Elizabeth M. C. Hillman


351 Engineering Terrace
Mail Code 8904

Tel(917) 207-0008
Fax(212) 854-8725

Elizabeth Hillman’s research focuses on the development of novel biomedical imaging and microscopy techniques that use light (optics) to capture information about the structure and function of living tissues.

Research Interests

Novel biomedical imaging and microscopy techniques using optics.

Her research to date has encompassed both the demonstration of new optical techniques and imaging paradigms, as well as studies of fundamental physiology, particularly related to the relationship between blood flow and neuronal activity in the living brain (neurovascular coupling). Hillman’s work in this area has contributed new knowledge about the cellular mechanisms and neural underpinnings of the hemodynamic signals detected in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Major technological contributions have included the development of dynamic contrast methods for small animal imaging (DyCE), the application of in-vivo meso-scale ‘wide-field optical mapping’ (WFOM) to studying neurovascular coupling, and the recent development of swept, confocally-aligned planar excitation (SCAPE) microscopy. Her teaching at Columbia has focused on advanced microscopy, biomedical imaging, and disruptive design and commercialization.

Hillman joined the faculty of Columbia University in 2006. She holds a BSc and MSc in Physics (1998) and a PhD in Medical Physics and Bioengineering (2002) from University College London, London, UK. 


  • Assistant Physicist, Department of Radiology, Mass General Hospital, 2005-2006
  • Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Martinos Center for Biomedical Engineering, Mass General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, 2003-2005
  • Welcome Trust Graduate Research Assistant, University College London, 1998-2002


  • Herbert and Florence Irving Professor at the Zuckerman Institute, Columbia University, 2020 - 
  • Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Columbia Engineering, 2017 –
  • Professor, Radiology (Physics), Columbia University, 2017 –
  • Member, Columbia Zuckerman Mind brain Behavior Institute, 2012 –
  • Kavli Institute for Brain Science, Columbia, University, 2011 –
  • Tenured Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering, Columbia Engineering, 2013 – 2017
  • Tenured Associate Professor in Radiology, Columbia University, 2013-2017
  • Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Columbia Engineering, 2011-2013
  • Associate Professor, Radiology, Columbia University, 2011-2013
  • Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Columbia Engineering, 2006-2011
  • Assistant Professor, Radiology, Columbia University, 2006-2011
  • Instructor in Radiology, Harvard, 2005-2006
  • Manager of In-vivo Spectroscopy, Argose Inc. Waltham, 2002-2003


  • Optical Society of America (OSA) (Elected Fellow 2015)
  • The International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) (Elected Fellow 2017)
  • American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) (Elected Fellow 2017)
  • Society for Neuroscience (SFN)
  • International Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism (ISCBFM)
  • American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM)
  • Society for Brain Mapping & Therapeutics (SBMT)
  • American Heart Association


  • NIH BRAIN Initiative 5U01NS094296-01  (PI Hillman)
  • SCAPE microscopy for high-speed in-vivo volumetric microscopy in behaving organisms
  • NIH R01 NS076628  (PI Hillman)
  • Imaging the neuronal and metabolic basis of resting state connectivity mapping
  • NIH R01 NS063226  (PI Hillman)
  • In-vivo optical imaging of neurovascular coupling and cerebral metabolism
  • Columbia Data Science Institute, ROADS Provost Ignition grant (co-PI Zheng)
  • Dissecting Spatiotemporal Brain Dynamics
  • Kavli Foundation pilot project grant (co-PI Behnia)
  • Tracing visual circuits in the fly brain using SCAPE: a novel, fast, whole-brain imaging technique
  • Columbia-Coulter Translational Research Partnership (PI Hillman)
  • SCAPE-Tech Pathfinder
  • Columbia University RISE Program (co-PI Lev)
  • Predicting Volcanic Eruptions Using Real-time 4D+ Microscopy of Bubble Interactions in a Solid-Liquid Mush
  • MURI, W911NF-12-1-0594 (PI Yuste)
  • Imaging how a neuron computes
  • R01HL13143801 (PI Targoff)
  • Mechanisms of second heart field development regulated by NKX genes


  • SPIE 2018 Biophotonics Technology Innovator Award, 2018
  • Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), 2017
  • Fellow, Society of Photonics in Industry and Engineering (SPIE), 2017
  • Fellow, Optical Society of America (OSA), 2015
  • Adolph Lomb Medal from the Optical Society of America (OSA) for contributions to Optics before the age of 35, 2011
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2010
  • Rodriguez Junior Faculty Award, Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 2008
  • Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Young Investigator Award, 2007
  • Wallace H Coulter Foundation Early Career Award, 2006
  • Wellcome Trust Prize Studentship (funding PhD work; stipend and research costs), 1998-2002
  • Top overall undergraduate in Physics and Astronomy, University College London, UK, 1995-1998