Skip to main content

The New York Academy of Sciences and the Leon Levy Foundation Announce the 2024 Leon Levy Scholars in Neuroscience

New York, NY, May 29, 2024 — The New York Academy of Sciences and the Leon Levy Foundation announced today the 2024 cohort of Leon Levy Scholars in Neuroscience, continuing a program initiated by the Foundation in 2009 that has supported 170 fellows in neuroscience.

This highly regarded postdoctoral program supports exceptional young researchers across the five boroughs of New York City as they pursue innovative neuroscience research and advance their careers toward becoming independent principal investigators. Nine scholars were competitively selected for a three-year term from a broad pool of applications from more than a dozen institutions across New York City that offer postdoctoral positions in neuroscience.

Shelby White, founding trustee of the Leon Levy Foundation, said, “For two decades, the Foundation has supported over 170 of the best young neuroscience researchers in their risk-taking research and clinical work. We are proud to partner with The New York Academy of Sciences to continue to encourage these gifted young scientists, helping them not only to advance their careers but also to advance the cause of breakthrough research in the field of neuroscience.”

Nicholas Dirks, the Academy’s President and CEO said “Our distinguished jury selected nine outstanding neuroscientists across the five boroughs of New York City involved with cutting-edge research ranging from the study of neural circuitry of memory and decision-making, to psychedelic-based treatment of alcohol and substance abuse disorders, to the chemical communication of insects, to the use of organoids to study Alzheimer’s, to vocal learning research in mammals. We are excited to be working with the Leon Levy Foundation to welcome this new group of young neuroscientists to the Academy and the Leon Levy Scholar community.”

The Scholars program includes professional development opportunities such as structured mentorship by distinguished senior scientists, and workshops on grant writing, leadership development, communications, and management skills. The program facilitates networking among cohorts and alumni, data sharing, cross-institutional collaboration, and the annual Leon Levy Scholars symposium held in the Spring of 2025.

The 2024 Leon Levy Scholars


Tiphaine Bailly, PhD, The Rockefeller University

Recognized for: Genetically engineering the pheromone glands of ants to study chemical communication in insect societies.


Ernesto Griego, PhD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Recognized for: Mechanisms by which experience and brain disease modify inhibitory circuits in the dentate gyrus, a region of the brain that contributes to memory and learning.


Deepak Kaji, MD, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Recognized for: Using 3D organoids and assembloids to model abnormal protein accumulations and aggregations in the brain, a characteristic of Alzheimer’s Disease.


Jack Major, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Recognized for: Understanding the long-term effects of inflammation on somatosensory neurons, cells that perceive and communicate information about external stimuli and internal states such as touch, temperature and pain.


Brigid Maloney, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Recognized for: Identifying the transcriptomic (RNA transcript) specializations unique to advanced vocal learning mammals.


Amin Nejatbakhsh, PhD, Flatiron Institute

Recognized for: Statistical modeling of neural data to causally understand biological and artificial neural networks and the mechanisms therein.


Broc Pagni, PhD, NYU Langone Health

Recognized for: Identifying the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of psychedelic-based treatments for alcohol and substance use disorders.


Adithya Rajagopalan, PhD, New York University

Recognized for: Examining how neurons within the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex, combine input from other brain regions to encode complex properties of the world that guide decision-making. 


Genelle Rankin, PhD, The Rockefeller University

Recognized for: Identifying and characterizing how thalamic nuclei, specialized areas of the thalamus responsible for relaying sensory and motor signals and regulating consciousness, supports working memory maintenance.

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.

For more information about the Scholarship program, contact: LeonLevy@nyas.org 

Media Contact: Kamala Murthy | Kmurthy@nyas.org

Partner with Us: Fellowships

Our Unique Approach to Fellowships

Our fellowships are designed to attract talented international, interdisciplinary scholars who combine expertise in science with an understanding of the social, cultural, economic and technological challenges that science must address.

We take a holistic approach to scientific training, with the goal of developing a new community of scientists who embrace the critical role they play, today and in the future, to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Our fellowship experience is person-centric, guided by the individual rather than the institution. Our Fellows experience a thoughtfully curated educational journey where they are exposed to diverse perspectives across various disciplines under the mentorship of esteemed academics. In addition, we facilitate internships where our Fellows work directly with professionals in policy groups or in industry to gain valuable insights into the real-world potential applications for their research.

Our fellowships put an emphasis on science communication to ensure that scientists can effectively engage with society and build trust in science. To exercise these skills, Fellows give talks, write articles for publication on Academy channels and engaging in various other collaborative initiatives including participate on steering committees to plan our scientific conferences. In these ways, our Fellows provide an influx of exciting new research and ideas from around the world, augmenting the existing intellectual assets we are proud to have at the Academy.

Why Partner with Us?

We are a collaborative partner who seeks to provide high-quality, career-enhancing opportunities for early career scientists, creatively achieving alignment with our partner’s objectives. To this end, there are two ways we develop fellowships:

We can advance an existing program for you. If your organization has an established fellowship program that you would like to elevate, we can work with you to broaden its scope and expand your recruitment beyond the institutions where you currently seek talent.

We can work with you to develop a brand-new program. Give us your area of scientific interest and we can design a fellowship that meets our rigorous fellowship standards as well as align with your organizational objectives.

More about Fellowships from the Academy Blog

Contact Us

To explore the development of a fellowship program with the Academy, contact gifts@nyas.org.

The Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience (LLSN)

The logo for the Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience.

Promoting groundbreaking neuroscience research in the five boroughs of New York City. 

The scholarships support the most innovative young researchers at a critical stage of their careers—their postdoctoral research—as they develop the new ideas and directions that will help establish them as independent neuroscientists.

