Psychology Professor Christoph Wiedenmayer Passes Away

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Christoph WiedenmayerBwog has some sad news. Professor Christoph Wiedenmayer has passed away from a heart attack. He was a professor in the psychology department and was teaching Mind, Brain, and Behavior this semester.

We extend our condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Dr. Wiedenmayer.

This email was sent from department chair Norma Graham:

Dear Students in Professor Wiedenmayer’s Mind, Brain, and Behavior Class Psych W1010y,

I am writing you on the behalf of the psychology department with very sad news. We learned this afternoon that your teacher Prof. Christoph Wiedenmayer died of a heart attack. This is sad and shocking.

The psychology department will, of course, make substitute arrangements for the rest of the semester as soon as we can so that you can continue the rest of this course. Tomorrow, we will hold class, but no new course material will be presented. We will discuss with you the plans for the next few class periods leading up to the exam. We are hoping to also have someone from counseling services available at that time to help us all to adjust to this situation. We are planning to continue with the class as regularly scheduled. The exam will be held on April 1. The one adjustment that we plan for the moment, is that self-test #4 will be now due on Thursday, March 25.

If you have any questions or concerns, now or going forward, please let your T.A.s or Professors Lois Putnam or Trish Lindemann or me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Norma Graham
Professor and Chair
Department of Psychology



  1. jesus christ  

    this is unbelievable

  2. Sad news...  

    Professor Wiedenmayer was one of my favorite teachers and the reason I decided to major in Neuroscience. This is just unbelievable...

  3. Anonymous  

    may he rest in peace.

  4. One of the best professors  

    I ever had here... I can't believe this happened.

  5. So sad

    One of my first teachers at Columbia, an awesome guy and great teacher.

    Rest in peace.

  6. Anonymous  

    I am so incredibly saddened and shocked by this news. He was a great professor and his class still remains one of my favourites. What a tragic loss for Columbia.

  7. wow...

    Can Columbia please mourn this professor first before it starts making alternate plans for the class? RIP and "your exam will still be on April 1st" in the same breath is disrespectful and heartless.

  8. Anonymous

    He is such an amazing and influential professor at Columbia. He provoked my interest in Neuroscience and I am thankful for everything that he has done for his students. RIP

  9. Anonymous  

    I loved the way he pronouced cocaine.

  10. An  

    inadequate recognition of a great teacher and an even better man.

  11. Anonymous

    Christoph was an incredible teacher and mentor to me. I was took both of his classes, and TA'ed for his class. He helped me get into grad school. This is such a loss to the Columbia community: for his dedication to science and research, his talent for teaching, and his kind heart. He changed so many lives. He will be remembered and missed.

  12. Anonymous

    I worked with Christoph in the Psychiatric Institute for 6 years after graduating from Barnard, and he was both a wonderful, caring person and a brilliant scientist. This is an unbelievable loss for both Columbia and the scientific community as a whole. May he rest in peace.

  13. J

    I took his class and loved it- he made me realize I could actually do science. I got to know him better as a TA, and he helped me realize my dream of going to graduate school in neuroscience. His name comes up all the time in my field as an influential researcher. He will be missed.

  14. Professor  

    Wiedenmayer had an incredible knack for making complicated neurobiology accessible to intro students and non-science majors. He was one of the most organized, patient, and humble professors I've had a Columbia.

  15. Anonymous  

    He was an incredible professor that truly cared about his students. Prof. Wiedenmayer opened my eyes to neuroscience, and for that I am truly grateful. Both of the classes I took with him were two of my favorites at Columbia. He is one professor that I will never forget. Thank you Prof. Wiedenmayer for all that you shared.

  16. Anonymous

    Unexpected deaths always suck. This sucks.

  17. fellow faculty member

    A brilliant, responsable, thoughtful colleague... I feel that his students are all lucky to have had the benefit of his teaching and guidance. The comments are heartbraking and wonderful at once to read. I wish I had been in his class myself!

  18. Roman

    Christoph was always the first to come to our parties and the always the first to leave, too. And he loved punk rock and new wave. Saw some legends like the Damned, Joey Ramone and Joe Strummer with him in NYC. RIP.

    • Anonymous

      Man, I knew he was a cool guy, but into punk rock and new wave? I wish I had the pleasure of going to those concerts with him. He was one of my favorite professors. I send my condolences. May he rest in peace.

  19. Anonymous

    He was really one of the few profs I enjoyed listening to. RIP

  20. Paul

    I am still under shock and cannot believe that Christoph has passed away so quick. We were close friends since the beginning of the eighties and did a long way together. He was with me in the ups and down of life. I am so sad. Que la terre lui soit légère.

