As you well know, Columbia has a long history of Nobel Laureates, and now the presitgious group can also claim Martin Chalfie, Chair of the Biological Sciences Department, who, along with a professor from UC San Diego and a professor emeritus from BU Medical School, won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry today. 

Their Nobel nod came after they discovered the gene for the protein that makes jellyfish glow — the protein is the tricky looking thing at right. The protein, which has become famous as Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), has since been used in a myriad of important experiments looking at cellular development in neurons and cancer cells. 

Good luck trying to get into his class — this semester he is only teaching a Genetics class for Biology Ph.D. students.  The Biological Sciences Department also has a more jargon-y explanation of Chalfie’s work.