Blair Jenkins and Raphael Gerraty are the winners of the 2018 Kavli Institute Award for Distinguished Research in Neuroscience

Jenkins and Gerraty share this year’s award

The recipients of the 2018 Kavli Award for Distinguished Research in Neuroscience at Columbia University are Blair Jenkins, a Neurobiology & Behavior MD/PhD student who completed her thesis work in the laboratory of Ellen Lumpkin, and Raphael Gerraty, a Psychology PhD student who completed his thesis work in the laboratory of Daphna Shohamy.

Blair Jenkins (left) and Raphael Gerraty (right)
Blair Jenkins (left) and Raphael Gerraty (right)

Blair’s thesis was entitled, “Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Mammalian Touch-Dome Development.” In her work, she discovered cell types and signaling pathways that pattern selective innervation of touch receptors during embryonic development. Her research reveals biological mechanisms that establish proper touch sensation in mammals, which is essential for social-emotional development in infants.

Blair is now completing her MD training at Columbia, and will apply to residency programs in the fall.

Raphael’s thesis was entitled, “Brain network mechanisms in learning behavior.” In his work, he sought to elucidate the roles of distributed brain networks in learning. To do this, he developed creative new techniques for computational analysis of fMRI data, leading to an important series of studies that characterize circuit-level interactions in cortico-striatal circuits in humans.  

Raphael will continue at Columbia University for his postdoctoral studies, as a Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience at Columbia. He will work at the Zuckermain Mind Brain Behavior Institute in the laboratory of Niko Kriegeskorte, in collaboration with John Morrison from the Department of Philosophy, to develop neural network models of the visual system in order to test whether and how we represent the world probabilistically. 

Congratulations to Blair and Raphael!