  21. Anonymous  

    Your professor died.

    We are planning to continue with the class as regularly scheduled. The exam will be held on April 1. The one adjustment that we plan for the moment, is that self-test #4 will be now due on Thursday, March 25.

    ^ Typical Columbia. So heartless.

    • mbb student  

      As a student in the class, I was very sad to hear of his death. But I also appreciate that they included information about the rest of course in the email. After reading the beginning, my first thought was "wow that is so sad" and the next was "wtf is going to happen now?" It's not heartless to answer that question; its practical. He will be sorely missed.

  22. Annette - Switzerland

    It is very touching to read a lot of emotional reactions about Christoph...
    from students and friends at Columbia and N.Y. - and now we start joining
    you - as Paul from Switzerland has already done, now I - because we are sad
    and will miss a wonderful friend.

  23. Jennifer Basil

    I am shocked and saddened by the loss of Christoph -- he was a wonderful teacher and researcher and brought a vibrance to the classroom rarely seen. My sincere sympathies go to his colleagues, students and family.


  24. Anonymous  

    Very shocking. He was one of my favorite professors at Columbia. RIP.

  25. Anonymous  

    Cristoph was still in his 40's when this happened; what a tragic and terrible event.

    I took two classes with Cristoph and had been working in his lab for nearly a year when he passed away. He was a wonderful professor and an incredible mentor; he was always attentive to what I had to say and truly cared. Unlike many other labs I worked in, in his lab I was treated as an equal, and he was always interested in teaching me new skills and giving me advice. I just saw him at his lab and had a conversation with him two weeks ago; it is unreal to me that this has happened. He will always be remembered and missed.

  26. Anonymous

    '08 grad here, certainly not a science major in the slightest, but if I ever do wind up on that path later in life, or need any justification for an interest in neuroscience, I can point to Christoph's class. By far, MBB was a favorite of mine, and Christoph made it so. He was a phenomenal lecturer and presenter, and extremely approachable and, as others have said already, truly cared about his students -- even those with no background whatsoever, never shying away from a question or conversation. Many, myself included, began Christoph's class knowing absolutely nothing of neuroscience, and left wanting to learn so much more (one of those rare times in which the core actually fulfills its goal).

    There's a real irreplaceable void here, and my deepest sympathies go out to Christoph's family.

  27. Karin

    Thank you all for your kind and wonderful words- soothing and saddening at the same time. We lost a brother and friend and godfather and son and we are hurting so much. I am happy and proud of him hearing that he was able to contribute and convey his passionate interest in science and neurobiology. He had so many incredible talents. As a zoologist he knew all about animals and drew fantastic sketches. As an avid reader he knew the literature from classics to post-modern. He was into arts and films and music and history and nature. Modest and playful with children. Caring and reliable. We miss him so much and I don't know how to go on and fill this void.
    I hope the little seeds he planted will grow and flower.
    Mungu anajua yote.
    His sister Karin

    • Student of Professor Wiedenmayer

      Karin, your brother is one of those key people in my life that have convinced me that an academic research career is the best for me. Reading over these responses, its clear that I'm not the only one! His legacy lives on through all of us who were touched by his charisma, intellect, and kindness. He was really a great and modest person. My favorite type. May he rest in peace, and may you have my condolences.

    • Daniel Tai & Aspassia Yaga

      Dear Karin:

      We received your card only today April 1 and were so shocked to learn of the sudden passing of your brother Christoph. (I don't believe I ever told you that I graduated from Columbia with my B.S. in Civil Engineering before I began dancing.)

      Aspa and I would like to offer our deepest condolences and a long-distance embrace. It was only several weeks ago that we saw Lynn here in New York and she gave us an update on you.

      We wish you, Christian, Anne-Sophie and the rest of your family strength and faith in this trying time.

      Danny + Aspa

  28. Mariana Mila Macchi

    Christoph was one of the best human beings I've ever met, and set standards for the rest of my life. I loved his sharp intelligence and his acceptance of others (even when seeing through them). And his innocence, which kept him curious. We belong to the same generation of Europeans who grew up on glam-rock and french songwriters (and yes, punk and new wave too), and felt that NYC was still the Great Adventure. Still ended up together in Damascus in the worst hotel ever, with Christoph totally cool about it. He will always be with me.

  29. Thomas, brother, Switzerland

    I havent't actually realized, what happened to my brother.
    I still wonder why?
    Not how, but why.
    Why just him, such an extraordinary human, so popular, so great, so healthy.
    I haven't found an answer yet, it will last weeks, months, even years ...
    I love you, Christoph!

