New York, NY, June 14, 2023 — The New York Academy of Sciences and the Leon Levy Foundation announced today the first cohort of Leon Levy Scholars in Neuroscience; a continuation of an earlier fellowship program started by the Foundation in 2009 that has supported 160 fellows in neuroscience.
This highly regarded postdoctoral program supports exceptional young researchers across the five boroughs of New York City as they pursue innovative investigations in neuroscience and advance in their careers toward becoming independent principal investigators. Designed to broaden the field and to support researchers who might otherwise not have equal opportunity to secure postdoctoral funding, ten (10) scholars were selected for a three-year term from more than a dozen institutions across New York City that offer postdoctoral positions in neuroscience.
“My husband, Leon, had a keen interest in studies of the brain after taking a psychology course as an undergraduate at City College of New York. He was fascinated by the minds of scientists,” said Shelby White, founding trustee of the Leon Levy Foundation. “We see these Leon Levy Scholars as the pathway to making great strides in neuroscience, so we are proud to support these gifted young researchers, providing them financial and career support, along with recognition, to advance their careers.”
“New York is an epicenter of neuroscience, with some of the best brain research being conducted in the United States,” said Nicholas Dirks, the Academy’s president and CEO. “Our distinguished jury selected 10 outstanding neuroscientists across the five boroughs conducting cutting-edge research. We are excited to be working with the Leon Levy Foundation to usher in this new group of young neuroscientists, providing guidance and financial support to encourage ground-breaking discoveries that will ultimately result in growth in this crucial field.”
The Scholars program features structured mentorship by distinguished senior scientists. Workshops will help Scholars with grant writing, as well as developing leadership, communications, and management skills. The programs will encourage networking, data sharing, cross-institutional collaboration and an opportunity for networking at an annual Leon Levy Scholars symposium.
The 2023 Leon Levy Scholars
- Thiago Arzua, Columbia University
Recognized for: How information about stressful events is encoded in the brain and how it can be passed through generations.
- Ana Badimon, The Rockefeller University
Recognized for: How contact system activation could affect the brain, and most notably the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Shai Berman, Columbia University
Recognized for: How the body’s physiological states—particularly hunger— affect value-based decision making.
- Cynthia Chai, Columbia University
Recognized for: Identifying the neural circuit and genetic elements that undergo the strongest selective pressures to enhance survival through the study of escape responses in closely-related fly species
- Andrew Chang, New York University
Recognized for: How music and speech is perceived, processed and distinguished in the human brain and its relevance for individuals with communication disorders.
- Jonathan Gill, NYU Langone Health
Recognized for: Distinguishing the neural circuits that are correlated with odor identity and behavioral choice
- Kelvin Q. Laracuente, New York University
Recognized for: The neural circuitry of how we perceive visual social signals and how it relates to and integrates with other somatic sensory social input to shape social awareness.
- Pablo Lituma, Weill Cornell Medicine
Recognized for: The role of RNA regulation in non-neuronal brain cells and its impact on neuronal function.
- Brian Sweis, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Recognized for: Combining neuroeconomics and transcriptomics to examine decision-making dysfunction underlying regret processing in rodent stress models.
- Geoffrey Terral, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Recognized for Examining the morphology and connectivity of inhibitory neurons and subsequently, their functional ability to generate brainwaves.
About the Leon Levy Foundation
The Leon Levy Foundation continues and builds upon the philanthropic legacy of Leon Levy, supporting preservation, understanding, and the expansion of knowledge, with a focus on the ancient world, arts and humanities, nature and gardens, neuroscience, human rights, and Jewish culture. The Foundation was created in 2004 from Leon Levy’s estate by his wife, founding trustee Shelby White. To learn more, visit: www.leonlevyfoundation.org
About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science for the benefit of society. With more than 20,000 Members in 100 countries, the Academy advances scientific and technical knowledge, addresses global challenges with science-based solutions, and sponsors a wide variety of educational initiatives at all levels for STEM and STEM-related fields. These include prestigious science awards programs. The Academy hosts programs and publishes content in the life and physical sciences, the social sciences, nutrition, artificial intelligence, computer science, and sustainability. The Academy also provides professional and educational resources for researchers across all phases of their careers. To learn more, visit www.nyas.org or
For more information about the Scholarship program, contact: LeonLevy@nyas.org
Media contact: Kamala Murthy | Kmurthy@nyas.org