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Meet the Curators

Rob DeSalle, Co-Director of the Molecular Systematics Laboratories; and Curator, Division of Invertebrate Zoology
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Rob DeSalle's fields of specialization include molecular evolution, genomics, systematics and bioinformatics. His current work centers on gene family evolution, tree of life studies, and comparative genomics in a wide variety of organisms including animals, plants, and bacteria. Dr. DeSalle, who is a curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, also conducts research in the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, which applies studies at the molecular level to the understanding of the history of life on this planet. His recent scientific publications address the use of the tree of life to understand evolutionary innovations such as the evolution of the nervous system. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia University, New York University, and the City University of New York. In addition to his research and teaching, Dr. DeSalle is author or co-author of several popular books including Brain (Bunker Hill Press, 2010), Your 21st Century Brain; Amazing Games to Play With Your Mind (Sterling Publishers, 2010), Bones, Brains and DNA: The Human Genome and Human Evolution (Bunker Hill Press, 2009), Human Origins: What Bones and Genomes Tell Us about Ourselves (Texas A&M University Press, 2008), Welcome to the Genome (Wiley, 2005), The Science of Jurassic Park and the Lost World (Basic Books, 1997), and Epidemic! (New Press, 2000). He co-curated the Museum's Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins (opened 2007) and curated the museum's landmark exhibitions Epidemic! The World of Infectious Disease (1999), The Genomic Revolution (2001), and Brain: The Inside Story (2010). Dr. DeSalle received his B.A. in biological sciences from the University of Chicago in 1976 and his Ph.D. in 1984 from Washington University. He joined the Museum in 1991.

Joy Hirsch, Director of the Program for Imaging & Cognitive Sciences and Professor, Columbia University
Joy Hirsch

In 2000 Dr. Joy Hirsch joined Columbia University as professor of functional neuroradiology, neuroscience, and psychology to direct a new multi-disciplinary brain imaging center for research, education, and translational benefits for patient care that was funded by a grant from Johnson & Johnson. Together with her students and collaborators, she is currently investigating how neural systems for cognition, emotion, perception, and executive decision-making are regulated in the brain. Ground-breaking findings from these studies serve as the basis for multiple National Institutes of Health grants to investigate a variety of clinical applications to understand autism, anxiety disorders, chronic pain, disorders of consciousness, eating disorders, obesity, alcohol addiction and behavior change, and executive decision-making. Dr. Hirsch received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1978 and then joined the faculty at Yale University, where she received the Leah Lowenstein Teaching Award. In 1991 she joined Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Weil Cornell Medical College to head one of the first functional MRI (fMRI) laboratories in the country. Her pioneering work advanced understanding of brain neurocircuitry underlying language, visual perception, and cognition. Dr. Hirsch has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and is a popular lecturer and public speaker on topics of brain and mind. She delivered the prestigious George Gamow Memorial Lecture in 2009.

Margaret Zellner, behavioral neuroscientist and psychoanalyst; Adjunct Faculty at The Rockefeller University
Magaret Zellner

Margaret Zellner, Ph.D., L.P., is a psychoanalyst, behavioral neuroscientist, and neuropsychoanalytic educator. She is a member of the adjunct faculty of The Rockefeller University, is affiliated with the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis (NPAP), and has taught neuroscience since 2003 at the yearly congresses of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society, the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California, and the National Institute for the Psychotherapies. She received her Ph.D. in Neuropsychology in 2008 from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Dr. Zellner is the Executive Director of the Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation, and has a private practice in psychoanalytic psychotherapy in New York City.

Margaret Zellner, Ph.D., L.P., is a psychoanalyst, behavioral neuroscientist, and neuropsychoanalytic educator. She is a member of the adjunct faculty of The Rockefeller University, is affiliated with the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis (NPAP), and has taught neuroscience since 2003 at the yearly congresses of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society, the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California, and the National Institute for the Psychotherapies. Dr. Zellner has a private practice in psychoanalytic psychotherapy in New York City and serves as the President and Chair of the Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation in New York.

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