  30. Ines, sister-in-law, Switzerland

    I can hardly bear looking at the picture of Christoph. It's so hard to believe and to accept that we will never meet again! That we will never eat Fondue together in wintertime and have Barbecue in the garden in summertime while discussing about a lot of topics. Christoph has been a wonderful brother-in-law. He was interested in so many things (from cooking to gardening to italian literature), so curious to know other opinions and so open-minded. He always was sincerely interested in the life of other people. And he was a fantastic uncle too! Our son loved playing and kidding together with his uncle. Only a few months ago they played together with the trains that Christoph and his brother Thomas played with in their childhood. It's so sad that Christoph will not see growing up his nephew. He could have taught him such a lot, and Dominic would have been so proud of him!
    thank you Christoph for everything you've given to us. We are very, very sad. We miss you su much and we will always love you and never forget you.
    Ines, your sister-in-law

  31. JEM- Mentee  

    I have the honor to have had Christoph Wiedenmayer as my tutor in his lab in the Psychiatry Department.
    During this time he was nothing short of an attentive, charismatic, patient and insightful mentor. I duly regret that our relationship has ended so abruptly specially since there was so much in store for future plans. He will always hold a special place in my memory and heart as the motivating fatherly-figure who received my curious mind with open arms and a warm smile. I am eternally indebted to everything that his encouraging passion has given and done for me.
    Thank you, and may you rest in peace, Christoph...

  32. Prof. Mary Justin-Temu

    It is sad to suddenly lose such a precious person like Christoph. I do not know Christoph in person, but from the description given by different people who knew him, it is true that one can not beleve that this man is not with us. Karin, his sister is my friend and I can believe that the family has comon inborn character. Let us pray so that God give all of us strenghth to overcome this sad news especially the "FAMILY".

    May the Good God rest his soul in Peace. Amen.

  33. Helen

    This is a shock. Christoph was a great friend and so intellectual. He was not only a scientist but also a philosopher and was interested in art, fashion and music. We used to go to art openings in NY and then Christoph would start a philosophical discussion about art or comment the style of the other people attending. RIP.

  34. Anika

    Such a loss. I am still reeling from the news. You will be missed and never forgotten.

  35. Giulia  

    I didn't know him until I took his class this semester in MBB. He had this very professional and sophisticated air about him, yet at the same time you knew that he was accepting of anyone and everyone and did not hesitate to help his students understand the material. He had these childish blue eyes that made him look so innocent and as if he wouldn't harm a fly. And you could tell just how passionate he was about his work by the way he taught the lectures, from evolution and animals to different parts and functions of the brain to diagnosis and scanning techniques. I learned so much from his teachings that I never thought I would, and he made neuroscience interesting and accessible for anyone taking his class. This has been a terrible week and I know it's going to be hard for me to get through the rest of the semester, but I know that Christoph would have wanted his class to keep going and keep learning. I regret not meeting with him during office hours and talking with him about the research that he was doing. It is still just shock to know that he won't ever be back teaching our class, with his little quirks and with the iclicker questions he was so fond of giving, and I'll never forget his accent. My deepest and utmost condolences go out to all of his family during this time, for I know it must be hardest for you to lose such an amazing human being that was also someone so close and endearing to you. I will always remember him and I know he is looking down on all of us, happy that he could reach out to so many people. We all miss you, in peace.

  36. IdilVice

    What you all are talking about is true. Christoph was unique indeed. I remember him smiling at all times. I was perplexed that he once asked me to design a piece of clothing for him. Him?! From a fashion designers point of view, Christoph was not an "in your face" trendy or fashion forward kind of person, yet and still he saw something in my flashy designs and wanted a piece for himself. There was this interest and curiosity in him that was very special. I hope I made a difference in his life, he made a difference in mine! I won't forget you Christoph.

    Looking at his otherwise casual conservative self. Now I am used to all kinds of people ordering clothes from a

  37. IdilVice

    What you all are talking about is true. Christoph was unique indeed. I remember him smiling at all times. I was perplexed that he once asked me to design a piece of clothing for him. Him?! From a fashion designers point of view, Christoph was not an "in your face" trendy or fashion forward kind of person, yet and still he saw something in my flashy designs and wanted a piece for himself. There was this interest and curiosity in him that was very special. I hope I made a difference in his life, he made a difference in mine! I won't forget you Christoph.

  38. Peter Moller

    I was saddened to learn about Christoph's passing. For many years, he team taught graduate level Animal Behavior with us (Hunter & Brooklyn College faculty). He was a wonderful colleague, a superb teacher, witty and knowledgable about almost anything, and boy could he smile. My thoughts and sympathies are with his family, friends and students.

