Darcy Kelley

Darcy B. Kelley, Ph.D., is a widely acclaimed developmental neurobiologist, as well as the Harold Weintraub Professor of Biological Sciences and HHMI Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, Editor of Developmental Neurobiology, and Co-Director of the Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University. Dr. Kelley’s lab studies acoustic communication in Xenopus laevis, sex differences in production and reception of vocal signals, and the evolution off auditory and vocal circuits. 

Dr. Kelley was born and raised in New York City, has a life-long interest in drama, and attributes her change of path from medicine to science to her participation in an NSF summer program on the biological basis of behavior at Grinnell College in Iowa. From there, she received her B.A. in Psychology and Biology from Barnard College in 1970, followed by her Ph.D. from Rockefeller University with D.W. Pfaff in 1975. Kelley then completed an NIH-funded postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Fernando Nottebohm, studying the neural basis of song in canaries. Following this postdoctoral position, she held faculty positions at Rockefeller and Princeton University before joining the faculty of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. She has co-directed the Neural Systems and Behavior course at the Marine Biological Laboratory, as well as serving as a trustee thereof.

Her lab has identified a role for testicular androgens in the sexual differentiation of a vocal motor circuit in the hindbrain of Xenopus, genetic changes that underlie the evolution of vocal circuits, and developed two ex vivo preparations of the brain and larynx that “sing in the dish,” allowing for cellular and molecular analysis of the origins of sex and species differences in vocal signaling and facilitating the study of evolution of sensory and motor circuits that contribute to speciation.

Throughout her brilliant research career, Dr. Kelley has maintained a commitment to teaching and mentoring, through her own lab as well as by directing doctoral programs and undergraduate general science and upper-level neurobiology courses. On a personal note, Dr. Kelley is an engaging lecturer, phenomenal speaker, and contributed personally to my interests in developmental neurobiology.

Entry courtesy of Kat Denney


  1. https://www.hhmi.org/scientists/darcy-b-kelley
  2. https://www.biology.columbia.edu/people/kelley
  3. https://www.neurosciencephd.columbia.edu/profile/dbkelley
  4. https://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darcy_Kelley

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