NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Alumna Vanessa Ruta Named 2019 MacArthur Fellow


NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Alumna and Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Associate Professor Vanessa Ruta, PhD, of The Rockefeller University has been named a 2019 MacArthur Fellow. Often termed the ‘genius grant’, this award confers unrestricted funds to top scientists, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and other talented individuals who have shown extraordinary ingenuity and dedication in their field.

“Vanessa Ruta is a remarkably creative and accomplished scientist whose discoveries are having great impact on our understanding of the neurobiology of behavior,” said Rockefeller president Richard P. Lifton in an article from the university. “She is exceedingly deserving of this award.”

Dr. Ruta’s lab investigates the neural circuits that underlie innate and learned behaviors. She uses the fruit fly as a model organism, leveraging advanced imaging techniques to examine how the insects’ responses to odor correspond with activity in their brains. Such results are laying the foundation for understanding behavioral circuits in humans and carry implications for prevention of insect-borne diseases such as Zika or malaria.

“This work matters because we are able to gain detailed, mechanistic insight into how neural circuits change from learning or experience, or within the context of evolution to adapt to the complex and changing world around us,” says Dr. Ruta.

Dr. Ruta received the NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Award in 2012 for her work to understand differences in how the brain encodes innate (inborn) and adaptive (learned) behaviors.

NYSCF congratulates Dr. Ruta on this well-deserved recognition for her groundbreaking work!


Read more about Dr. Ruta’s work:

In Determining Disgust vs. Attraction, Timing is Everything

Dr. Vanessa Ruta Explores the Evolution of the Insect Olfactory System

NYSCF – Robertson Investigator Uncovers Evolutionary Secrets Behind Fruit Fly Mate Selection

NYSCF – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Examines How Fruit Flies Process Odors


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