A faculty send-off: A formidable researcher and student advocate

Oct. 28, 2020

Headshot of Tantiana Pasternak, Ph.D. smiling in front of a tan background wearing a black blazer over a striped shirt and beaded necklace with short brown hair..For more than 40 years, Tatiana Pasternak, Ph.D., has produced highly respected work in her NIH-funded non-human primate research laboratory that earned her numerous honors and awards. She also elevated the profile of neuroscience at the University with her leadership roles in the Vision Science Society, where she served as president, and in the Society for Neuroscience, where she served as secretary.

During her years on the faculty, Pasternak was an advocate for the mentorship of young scientists, many of them women. For more than two decades, she taught Integrative and Systems Neuroscience, a core graduate course critical to the education and training of neuroscientists. In July 2020, Pasternak started in her new role as a scientific review officer for the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, where she continues to serve the neuroscience community.


“Dr. Pasternak was an incredible contributor to our neuroscience community and a staunch advocate for mentorship of young scientists and graduate education.”

– John Foxe, Ph.D., Director of Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience


“She seemed to exemplify more than others how scientists can be serious, rigorous, and focused while at the same time being warm and engaging humans. Knowing that people like her are in the field definitely added to my own motivation to be a neuroscientist. To this day, she is still that person, I’m still glad to know her, and neuroscience is still lucky to have her.”

– Tirin Moore, Ph.D., Professor of Neurobiology, Stanford University


“She has done all of this selflessly while also excelling in her research, running a well-funded systems neuroscience laboratory since coming to the UR in 1978… Her many other responsibilities and travels never distracted her from her commitment to our graduate students.”

– Ania Majewska, Ph.D., Director of Neuroscience Graduate Program


“She has been a cornerstone of neuroscience education and training at the University of Rochester.”

– Krishnan Padmanabhan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of NeurosciencePhoto of Tatiana Pasternak, Ph.D. outside wearing a dark brown sweater with her hair pulled back. Photo taken early in her career at U of R.


“I am extremely grateful Dr. Pasternak put together such a comprehensive and ambitious course. For even though it was difficult and challenging, I gained an impressive breadth of knowledge, and confidence to think critically and deeply about topics beyond my own research focus – a skill every student must develop."

– Shraddha Shah, Neuroscience graduate student


“Dr. Pasternak was, is, and will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in vision neuroscience research. It was inspiring simply to be in the classroom with her.”

– Luke Shaw, Neuroscience graduate student

Originally published in NEUROSCIENCE Volume 7.