Overview

The Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience (LLSN) aim to promote groundbreaking neuroscience research in the five boroughs of New York City. The scholarships support the most innovative young researchers at a critical stage of their careers—their postdoctoral research—as they develop the new ideas and directions that will help establish them as independent neuroscientists.

The Scholarships seek to support exceptional young researchers as they pursue innovative investigations in neuroscience and advance their careers toward independent research by:

1. Cultivating excellence and innovation in a diverse neuroscience workforce and supporting postdoctoral Scholars, from all backgrounds, in preparing for a scientific career in the face of increasing competition.

2. Providing enhanced research autonomy to promote impactful scientific research.

3. Helping Scholars to develop wider professional skills such as writing grants and papers, project and budget management, promoting neuroethics, and enhanced community engagement.

4. Building and maintaining an engaged Leon Levy Scholar Alumni community to enhance collaboration and partnerships, encourage mentorship and networking, foster data sharing, and advance team science.

Applicants must be employed by an eligible institution (see below) in New York City.

Which institutions are eligible?

Applicants must be employed by one of the institutions listed below at the time the Scholarship begins, and should have the support of their proposed Research Advisor at the time of application. Institutions not listed here may contact leonlevy@nyas.org to request inclusion on the list of eligible employing institutions.

  • Adelphi University
  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Barnard College
  • City College of New York
  • CUNY Brooklyn College
  • CUNY College of Staten Island
  • CUNY Graduate Center
  • CUNY Hunter College
  • CUNY Lehman College
  • CUNY School of Medicine
  • CUNY Queens College
  • Columbia University
  • Columbia University Irving Medical Center
  • Cooper Union
  • Cornell Tech
  • The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
  • Flatiron Institute
  • Fordham University
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Long Island University
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • New York Blood Center
  • New York University
  • NYU Langone Health
  • Pace University
  • The Rockefeller University
  • SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Weill Cornell Medicine
The logo for the Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience.

Important Dates

The nomination period for the Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience will open on October 4, 2023. All materials must be submitted by December 13, 2023. Scholarships for the 2024 cohort of Scholars will run from September 1, 2024 to August 31, 2027.

  • Applications OPENOctober 4, 2023
  • Applications CLOSEDecember 13, 2023
  • Leon Levy Scholarships period begins: September 1, 2024
Instructions

Program Guidelines

Eligibility

By the time of appointment on September 1, 2024, the applicant must:

  • Hold a doctoral degree (PhD, DPhil, MD, DDS, DVM, etc.)
  • Hold a full-time postdoctoral position at an eligible institution (see FAQs), or an institution that has obtained eligibility prior to the closing of the application period, in one of New York City’s five boroughs
  • Possess no more than three (3) years* of cumulative postdoctoral experience
  • Conduct research in Neuroscience or one of its sub-disciplines while they hold the Leon Levy Scholarships
  • Be able to meet at least one of the following designated criteria at the time of appointment: be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. permanent resident (holder of a Permanent Resident Card); holder of J-1 Research Scholar status or an H-1B Temporary Employee Status visa valid for the full tenure of the Scholarship; an individual granted deferred action status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program; Indigenous individual exercising rights associated with the Jay Treaty of 1794; Individual granted Temporary Protected Status; Asylee; or Refugee. Conditional Visas will be considered.

*Exceptions to this time limit will be considered upon a detailed written submission from the applicant received by the New York Academy of Sciences by Friday, November 17, 2023. For more information, please contact us at leonlevy@nyas.org prior to starting your application. We strongly encourage candidates requiring this exception to contact us as early as possible during the application period.

There is no upper limit on the number of applicants per institution or per laboratory. Previous recipients of a Leon Levy Fellowship are not eligible to apply.

Applications by Underrepresented Populations in STEM

In spite of tremendous advancements in scientific research, information, and education, opportunities are still not equally available to all. Women, persons with disabilities, and individuals identifying as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) and other groups continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields1,2. As such, the Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience Program strongly encourages applications from individuals within these demographic categories.

1Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/12984
2Pew Research Center, January 2018. “Women and Men in STEM Often at Odds Over Workplace Equity”

Application Instructions

Application Form

Required information includes the applicant’s name, title, terminal degree, email address, phone number, and sub-disciplinary category within the field of neuroscience, as well as the name, title, and contact information of the applicant’s proposed Research Advisor (i.e. Principal Investigator (P.I.), the leader of the laboratory in which the applicant is/will be employed and perform the proposed research), the name and contact information for three potential mentors, and the start date of the applicant’s first postdoctoral position.

Disciplinary Categories

1. Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience

2. Systems Neuroscience

3. Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience

4. Computational Neuroscience

5. Translational & Clinical Neuroscience

6. Other (applicant will be asked to provide brief description)

Curriculum Vitae

Applicants are required to submit a CV that includes:

  • Applicant name, current institution(s), and position title
  • Education and training, including doctoral and prior postdoctoral training, with names of previous research advisor(s)/mentor(s)
  • Employment history
  • Honors and awards
  • Peer-reviewed publications from their entire research career
  • Patents and patent applications, if applicable
  • Research grants where the applicant is named as PI or Co-I (NSF fellowship or NIH NRSA, training supplements, foundation grants, etc.)
  • Scientific leadership (e.g. any significant roles in the greater academic community, including major editorial responsibilities, service on external committees, conference organization, technology licensing or company start-up, public outreach activities, and institutional administrative responsibilities such as departmental or student committee)
  • Invited talks and lectures, if applicable
Research Proposal

