Where did you study before coming to Toronto: Most recently I worked in Heather Cameron’s lab at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Both the lab and the greater NIH environment were fantastic for doing a postdoc.
Currently working on: Mastering brain surgery. I’ve never done any kind of survival surgery where regions of the brain are manipulated so I’m pretty excited to learn this in order to figure out exactly what new neurons are doing.
Favorite paper: I quite like the 2012 paper by Marin-Burgin et al. from Schinder’s lab. Having spanned electrophysiology and behaviour in my graduate and postdoctoral work I’m keen to see people link functions for new neurons at these different levels. Although it’s really a physiology paper, the questions Marin-Burgin et al. asked were very relevant for a theoretical understanding of what new neurons may be capable of in the behaving animal, during memory formation for example. They showed that immature neurons are more likely to be activated by different synaptic pathways, potentially making them better at associating and responding to a broad array of experiences.
Why science? If I weren’t a scientist, I would be… I often think back to the days of competitive swimming, with practices morning and evening, almost every day of the week. It baffled me how sometimes I could feel totally wiped and yet, once I got going, could power through a 2 hour workout. And other days I’d feel rested and energized after the weekend and even though I wanted to go, my muscles simply would not. These apparent paradoxes definitely made me want to understand the factors that govern how our bodies work, the brain being the ultimate mystery.
If I wasn’t a scientist I’d probably be A) house husband with a fantastic garden, B) a photographer or somehow involved in the arts, C) somehow more involved in promoting open access to science, maybe as a professional multimillionaire blogger.
Interests outside the lab: Walking. Seriously – last week I went for a 3 hour walk around Toronto with my family, exploring neighbourhoods I hadn’t seen in over 6 years. The variety of cultures, signage, changes that occur over time has always been something I’ve loved to take in.
Favorite place in Toronto: Ghandi cuisine, 554 Queen St W. 416-504-8155