Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Pilot Faculty-Student Mentoring Program

The Faculty-Student Mentoring Program provides a pathway for sophomore, junior, and senior undergraduate students in Columbia College and the School of General Studies to connect with senior faculty in a variety of departments across the Arts and Sciences.  Created at the request of the students themselves, this program aims to foster personal relationships between scholars and students outside of their traditional academic roles.  The faculty mentor is not an academic advisor, tutor, or letter-writer; they are an experienced ally who can provide personal and individual guidance and support on academic, professional, and social issues, helping their mentees not only achieve but also identify or clarify their goals.

A number of opportunities for various types of advising and mentorship are available across campus.  Additional programs, groups, and opportunities that students are encouraged to explore include:

Registration for the program is currently closed, but check back for updates on how to register at the start of the semester, or email Jessica Lilien.  As a pilot program, we may contact students at the end of the semester or year to seek feedback.  Please be in touch at any time if you have questions or suggestions.

If you are a faculty member in the Arts and Sciences and would like to be a mentor, contact Jessica Lilien.

This program is a joint project of the Columbia College Student Council, the General Studies Student Council, and the Office of the Executive Vice President of Arts & Sciences.


Expectations, Responsibilities, and Guidelines 

For Students

The relationship between a mentee and a mentor is a collaborative one.  Both parties are responsible for a successful outcome - and for defining what a successful outcome looks like for them.  Mentees must be their own advocate in order to get the most out of the relationship, so every mentorship will take its own form.  These guidelines and best practices are the basis to get started.

For Faculty

Mentors might take on many different roles over the course of their relationship with a mentee: support system, advocate, guide, coach, role model, sounding board.  Being a mentor is more than just giving a little advice, and it’s not necessarily a skill that a person is born with.  Each mentor / mentee relationship is different, and will find its own structure; these guidelines provide the basics.

Faculty Mentors

The list of faculty mentors is available below.  You will be asked to choose one mentor with whom you would like to work. Sign-up is on a first-come, first-served basis, and if your first choice is unavailable, you will be contacted for another choice.

The faculty especially welcome students from outside their specialty; we strongly encourage you to choose a mentor outside of your department or your field of study. Please do not register with any faculty member in whose class you are currently enrolled, who is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in your department, or who acts in an advisory or supervisory capacity to you on any projects.


Paul Anderer

Paul Anderer’s most recent book is Kurosawa’s Rashomon: A Vanished City, a Lost Brother, and the Voice Inside His Iconic Films.  In the fall of 2012, he conducted research at Waseda University as a Tsunoda Fellow; in the spring of 2013, he was a Visiting Scholar at La Sapienza in Rome. In the summer of 2014, he advanced Columbia’s “Global Liberal Arts” Mellon Initiative by teaching a short course (on Akira Kurosawa) at Waseda University.  Professor Anderer was educated at Michigan (BA), Chicago (MA), and Yale (PhD), He joined the Columbia faculty in 1980, and has served the University as Chair of EALAC, as Director of the Keene Center, as Acting Dean of the Graduate School, and as Vice Provost for International Relations.

Susan Boynton

Susan Boynton has been teaching music history at Columbia for 17 years and is a recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award. She also taught for three years in the Summer Art and Music Humanities program in Paris. Her area of focus is medieval music (particularly chant, liturgy, monasticism, and troubadour song). Professor Boynton has written two books: Shaping a Monastic Identity: Liturgy and History at the Imperial Abbey of Farfa, 1000-1125 (2006) and Silent Music: Medieval Song and the Construction of History in Eighteenth-Century Spain (2011). She has also coedited five volumes of essays on subjects such as music and childhood in a global perspective, on young singers in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, medieval monasticism, the medieval Bible, and most recently, Resounding Images: Medieval Intersections of Art, Music, and Sound. She is codirecting a project on medieval musical iconography and digital humanities involving the exchange of graduate students between Columbia and the Sorbonne, and beginning next year will be a coeditor of the medieval art history journal Gesta.

George Chauncey

George Chauncey, Professor of History and director of the Columbia Research Initiative on the Global History of Sexualities, writes and teaches about the history of gender, sexuality, and the city, with a particular focus on American LGBTQ history.  He is the author of Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 and Why Marriage? The History Shaping Today’s Debate over Gay Equality.  Since 1993, he has participated as an expert witness in more than thirty gay rights cases, including the three marriage equality cases decided by the Supreme Court in 2013 and 2015.  He is currently completing a book on gay male culture and politics in the racially segregated gay worlds of postwar New York City.

