I’m a neuroscience graduate student at the University of California, San Diego and an avid science communicator. My research centers on how brain cells and the molecules they exchange give rise to aggressive behaviors in fruit flies. They get pretty territorial over a nice piece of ripened fruit. And yes, fruit flies have brains. Though tiny, their brains contain over 100,000 neurons and I’m trying to figure out how some of these neurons connect with each other which has been a difficult and edifying experience.
Some of my most treasured moments as a scientist have been teaching others about the wonders of our world and having a laugh over a good science pun. I visit local middle and high schools to teach about principles of the brain and I frequently give tours of my lab to curious students demonstrating the tools we use to ask questions about the brain. With money from the DANA foundation, myself and a colleague made an interactive lesson plan about the electrical signals in our muscles using EMG recorders. The lesson plan and materials are free to use for local teachers.
Most recently, I’ve delved into the world of audio storytelling. I started by creating the podcast Salk Talk, profiling scientists working at the Salk institute for Biological studies, where I do my research. After winning a contest for local audio content from my local NPR station, KPBS, I started a new podcast, Rad Scientist. This podcast features the most tubular researchers of San Diego and what makes them tick and tac and toe! The first season brought in over 50,000 downloads. Season two drops January, 2018. I’m looking forward to making more science forward entertainment in the future.