The Research Proposal (maximum 1400 words, excluding references) should be accessible to another scientist working in any sub-field of neuroscience and include:

  • Background & Significance
    Provide the rationale for the proposed research and explain any terms or information that may not be obvious to a neuroscientist outside of the applicant’s sub-field.
  • Aims
    Describe the main goals of the proposed research project and a tentative timetable by which the applicant expects to meet those goals. The Aims should be ambitious but achievable. We are particularly interested in innovative proposals that have the potential to break new ground.
  • Research Plan
    Applicants must present a clearly articulated plan of study or research. This should clearly link to the identified Aims and be achievable within three years. If any specialized equipment, reagents, etc. are required for the Research Plan, indicate if the applicant has access and if not, how and when that will be obtained.
  • Preliminary Results (not required)
    Describe any preliminary work and results regarding the proposed project, if available, at the time of this application submission. Clarify if these are already published or if they are unpublished findings, and if the preliminary work was done by the applicant or by someone else.
  • Future Directions and Impact
    Include a description of how the applicant sees the proposed research project progressing in the future. Applicants need not plan to continue the particular project after the duration of the Scholarship, but they should articulate what the next steps of the project would be. Describe the impact of the work outlined in the Research Plan, on the applicant’s field, on patient health, and/or wider society.
Professional Service and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

Applicants are required to submit an open-ended statement (maximum of 500 words) describing their outreach activities and/or professional service. Where possible, the applicants should focus on activities and services related to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the scientific community. Topics to discuss include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Teaching and Mentoring: Commitment to teaching and mentoring students, especially those of broadly diverse demographics and/or social backgrounds;
  • Collaboration and Leadership: Involvement or leadership in committees, task force groups, professional societies, and organizations;
  • Service, Engagement, and/or Outreach: A record of community engagement or outreach activities (e.g. volunteer activities, communicating science to the public, etc.);
  • Research: Current and/or planned research relevant to underserved populations or inequalities, or issues relevant to DEI, such as race, gender, sexuality, health disparities, human rights, educational access, ability, etc.
Career Development Plan

Description (maximum of 500 words) of the applicant’s short and long-term professional goals, identification of specific pathways or experiences necessary to achieve those goals, and an explanation of how the Leon Levy Scholarship Program will enhance the applicant’s ability to achieve the goals.

Letters of Support

Applicants are required to nominate three (3) individuals to submit a confidential Letter of Support. Letters of support will be electronically requested and submitted via the web portal to ensure confidentiality.

The letters of support should come from:

  •  Proposed Research Advisor (1 letter). This letter should detail the applicant’s strong record of significant scientific contributions and their promise of sustained or accelerated progress in the future. The letter should also stipulate that the applicant has the necessary institutional support and approval to conduct the proposed research if granted the Scholarship. The Research Advisor must stipulate that they agree to support the applicant and research project for the full duration of the Scholarship.
  • Other recommenders, including previous advisors, collaborators, etc. (2 letters). This is a standard letter of recommendation speaking to the candidate’s qualifications and previous accomplishments. We recommend that applicants petition Letters of Support from individuals who are experts in the applicant’s discipline, field, or sub-field and who are intimately familiar with the applicant’s most significant and important research contributions during their scientific career.

Letter writers will also be required to answer a brief, multiple-choice questionnaire upon uploading their Letter of Support, to ensure both qualitative and quantitative assessment of each applicant.

Scholarship Details

Stipend & Benefits

The Leon Levy Scholarship is a three (3)-year award. Scholars will receive: 

  • Annual stipend equals 125% of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral rate, according to the postdoctoral year
  • Fringe benefits at the host institution’s rate for postdoctoral Scholars
  • US$2,000 computer allowance as a one-time award
  • Annual supplement of up to US$10,000 to support care costs (e.g. dependent care)
  • Indirect support to the host institution will be allowed at the standard published rate if less than 20% and capped at 20%.
  • 3-year Membership to the New York Academy of Sciences
  • Participation in a structured Mentorship Program for Leon Levy Scholars
  • Access to leadership and skills-building workshops through the New York Academy of Sciences
  • Access to the community of past and present Leon Levy Scholars and Fellows
  • Grant writing support

Duration

  • Each Scholar is expected to begin the 36-month Scholarship in September of the year in which the award is received (some remote orientation may begin before September/before arrival). Scholarships may be deferred or delayed only as an exception and will require prior approval of the Academy, the Leon Levy Foundation, and the applicant’s host institution.
  • Should a Scholar depart the institution in which they were awarded the LLSN, if the new institution is eligible, the Scholarship may be transferred, otherwise, it will conclude. 

Scholar Responsibilities

1. Attend New Scholar Orientation

2. Participate in the annual Leon Levy Symposium

3. Attend quarterly virtual Group Seminars; Scholars are required to present a research update at a Group Seminar at least once during their tenure

4. Participate in Mentorship and Career Development activities (detailed below)

5. Engage in Scholarship-related media activities and inquiries (e.g., video interviews, magazine profile interviews, etc.) as requested

6. Provide an Annual Report describing research and career progress for each year of their tenure; the Final Report must summarize the research project and state final conclusions. Report templates will be provided.

Mentorship Program

All Scholars will be required to participate in a structured Mentorship Program for the duration of their Scholarship. Scholars will receive their primary scientific mentorship from their Research Advisor. In addition, Scholars will benefit from advice and mentorship from a senior scientist, referred to as a Mentor, not directly involved in the Scholars’ research. Scholars will have access to both their scientific Research Advisor and a Mentor as part of the Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience Program.