Jeremy Dauber

Jeremy Dauber is a professor of Jewish literature and American studies, and has been at Columbia for almost twenty years. His specialties include Jewish comedy (he wrote a history of it coming out from Norton this fall) and comic books and graphic novels (he’s co-taught Columbia’s first class on the subject for six or seven years now), among other topics. He directed Columbia’s Institute of Israel and Jewish Studies for a decade, is the author of four books, and has written for (among other places) The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic. He and his wife have two small children, and so are, quite often, covered in marker and/or reading about Thomas the Tank Engine. 

Walter Frisch

Walter Frisch, the H. Harold Gumm/Harry and Albert von Tilzer Professor of Music,  is a specialist in the music of composers from the Austro-German sphere in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ranging from Schubert to Schoenberg.  He has written numerous articles and two books on Brahms, as well as publications on Schoenberg and on German modernism.  Professor Frisch served as general editor of a series of period music histories from W. W. Norton, Western Music in Context.  His volume in the series, Music in the Nineteenth Century, appeared in 2012. His book Arlen and Harburg’s Over the Rainbow appears in September 2017.  He is continuing to research the life and work of the song composer Harold Arlen.

Brad Garton

Brad Garton serves as Director of the Computer Music Center (formerly the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center). He has assisted in the establishment and development of a number of computer music studios throughout the world, and is an active contributor to the greater community of computer musicians/researchers, formerly serving on the Board of Directors of the International Computer Music Association as editor (with Robert Rowe) of the ICMA newsletter and artistic director/co-organizer of several high-profile festivals and conferences of new computer music.  His current work includes focused research on the modeling and enhancement of acoustic spaces as well as the modeling of human musical performance on various virtual "instruments." He is also the primary developer (with Dave Topper) of RTcmix, a real-time music synthesis/signal-processing language. The point of all this work is to continue to make fun new pieces of music, which he does every day.

Frank Guridy

Frank A. Guridy teaches in the Department of History and the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS). He specializes in sport history, urban history, and the history of the African Diaspora in the Americas. Some of his recent courses include: "Sport and Society in the Americas," "Black New York," and "Columbia 1968." He is the author of the award-winning Forging Diaspora: Afro-Cubans and African Americans in a World of Empire and Jim Crow and is currently at work on two book projects on sport and society in the 20th century United States.

Valerie Purdie Greenaway

Valerie Purdie Greenaway serves as Director for the Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and the Social Mind (LIRSM). She is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, core faculty for the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program (RWJ Columbia-site), and research fellow at the Institute for Research on African-American Studies (IRAAS).  Dr. Purdie Greenaway has authored numerous publications that have appeared in journals such as SciencePsychological Science, and Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. In 2013, she was awarded the Columbia University RISE (Research Initiative in Science and Engineering) award for most innovative and cutting edge research proposal for "'Cells to Society' approach to reducing racial achievement gaps: Neuro-physiologic pathways involved in stereotype threat and social psychological interventions."  Dr. Purdie Greenaway completed her doctoral work in psychology at Stanford University and her undergraduate work at Columbia University, where she lettered in varsity basketball.

Robert Harrist

Robert E. Harrist Jr., a native of Texas who got to New York as soon as he could, began his academic career intending to be a musician.  When that didn't work out, he turned to art history, first writing an M.A. thesis on Matisse (who remains his favorite artist) and then discovering Chinese art, which he has taught for the past thirty years, publishing books and articles on Chinese painting, calligraphy, gardens, clothing and other topics, and writing also about modern art - Chinese, American, and French - along the way.  He is a passionate fan of the New York City Ballet and this fall became a student in an Elementary Latin class at Columbia.

Ellie Hisama

Ellie M. Hisama came to Columbia in 2006.  She is the author of Gendering Musical Modernism: The Music of Ruth Crawford, Marion Bauer, and Miriam Gideon and co-editor of Critical Minded: New Approaches to Hip Hop Studies and Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Worlds: Innovation and Tradition in Twentieth-Century American Music. She specializes in twentieth- and twenty-first-century music, post-tonal theory, American music, popular music, gender and feminist studies, critical studies of music and race, and the social and political roles of music.  For 2017-18, she and her co-investigators Zosha Di Castri, Miya Masaoka, and Lucie Vagnerova were awarded a seed grant from the Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research for a project titled "For the Daughters of Harlem: Working in Sound," which will offer opportunities at Columbia for girls and young women of color in the community to engage with music - as composers, improvisers, sound artists, and thinkers - under the guidance of faculty, graduate students, and invited session leaders.  She has recently taught "Listening to Hip-Hop," "Feminist Listening," and "Analysis of Popular Music."