  39. Frank Gomez

    Christoph was a gifted, and caring person having touched many with his kindness and caring manner. What I remember most about Christoph was his unassuming and gentle ways that made him so easily approachable. The heartfelt thoughts expressed here are a testament to the special place he holds with all who knew him! He will be missed but will live within our hearts.

  40. Klaus Zuberbuhler

    Saturday morning -- The pain keeps on coming back. How did it happen? Were you alone? And where as I? Now, it's all too late - I know - forever. So close and yet forever gone. I miss you and will miss you; your grace and nobleness, your kindness and wit. My dear friend, I would like to say goodbye to you, but I don't know how.

  41. Anonymous

    my dear christoph, gone? there is no place where you wanted to go anyway so why, what happend?...I have now found that recording of your lecture back in aprli 12. 2007...yes, we never finished that discussion either... although we just had fondue 3 weeks ago... things seemed different for you, true...a change needed to come... but w'll see you said, smiling, always are so missed....your family your friends your colleagues and students speaking of you from the bottom of their are so missed, fa

  42. Samuel ( Cameroon)

    At times great men don't live long enough to see their seeds grow to their full sizes. Life is simply a journey. we thank him for his works. We have our plans but God has a better plan. May the tragedy be easier on his family and love ones to assimilate.

  43. SK

    Thank you very much, Prof. Wiedenmayer. You will remain in my heart forever. What a wonderful and beautiful work of God - he was a great human being. I miss you.

  44. Eva Waiblinger

    I'm very sad. I knew Chris during his time in Switzerland, at the University of Zurich. Christoph's PhD got me hooked on proximate ethology, the causes of stereotypies in animals and gerbils. I did a follow-up PhD on gerbil stereotypy at the University of Zurich, and I'm at least happy that Christophs results have entered the Swiss Animal Welfare Legislation: all gerbils now need a dark nest box and an access tube to prevent stereotypic digging, and this is thanks to Chris' work (not mine). I wanted to send him copies of the new UFAW Laboratory Animal Welfare Handbook, for which I wrote the gerbil chapter and also integrated his gerbil work for spreading in the lab world and improving the housing conditions for gerbils world-wide. He has moved a lot even with his earliest scientific work, and I'm immensely grateful that he led me on my own scientific way.

  45. Chris Broennimann

    This is sad news.
    I knew Chris from secondary school in Bolligen, Switzerland. He was an enthusiastic early scientist looking for all kind of bugs and little animals to leran more about them. I also remember funny rides on self made skis in the forests around Bern. It was always nice to stay with him.
    Just recently we went in touch together again. I offer my deep condolences to his family and friends. His funeral will take place next week in Bolligen where a couple of youth friends and I will also offer our last honour to Chris.

  46. Harriet Kestenbaum

    I am so shocked and saddened to learn of Chris's passing. I feel so fortunate to have spent a whole weekend with him, his sister Karin, and niece, Sophe at my cabin at the NC coast. Coincidentally, only a few days ago I was looking at the photos of our time together and fondly reminiscing. His intellect and brilliance stood came out in a quiet, but penetrating way. My heartfelt condolences to his family and to those who knew him best.

  47. Thomas Blair

    What sad news. He was a great teacher, mentor, and friend.

  48. Thomas

    This is to inform you that the memorial for Christoph Wiedenmayer will be held on Monday, April 19th, from 5:30-7:30pm.

    The memorial will be in the Skyline Dining Room of Columbia's Faculty House.

  49. Marisa Viana

    I am so deeply sad and keep telling myself that this cannot be true. Christoph and I met in the Amazon 6 years ago and he had been a dedicated friend and the most peaceful person to be around. He provided me with comfort when I was in pain and confidence when I felt weak. I miss him and cannot find word to express my sadness. You will always be with me.

  50. Duckhyun Kim

    Christoph showed me how beautiful life can be when my life was not so beautiful. The world feels less beautiful and less gentle now that he is gone.

  51. Anna Pedersen

    I happen to be a Barnard College graduate but knew Christoph through an entirely different community than the academic arena of Barnard and Columbia. Christoph also greatly appreciated contemporary art and I met him through the art world here in NY many years ago. I did not know him extremely well, but he came to visit my studio and he owns one of my pieces. Over the years I have always enjoyed seeing him at openings, having some small discussions and catching up - he was a very genuine person and extremely kind. I am so shocked and so incredibly sad that he is no longer with us - he was a beautiful person and will clearly be missed by people from many different circles.

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