum S and D.A. Golombek (2004). Seasonality in a native Mapuche population. Biological Rhythms Research 35: 145-152.


*Corresponding or co-corresponding authors.

Society for Neuroscience (SfN)

International Society for Neuroethology (ISN)

Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR)

Genetics Society of America (GSA)

  • NSF CAREER Award (2023)
  • MINDS Fellow (2020)
  • Harvard University Distinction in Teaching Award  (2012 and 2011), Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Young Investigator Award  (2010), International Society for Neuroethology
  • Pew Postdoctoral Fellow (2008)Pew Program in the Biomedical Sciences

In The News

The Beckman Scholar is dedicated to studying the brain’s artful compositions, in between making music and rugby plays.

December 18, 2023

Winning the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award will allow the neuroscientist to substantially expand her research program and develop science outreach activities.

February 27, 2023

By Prof. María de la Paz Fernández and Prof. Rae Silver

October 6, 2021

In celebration of National Latinx Heritage Month, Barnard asks, “How do you self-identify?” and members of the community share their complex, powerful answers. 

September 16, 2021