An essential feature of the Scholarship program will be this opportunity to learn from and be mentored by distinguished leaders across scientific fields. In this capacity, Mentors will provide guidance on the Scholars’ postdoctoral research and in their pursuit of an independent PI role or other scientific career paths. Each Mentor will have a successful track record of mentorship and will be paired with a scholar based on mutual scientific interests.

Once Scholars are chosen, they will work with the program team to find an appropriate senior Mentor from the Academy’s membership. Once matched, the mentoring pairs are expected to meet a minimum of once every other month (in person or virtual) and will have access to prompts and activities to help guide conversations if appropriate. Mentoring pairs will complete an expectations worksheet to help define how the pair will work together. All pairs will be expected to abide by the Academy’s Code of Conduct.

Quarterly Group Seminars

Each quarter, the Academy will host a meeting of all current Scholars to discuss ideas, share research updates and success stories, identify potential collaborations and help solve problems. These seminars will include Scholar presentations, interactive discussions, and informal networking. The Academy will work closely with the Scholars – through conversations, surveys, and other methods – to design programming that meets the short-term and long-term scientific and career needs of the Scholars.

Leadership and Skills Building Opportunities

All Scholars will receive a professional membership to the Academy, providing them with free and reduced-cost access to career development events, courses, and workshops. There is no requirement for Scholars to participate.  Leadership and Skills building opportunities include topics such as science communication, grant writing, Inclusive Leadership, teaching and pedagogy, and ethics. Scholars will also receive a newsletter and regular updates about these opportunities.

Leon Levy Community

The Academy maintains a robust virtual community for scientists via Slack. Scholars will have the opportunity to join our Slack community and have dedicated channels to network with other Scholars.

Membership to the New York Academy of Sciences

All Scholars will receive a (3) three-year membership to the Academy. Membership provides Scholars with access to our Global Member Directory, a deep archive of digital content, and access to free or significantly discounted registrations for over 100 symposia, webinars, and conferences annually.

Grant Writing Support, as needed

Scholars will have access to a grant writing professional who can consult with them on a grant and provide them with guidance.

FAQs

As of 2022, the Leon Levy Fellowship is independently administered by the New York Academy of Sciences as the Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience (LLSN). These scholarships aim to promote groundbreaking neuroscience research in the five boroughs of New York City. 

Learn about Leon Levy Alumni

What are the Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience?

The Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience (LLSN) aim to promote groundbreaking neuroscience research in the five boroughs of New York City by supporting the most innovative young researchers at a critical stage of their careers—their postdoctoral research—as they develop new ideas and directions that will help establish them as independent neuroscientists. The Scholarship is a three (3)-year award. Scholars will receive an annual stipend equal to 125% of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral rate, according to postdoctoral year, a USD 2,000 one-time computer allowance, and an annual care supplement.

Who is eligible to apply?

By the time of appointment on September 1, 2024, the applicant must:

  • Hold a doctoral degree (PhD, DPhil, MD, DDS, DVM, etc.)
  • Hold a full-time postdoctoral position at an eligible institution, or an institution that has obtained eligibility prior to the closing of the application period, in one of New York City’s five boroughs
  • Possess no more than three (3) years* of cumulative postdoctoral experience
  • Conduct research in Neuroscience or one of its sub-disciplines while they hold the Leon Levy Scholarships
  • Be able to meet at least one of the following designated criteria at the time of appointment: be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. permanent resident (holder of a Permanent Resident Card); holder of J-1 Research Scholar status or an H-1B Temporary Employee Status visa valid for the full tenure of the Scholarship; an individual granted deferred action status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program; Indigenous individual exercising rights associated with the Jay Treaty of 1794; Individual granted Temporary Protected Status; Asylee; or Refugee. Conditional Visas will be considered.

*Exceptions to this time limit will be considered upon a detailed written submission from the applicant received by the New York Academy of Sciences by Friday, November 17, 2023. For more information, please contact us at leonlevy@nyas.org prior to starting your application. We strongly encourage candidates requiring this exception to contact us as early as possible during the application period.

There is no upper limit on the number of applicants per institution or per laboratory. Previous recipients of a Leon Levy Fellowship are not eligible to apply.

What are the important dates?

All materials must be submitted by December 13, 2023. Scholarships for the 2024 cohort of Scholars will run from September 1, 2024 to August 31, 2027.

October 4, 2023: Applications open for Leon Levy Scholarships

December 13, 2023: Applications close for Leon Levy Scholarships

May 2024: All applicants notified to the outcome of their application

June 14, 2024: Leon Levy Scholars publicly announced

September 1, 2024: Leon Levy Scholarships period begins (all Scholars expected to be in residence in NYC by this date)

October 2024: The nomination period for the Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience opens.

August 2025: Scholars’ Annual Report due.

Which institutions are eligible?

Applicants must be employed by one of the institutions listed below at the time the Scholarship begins, and should have the support of their proposed Research Advisor at the time of application. Institutions not listed here may contact leonlevy@nyas.org to request inclusion on the list of eligible employing institutions.

