June 25-26th, 2024
Mentoring and highlighting future leaders in the life & biomedical sciences

Program Schedule

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

9:30 am – 12:00 pmSymposium Session I
Carson Family Auditorium
12:00 – 1:15 pmLunch with Faculty Mentors
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Dining Room Patio
1:15 – 5:00 pmSymposium Session II
Carson Family Auditorium
4:00 – 5:00 pmKeynote Lecture
Carson Family Auditorium
5:00 – 6:00 pmReception
Kravis Research Building Roof Terrace

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

10:00 am - 11:00 amPlenary Workshop
Carson Family Auditorium
11:00 am - 12:00 pmPanel Discussion: Challenges in Academia and How to Overcome Them
Carson Family Auditorium

2024 Exceptional Scholars Keynote by Erich Jarvis

Erich D. Jarvis

Professor Head of Laboratory

Erich D. Jarvis, Ph.D., Erich Jarvis, an alumnus of The Rockefeller University, returned to campus in 2016 as a tenured professor heading the new Laboratory of Neurogenetics of Language. Dr. Jarvis investigates vocal learning in songbirds and other animals as a model for understanding spoken language in humans. He integrates computational, behavioral, physiological, and molecular techniques to explore the neural genetics of vocal learning and the evolution of this complex behavior. His research has led him to theorize that the brain pathways for vocal learning in both birds and humans likely evolved from a motor circuit common to all vertebrates. One of the Jarvis lab’s current interests is understanding mechanisms that guide the formation of neural circuits during learning.

In recent years, Dr. Jarvis’s interest in songbird learning has expanded into the parallel pursuit of genomics. As co-leader of an avian genomics consortium consisting of more than 200 scientists in 20 countries, he oversaw the sequencing of genomes from representative species of every avian order—48 genomes in all. The consortium’s findings led to an overhaul of the bird family tree and produced evidence that confirmed vocal learning evolved three time among birds: in songbirds, parrots, and hummingbirds. Subsequent analysis also identified hundreds of genes that have similarly evolved in the vocal learning circuits of vocal learning birds and humans. The changes in these genes, which are not found in the brains of close bird and primate relatives, may be responsible, when mutated, for speech disorders in humans. Dr. Jarvis has also helped to organize an international Vertebrate Genomes Project, formed with the goal of assembling high-quality genomes for all 70,000 vertebrate species on Earth.

Born and raised in New York City, Dr. Jarvis received a bachelor’s degree in biology and mathematics from Hunter College. He earned his Rockefeller doctorate in 1995 for research conducted in the laboratory of Fernando Nottebohm, where he studied genes linked to vocalization in canaries. In 1998, he joined Duke University, where he ascended to a full professorship before coming back to Rockefeller.

An Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2008, Dr. Jarvis is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award, an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, the 2015 Ernest Everett Just Award from the American Society for Cell Biology, and a 2019 NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award. He is also a member of the Hunter College Alumni Hall of Fame.