Emlyn Hughes

Emlyn Hughes is a professor in the Physics Department.  Over the years, his research has spanned the fields of particle, nuclear, atomic, and medical physics.  He earned his undergraduate degree at Stanford, and his PhD at Columbia.  He was a professor at Caltech for just over a decade before joining Columbia in 2006.  Professor Hughes is also the director of the K=1 Project: center for nuclear studies, which is presently an undergraduate-oriented center focused on raising awareness on issues of nuclear weapons, nuclear power, and nuclear proliferation.  Much of the most recent K=1 activity has focused on the U.S. nuclear weapons testing program in the Marshall Islands.

Eleanor Johnson

Eleanor Johnson specializes in late medieval English prose, poetry, and drama; medieval poetics and literary philosophy; law and literature in the Middle Ages; and vernacular theology. Her first book, Practicing Literary Theory in the Late Middle Ages: Ethics and the Mixed Form in Chaucer, Gower, Usk, and Hoccleve, was published in 2013. Her second book, Staging Contemplation: Participatory Theology in Middle English Prose, Verse, and Drama is forthcoming from University of Chicago Press in 2018. Her new research area is on medieval ideas of ecology/environmentalism. Two collections of her poetry, The Dwell and Her Many Feathered Bones were published in 2009 and 2010.

Shamus Khan

Shamus Khan is a professor and chair of sociology at Columbia University. He writes on culture, inequality, and elites. He is the author of Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s SchoolThe Practice of Research (with Dana Fisher), the forthcoming Exceptional: The Astors, the New York Elite, and the story of American Inequality and Approaches to Ethnography: Modes of Representation and Analysis in Participant Observation. He writes regularly for the popular press, such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, and Time Magazine, where he serves as a columnist. He co-founded the Underground Food Collective, a James Beard Award winning food and restaurant group in Madison, Wisconsin; he continues to be involved with and cook at these businesses. Before becoming a sociologist, he studied violin performance at conservatory. 

David Madigan

David Madigan received a bachelor’s degree in Mathematical Sciences and a Ph.D. in Statistics, both from Trinity College Dublin. He has previously worked for AT&T Inc., Soliloquy Inc., the University of Washington, Rutgers University, and SkillSoft, Inc. He has over 100 publications in such areas as Bayesian statistics, text mining, Monte Carlo methods, pharmacovigilance and probabilistic graphical models. He is an elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association and of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He recently completed a term as Editor-in-Chief of Statistical Science.

Christia Mercer

Christia Mercer is the Gustave M. Berne Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, general editor of Oxford Philosophical Concepts, and co-editor of Oxford New Histories of Philosophy, a book series devoted to making philosophy more inclusive.  Professor Mercer has published widely in the history of philosophy and is presently working on a book that brings to light the important contributions late medieval women made to the development of modern philosophy, Feeling the Way to Truth: Women, Reason, and the Development of Modern Philosophy.  Professor Mercer has become increasingly involved in activist causes with special interest in rethinking criminal justice and access to higher education. She was the first senior professor to teach in prison as part of Columbia University’s Justice-in-Education Initiative and publishes regularly on the need to make higher education more widely available and on justice reform. Among other awards, she is the recipient of Guggenheim, ACLS, and Humboldt Fellowships. She has been honored with Columbia’s two most prestigious teaching awards, the 2008 Columbia College Great Teacher Award, and the 2012 Mark van Doren Award, which annually recognizes a professor for “commitment to undergraduate instruction, as well as for humanity, devotion to truth and inspiring leadership.”

Dorothea von Mücke

Dorothea von Mücke has been teaching at Columbia since 1988.  She is the author of Virtue and the Veil of Illusion. Generic Innovation and the Pedagogical Project in Eighteenth-Century Literature; with Veronica Kelly (ed. and intro.), Body and Text in the Eighteenth Century; and The Seduction of the Occult and the Rise of the Fantastic Tale. She is also a coeditor of The New History of German Literature. Most recently she has published The Practices of the Enlightenment. Aesthetics, Authorship and the Public.