  • Adelphi University
  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Barnard College
  • City College of New York
  • CUNY Brooklyn College
  • CUNY College of Staten Island
  • CUNY Graduate Center
  • CUNY Hunter College
  • CUNY Lehman College
  • CUNY School of Medicine
  • CUNY Queens College
  • Columbia University
  • Columbia University Irving Medical Center
  • Cooper Union
  • Cornell Tech
  • The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
  • Flatiron Institute
  • Fordham University
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Long Island University
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • New York Blood Center
  • New York University
  • NYU Langone Health
  • Pace University
  • The Rockefeller University
  • SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Weill Cornell Medicine
What are the terms of appointment, scholarship benefits, and duration?
  • Terms of Appointment
    • Selected Scholars must dedicate 100% of research time to scientific research projects unless they have a clinical obligation, in which case, they may spend up to 20% of the time on clinical obligations.
  • Stipend & Benefits
    • Annual stipend equals 125% of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral rate, according to the postdoctoral year
    • Fringe benefits at the host institution’s rate for postdoctoral Scholars
    • US$2,000 computer allowance as a one-time award
    • Annual supplement of up to US$10,000 to support care costs (e.g. dependent care)
    • Indirect support to the host institution will be allowed at the standard published rate if less than 20% and capped at 20%.
    • 3-year Membership to the New York Academy of Sciences
    • Participation in a structured Mentorship Program for Leon Levy Scholars
    • Access to leadership and skills-building workshops through the New York Academy of Sciences
    • Access to the community of past and present Leon Levy Scholars and Fellows
    • Grant writing support
  • Duration
    • Each Scholar is expected to begin the 36-month Scholarship in September of the year in which the award is received (some remote orientation may begin before September/before arrival). Scholarships may be deferred or delayed only as an exception and will require prior approval of the Academy, the Leon Levy Foundation, and the applicant’s host institution.
    • Should a Scholar depart the institution in which they were awarded the LLSN, if the new institution is eligible, the Scholarship may be transferred, otherwise, it will conclude.
What are the Scholar’s Responsibilities?

Scholar Responsibilities:

1. Attend New Scholar Orientation.

2. Participate in the annual Leon Levy Symposium.

3. Attend quarterly virtual Group Seminars; Scholars are required to present a research update at a Group Seminar at least once during their tenure.

4. Participate in Mentorship and Career Development activities (detailed below).

5. Engage in Scholarship-related media activities and inquiries (e.g., video interviews, magazine profile interviews, etc.) as requested.

6. Provide an Annual Report describing research and career progress for each year of their tenure; the Final Report must summarize the research project and state final conclusions. Report templates will be provided.

What is the Mentorship Program?

All Scholars will be required to participate in a structured Mentorship Program in Neuroscience Research for the duration of their Scholarship. Scholars will receive their primary scientific mentorship from their Research Advisor. In addition, however, Scholars can greatly benefit from advice and mentorship from a senior scientist who is not directly involved in the Scholars’ research; here we refer to this person as the Mentor. In the Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience program, Scholars will have access to both their scientific Research Advisor and a Mentor.

An essential feature of the Scholarship program will be this opportunity to learn from and be mentored by distinguished leaders across scientific fields. In this capacity, Mentors will provide guidance on the Scholars’ postdoctoral research and in their pursuit of an independent PI role or other scientific career paths. Each Mentor will have a successful track record of mentorship and will be paired with a scholar based on mutual scientific interests.

Once Scholars are chosen, they will work with the program team to find an appropriate senior Mentor from the Academy’s membership. Once matched, the mentoring pairs are expected to meet a minimum of once every other month (in person or virtual) and will have access to prompts and activities to help guide conversations if appropriate. Mentoring pairs will complete an expectations worksheet to help define how the pair will work together. All pairs will be expected to abide by the Academy’s Code of Conduct.

How does this program support Career Development?
  • Virtual Group Seminars
    • Each quarter, the Academy will host a meeting of all current Scholars to discuss ideas, share research updates and success stories, identify potential collaborations and help solve problems. These seminars will include Scholar presentations, interactive discussions, and informal networking. The Academy will work closely with the Scholars – through conversations, surveys, and other methods – to design programming that meets the short-term and long-term scientific and career needs of the Scholars.
  • Leadership and Skills Building Opportunities
    • All Scholars will receive a professional membership to the Academy, providing them with free and reduced-cost access to career development events, courses, and workshops. There is no requirement for Scholars to participate. Leadership and Skills building opportunities include topics such as science communication, grant writing, Inclusive Leadership, teaching and pedagogy, and ethics. Scholars will also receive a newsletter and regular updates about these opportunities.
  • Leon Levy Community
    • The Academy maintains a robust virtual community for scientists via Slack. Scholars will have the opportunity to join our Slack community and have dedicated channels to network with other Scholars.
  • Membership to the New York Academy of Sciences
    • All Scholars will receive a (3) three-year membership to the Academy. Membership provides Scholars with access to our Global Member Directory, a deep archive of digital content, and access to free or significantly discounted registrations for over 100 symposia, webinars, and conferences annually.
  • Grant Writing Support, as needed
    • Scholars will have access to a grant writing professional who can consult with them on a grant and provide them with guidance.
Staff
Meghan Groome, PhD
Senior Vice President, Education
A woman smiles for the camera.
Sonya Dougal, PhD
Senior Vice President, Awards and Scientific Programs
Barbara Knappmeyer, PhD
Associate Director, Fellowships
Emily Kim, PhD
Program Manager, Awards
Zamara Choudhary, PhD
Program Manager, Education

Meet the Scholars

2024 | 2023 | Alumni

Tiphaine Bailly

The Rockefeller University

Ernesto Griego

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Deepak Kaji

Deepak Kaji

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Jack Major

NYU Langone Health

Brigid Maloney

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Amin Nejatbakhsh

Flatiron Institute

Broc Pagni

NYU Langone Health

Adithya Rajagopalan

New York University

Genelle Rankin

The Rockefeller University

Thiago Arzua

Columbia University

Ana Badimon

The Rockefeller University

Shai Berman

Columbia University

Cynthia Chai

Columbia University

Andrew Chang

New York University

Jonathan Gill

New York University Langone Health

Kelvin Q. Laracuente

New York University, Langone Medical Center

Pablo Lituma

Weill Cornell Medicine

Brian Sweis

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Geoffrey Terral

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

The Artificial Intelligence and Society Fellowship Program

Overview
The logo for The New York Academy of Sciences.

In response to the urgent need to incorporate ethical and humanistic principles into the development and application of artificial intelligence (AI), the New York Academy of Sciences offers a new AI and Society post-doctoral fellowship program, in partnership with Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

Merging technical AI research with perspectives from the social sciences and humanities, the goal of the program is the development of multidisciplinary scholars more holistically prepared to inform the future use of AI in society for the benefit of humankind.

Promising young researchers from disciplines spanning computer science, the social sciences, and the humanities will be recruited to participate in a curated research program. Fellows’ time will be divided between New York City, Arizona State University, and on-site internships, working alongside seasoned researchers who are well-versed in academia, industry, or policy work.

Program Requirements

To qualify, candidates must have a PhD in a relevant field such as computer science, artificial intelligence, psychology, philosophy, sociology, ethics, law (JD), or a related field. Strong research background and expertise in the field of AI and Society, including publications in leading academic journals, is recommended.

Arizona State University
The logo for The New York Academy of Sciences.

Applications are now closed.

2023 Fellows

2023 Fellows

Akuadasuo Ezenyilimba, PhD

2023 Fellow

Akuadasuo Ezenyilimba is a recent Human Systems Engineering PhD graduate. Her academic background consists of a Bachelor’s in Psychology, Master’s in Applied Psychology, and a Master’s in Human Systems Engineering, Her research interest include human computer interaction, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and TBI rehabilitation. She is looking forward to beginning her post doctoral work focused on Artificial Intelligence in Society with Arizona State University and the New York Academy of Sciences.

Nitin Verma, PhD

2023 Fellow

Nitin is an incoming Postdoctoral Research Scholar at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society in collaboration with the New York Academy of Sciences. His doctoral dissertation research at the School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin investigated the notion of public trust in video with the emergence of deepfake and allied generative-AI technologies. Nitin’s broader research interests include the interrelationship between society (individuals, platforms, governments, and other stakeholders) and AI, the role of the photographic record in shaping history, and in the deep connection between human curiosity and the continuing evolution of the scientific method.

Marjorie Xie, PhD

2023 Fellow

Dr. Marjorie Xie serves as an AI & Society fellow at the New York Academy of Sciences, joint with Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society. Marjorie’s work combines AI, mental health, and education. Her goals are: 1) Develop technology to enable social-emotional learning and to facilitate collaborative interpersonal relationships; 2) Develop systems for effective AI governance. As an AI researcher, engineer, and social entrepreneur, she hopes to collaborate with mental health professionals, educators, business leaders, and social media experts. Prior to serving as a fellow, Marjorie interned at Basis Research Institute, building AI tools for reasoning about collaborative intelligence in animals. Marjorie completed her Ph.D. in Neurobiology & Behavior at Columbia University, where she used AI tools to build interpretable models of neural systems in the brain. Before her PhD, she designed and completed an independent major in computational neuroscience at Princeton University, where she also pursued intensive studies in philosophy, literature, and history. Born in France and raised in Seattle, Washington by Chinese immigrants, she currently lives and serves as a resident fellow at the International House in New York City.

Upcoming Events
In-person Event
Sep 28, 2023
28  Sep

Ethical Implications in the Development of AI

An AI researcher poses for the camera.

Published November 21, 2023

By Nick Fetty

Betty Li Hou, a Ph.D. student in computer science at the New York University Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, presented her lecture “AI Alignment Through a Societal Lens” on November 9 at The New York Academy of Sciences.

Seminar attendees included the 2023 cohort of the Academy’s AI and Society post-doctoral fellowship program (a collaboration with Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society), who asked questions and engaged in a dialog throughout the talk. Hou’s hour-long presentation examined the ethical impacts that AI systems can have on societies, and how machine learning, philosophy, sociology, and law should all come together in the development of these systems.

“AI doesn’t exist independently from these other disciplines and so AI research in many ways needs to consider these dimensions, otherwise we’re only looking at one piece of the picture,” said Hou.

Hou’s research aims to capture the broader societal dynamics and issues surrounding the so-called ‘alignment problem,’ a term coined by author and researcher Brian Christian in his 2020 book of the same name. The alignment problem aims to ensure that AI systems pursue goals that match human values and interests, while trying to avoid unintended or undesirable outcomes.

Developing Ethical AI Systems

As values and interests vary across (and even within) countries and cultures, researchers are nonetheless struggling to develop ethical AI systems that transcend these differences and serve societies in a beneficial way. When there isn’t a clear guide for developing ethical AI systems, one of the key questions from Hou’s research becomes apparent: What values are implicitly/explicitly encoded in products?

“I think there are a lot of problems and risks that we need to sort through before extracting benefits from AI,” said Hou. “But I also see so many ways AI provides potential benefits, anything from helping with environmental issues to detecting harmful content online to helping businesses operate more efficiently. Even using AI for complex medical tasks like radiology.”

Social media content moderation is one area where AI algorithms have shown potential for serving society in a positive way. For example, on YouTube, 90% of videos that are reviewed are initially flagged by AI algorithms seeking to spot copyrighted material or other content that violates YouTube’s terms of service.

Hou, whose current work is also supported by a DeepMind Ph.D. Scholarship and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, previously served as a Hackworth Fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics as an undergraduate studying computer science and engineering at Santa Clara University. She closed her recent lecture by reemphasizing the importance of interdisciplinary research and collaboration in the development of AI systems that adequately serve society going forward.

“Computer scientists need to look beyond their field when answering certain ethical and societal issues around AI,” Hou said. “Interdisciplinary collaboration is absolutely necessary.”