Molly Murray

Molly Murray teaches and writes about the non-dramatic literature of early modern England.  Her main scholarly interests lie at the intersection of religion, politics, and poetic form; additional interests include autobiography, intellectual history, and the history of criticism.  She is the author of a monograph, The Poetics of Conversion in Early Modern Literature: Verse and Change from Donne to Dryden, and is currently at work on a book-length study of literature and imprisonment from Wyatt to Milton.

John Pemberton

John Pemberton's research has considered various points of conjuncture between history and anthropology. His earlier work addressed issues informing colonial encounters, translation, ritual practice, and especially the political implications of cultural discourse under colonial and postcolonial conditions, with a particular focus on Indonesia. His work has explored as well the aesthetics and politics of Javanese shadow theater, and its magical practices and circuitries of voice. He has pursued related domains of machineries of the modern, ghosts of technology, and the uncanny effects of living in late-modern times.  A continuing concern remains politics and social justice.  A continuing interest remains music and matters of sound: echoes of that which lies just beyond language and strangely close to the heart. 

Caterina Pizzigoni

Caterina Pizzigoni specializes in the colonial history of Latin America. Her interests include indigenous populations and the study of sources in Nahuatl (indigenous language of central Mexico), social history, household and material culture, religion, and gender. She is the author of The Life Within. Her current research focuses on household saints in colonial Mexico.

Emmanuelle Saada

Emmanuelle Saada received her training in sociology and history in France. Her main field of research and teaching is the history of the French empire in the 19th and 20th century, with a specific interest in law. Her first book Empire’s Children: Race, Filiation and Citizenship in the French Colonies was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2012.   Professor Saada is currently writing a historiographical book reflecting on French and European colonization as a history of the present. She is also working on a project on law and violence in Algeria and France in the 19th century. Since she arrived at Columbia in 2006, Professor Saada has regularly taught "Contemporary Civilization" as well as classes about French history, the history of colonization and decolonization and French social theory both at the undergraduate and graduate level. She is currently the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the French department. 

Michael Tuts

Michael Tuts, who joined the Columbia Physics Department faculty in 1983, is an experimental particle physicist who has spent his career studying the fundamental particles and forces that make up our world.  He has worked on a number high energy physics experiments at Columbia, Cornell, Fermilab and currently the 3,000-physicist ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. The ATLAS and CMS collaborations discovered the Higgs boson in 2012, which in turn led to the awarding of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics to Higgs and Englert for the theoretical prediction of the Higgs boson, which is key to understanding particle physics. Over the years he has been an author on over 1,200 journal publications from these experiments. He is now involved in working on an upgrade to the ATLAS detector, which is expected to operate well into the 2030s. He frequently teaches introductory physics courses and was awarded a Presidential Faculty Teaching Award in 2004. Most recently he has served as the chair of the Physics Department. In his spare time, he enjoys the pleasures of attending opera and theatre performances in the city and speaking to general audiences about particle physics.

Jesús R. Velasco

Jesús R. Velasco has been professor in Spain, France, and the US. He teaches at Columbia in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Law School.  He has taught courses and seminars on "The End of the World," "The Inquisition," "Torture," and "Friendship."  He writes frequently for Spanish and US newspapers, in addition to his academic publications.  He is also a photographer (at least he thinks he is!).  Jesus is currently working on two projects: the first is called "Legal Soulscapes," and asks how is that the law became interested in the soul; the second is a photo-literary project on academic and intellectual freedom.

Rafael Yuste

Rafael Yuste is a professor of biological sciences and neuroscience at Columbia University. Yuste is interested in understanding the function and pathology of the cerebral cortex, using calcium imaging and optogenetics to “break the code” and decipher the communication between groups of neurons. Yuste has obtained many awards for his work, including those from the New York City Mayor, the Society for Neuroscience and the National Institutes of Health’s Director. He is a member of Spain’s Royal Academies of Science and Medicine. Yuste also led the researchers who proposed the Brain Activity Map, precursor to the BRAIN initiative, and also proposed the launching of a global BRAIN project and a Commission for Neuroethical Guidelines.  He was born in Madrid, where he obtained his medical degree at the Universidad Autónoma. He then joined Sydney Brenner's laboratory in Cambridge, UK. He engaged in Ph.D. study with Larry Katz in Torsten Wiesel’s laboratory at Rockefeller University and was a postdoctoral student of David Tank at Bell Labs. In 2005, he became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and co-director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Circuits. Since 2014, he has served as director of the Neurotechnology Center at Columbia.