Lost in Translation: The Underrecognized Challenges of Non-Native Postdocs in the English Scientific Wonderland

A postdoc presents his researcher and poster to conference attendees.

Scientific communication has transcended borders, yet scientists often encounter significant language barriers.

By Andrew Chang

Andrew Chang explaining his research to colleagues at the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition in Tokyo in August 2023. One is from Hong Kong, previously trained in UK, Germany, and Taiwan, now a postdoc in Japan. And the other is from Korea, previously trained in Germany, the UK, and the US, currently a postdoc in Germany. We communicated and chatted in English. Photo credit: ICMPC17 (https://jsmpc.org/ICMPC17/.)

Scientific communication has transcended borders, yet scientists often encounter significant language barriers.

English, hailed as the universal standard language of science, grants a significant advantage to native speakers. For non-native scientists, bridging this gap requires extensive preparation, and this journey can be isolating and anxiety-inducing, particularly for early-career postdoctoral researchers.

As a Taiwanese, Mandarin was my sole mode of communication until I embarked on my Ph.D. journey in Canada. While I was in Taiwan, English had only served as a tool for test-taking and reading imported textbooks.

My first semester in Canada proved to be an all-encompassing experience. Beyond adapting to English-based coursework, acclimatizing to the rapid and colloquial conversations of my peers presented a considerable hurdle. I had to familiarize myself with the natural flow of conversations, replete with slang and cultural references I had never encountered in a classroom in Taiwan.

Moreover, I lacked common ground with most Canadians/Americans, as I wasn’t familiar with their childhood pop culture, trivial facts, or internet memes. Despite being known for my sense of humor among my peers in Taiwan, I felt rather dull, unable to communicate beyond the realm of my science.

A Journey of Improved English Proficency

I vividly recall one evening when I was with fellow new graduate students. We were playing a party board game, and we drew a card that required my teammate and me to chat non-stop for a minute. Everyone anticipated the challenge it posed to me. I wore a reassuring smile, unwilling to disrupt the jovial atmosphere.

However, when the timer began, my partner launched into a rapid, uninterrupted monologue, denying me the opportunity to contribute. Although I knew she did it out of kindness to spare me embarrassment, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated and excluded. It seemed that overcoming the language barrier was an insurmountable expectation, and perhaps people would never recognize my talent or charisma because I couldn’t adequately express myself in a foreign language.

Over the past decade, my English proficiency has significantly improved since the start of my Ph.D. I’ve also assimilated Canadian/American social norms, enabling me to engage with my peers while maintaining my individuality.

Now, tools like ChatGPT make proofreading and editing, including this very article, much more manageable. However, while I can attain good results to a certain extent, the process remains time-consuming and mentally taxing. It can even lead to anxiety: If I fail to make a lasting impression within the first 30 seconds on someone I meet at a conference, particularly a leading scientist in my field, using highly fluent language to express my ideas, I risk losing their interest and potentially missing out on valuable career opportunities.

Diving into the Research

It wasn’t until recently that I stumbled upon a study surveying over 900 scientists, which revealed that many early-career non-native English-speaking scientists encounter similar obstacles. Non-native speakers spend approximately 91% more time reading a paper, 51% more time writing a paper, are 2.6 times more likely to face language-related rejection, encounter 12.5 times more language-related revisions, and invest 94% more time in preparing and practicing presentations.

Also, unfortunately, it appears that overcoming language barriers has largely been left to the efforts of non-native English speakers (Amano et al., 2023). These statistics, based on academia, likely underestimate the extent of the challenges, as many promising scientists may have already abandoned their research pursuits due to language-related frustration (Ortega, 2020).

One might argue that language barriers should not be considered excuses since individuals willingly choose to pursue scientific careers in the United States. However, the reality is that when one opts to become a scientist, they inevitably commit to English as their primary professional language throughout their career.

Given the United States’ predominant position across various scientific disciplines and the fact that all top-tier scientific journals, including Science and Nature, are published exclusively in English, achieving a successful scientific career within the current academic landscape without proficiency in English is an extremely daunting, if not impossible, task. (Note: Perhaps the sole exception is Nobel laureate Tu Youyou.) Scientific findings published in non-English journals are often, if not always, overlooked (Amano et al., 2016).

Indeed, choosing to pursue a postdoctoral position in a foreign country is a deliberate decision, driven by the belief that it will benefit our careers. This choice entails willingly embracing the additional challenges of overcoming not only language barriers but also navigating various other obstacles, including cultural differences (where I’m expected to network in an American way, likely with plenty of socializing over drinks), geographical distances from family and friends (with round-trip flights between New York and Taipei consistently exceeding $2,000, and a 12-hour time difference), dealing with laws, costs, and bureaucracy for obtaining and maintaining a visa and adapting to different daily routines (such as handling taxes, accessing healthcare, and obtaining a driver’s license). However, as international scientists make greater sacrifices, the tolerance for failure diminishes, and it can evolve into unbearable stress.

Creating a Welcoming Environment for Non-Native Speakers

It is imperative for academia to recognize and address this issue to ensure that scientific progress remains unbiased and uninhibited by language barriers. Losing potential talent and dedicated international scientists due to these barriers is not only a disservice to individuals but also compromises the quality of scientific inquiry, potentially introducing biases rooted in the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of scientists.

Consider my research field of cognitive neuroscience of audition, which explores how the human brain perceives speech and music. Without contributions from international scientists, understanding the universal and culturally specific mechanisms underlying these perceptions would be severely limited and biased.

I extend my heartfelt appreciation to all my colleagues who have valued my contributions as a scientist and treated me equally, regardless of my occasionally peculiar English phrasing and my penchant for using amusing words. My hope is that other international scientists, especially those in the early stages of their careers, receive the support they need as they diligently work to overcome their barriers.

Ultimately, I aspire to witness a future in which language differences evolve from barriers into diverse perspectives that benefit the scientific community as a whole.

References

  1. Amano T, et al. (2016). Languages are still a major barrier to global science. PLOS Biology, 14(12), e2000933. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2000933
  2. Amano T, et al. (2023). The manifold costs of being a non-native English speaker in science. PLOS Biology 21(7): e3002184. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3002184
  3. Henrich J, et al. (2010). Most people are not WEIRD. Nature, 466(7302), 29-29. https://doi.org/10.1038/466029a
  4. Ortega RP. (2020). Science’s English dominance hinders diversity—but the community can work toward change. Science. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.caredit.abf4697

Andrew Chang, PhD ,is a 2023 Leon Levy Scholar in Neuroscience.

This piece was originally published on the National Postdoctoral Association member blog as part of 2023 National Postdoc Appreciation Week. Current Academy Members can receive a 20% discount on a National Postdoctoral Association postdoc individual membership by emailing customerservice@nyas.org and requesting the NPA membership discount code

Supporting International Postdocs: “How Can We Make This Place More Like Home?”

Every international postdoc has a multitude of interests, experiences, fears and dreams. Supporting them means taking into account all of those things, as opposed to just focusing on their research project.

By Thiago Arzua, PhD, Academy Fellow

Even after doing this countless times before, I was still nervous waiting outside my advisor’s office to talk about some experiments that did not work.

“What if they ask for more data than I have? What if I picked the wrong project?” These thoughts quickly devolve into something darker like: “Do I deserve to be here? Have I done enough?” My own internal imposter syndrome aside, my advisor’s response was comforting, “Cool, now we know that doesn’t work.” By contrast, his feedback made me realize that support is something we need.

International postdocs leave behind all of their support systems – family, friends, culture – in their home country and are often expected to adjust and start working right away. In reality, the support international scientists need is not unusual. Instead, it is something we do not realize we missed or needed until it is gone.

At the most fundamental level, supporting international postdocs looks like increasing support for all postdocs – temporary visa holders still represent a majority of postdocs in the U.S. It can be a bit of a conundrum. Being involved with science policy and advocacy for a while, a conversation with a political consultant once made that clear to me – “No matter how rational it is to fund international scientists, in some politicians’ minds, you are constituents ­– you are not voters”.

In that sense, support comes from peers, advisors, and the universities themselves fiercely advocating for their international researchers at every level. Internally and institutionally, this can also look like providing reliable advice and resources for international postdocs who need to navigate a new world of healthcare, taxes, visas, and more that people born and raised here in the United States take for granted.

At the core of this international postdoctoral account of “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” are the basic things every postdoc needs, e.g. fair salaries, good working conditions, etc. At the top of this hierarchy, there is something less tangential – something that took me a while to realize I needed.

The U-Shaped Curve of Culture Shock

There is a famous U-shaped curve used to describe the emotional states of culture shock. In it, people go from a happy honeymoon stage, then through anxiety and adjustment periods, to finally get back up to an adapted stage. I went through that whole curve at least three times since leaving Brazil; once for every career level which came with a location change.

At every stage, the excitement for science was so front and center that I would lose track of the fact that everything was culturally changing around me. During those times, the support I needed had nothing to do with scientific research, but receiving an abundance of humanity and compassion from others.

Case in point, Thanksgiving of my first year in grad school, I was, in essence, adopted by the family of another student for the week. Years later, as a postdoc in a new city, almost as a repeat, other international postdocs and I were stranded by visas or simply by the weather and decided to host a potluck Christmas. So, when the next holiday season comes up, make sure to ask the international postdocs around you if they have plans, and if not, make a point to invite them.

Do Your Part to Make International Postdocs Feel Welcome

Having spaces where international postdocs can thrive means not just helping them adjust to the U.S., but fully acknowledging and incorporating their individualities in how they work, and above all, understanding that people cannot dissociate their personality from how they do research. In my case that has sometimes looked as simple as having my peers text me when they hear some news from Brazil.

It also means having an advisor who knows I enjoy science communication and connects me to opportunities I would not find by myself. Every international postdoc contains a multitude of interests, past experiences, current fears, and future dreams. Supporting them means supporting all of those and not just a finite research project.

At the end of the day, the question “So, do you think you’ll go back home?” is always present whether in talking to people or back in my internal voice. We all have our reasons either way, but in thinking critically about how my international peers can be supported while in the U.S., I think a much better question might be “How can we make this place a little more like home?”

Thiago Arzua, PhD is a 2023 Leon Levy Scholar in Neuroscience. You can learn more about him and the Leon Levy Scholars HERE.

This piece was originally published on the National Postdoctoral Association member blog as part of 2023 National Postdoc Appreciation Week. Current Academy Student Members can receive a 20% discount on a National Postdoctoral Association postdoc individual membership by emailing customerservice@nyas.org and requesting the NPA membership discount code

Fellowships

The Leon Levy Scholarships in Neuroscience (LLSN) aim to promote groundbreaking neuroscience research in New York City. The scholarships support the most innovative young researchers during their postdoctoral research — a critical stage of their careers. 

The Artificial Intelligence and Society Fellowship Program is designed to incorporate ethical and humanistic principles into the development and application of AI. Launched by The New York Academy of Sciences in partnership with Arizona State University, its goal is to develop a new generation of multidisciplinary scholars prepared to counsel the future use of AI in society for the benefit of humankind.