Nautilus. Issue 40: Learning. 2016
The animals of neuroscience research are an eclectic bunch, and for good reason. Different model organisms—like zebra fish larvae, C. elegans worms, fruit flies, and mice—give researchers the opportunity to answer specific questions. The first two, for example, have transparent bodies, which let scientists easily peer into their brains; the last two have eminently tweakable genomes, which allow scientists to isolate the effects of specific genes. For cognition studies, researchers have relied largely on primates and, more recently, rats, which I use in my own work. But the time is ripe for this exclusive club of research animals to accept a new, avian member: the corvid family...
Naturejobs Blog. 2015.
About a year after graduating from college, I interviewed for a lab technician position with a postdoc who was gearing up to start his own lab. Chatting in Cambridge’s hipster Area Four coffee shop on a disappointingly freezing March day, I was trying to assess what kind of lab environment I should expect. After all, a highly competitive top-notch institution such as his was notorious for producing overworked, stressed people. “I work about one hundred hours in the lab every week,” he said, “plus another twenty in the clinic. And I have a kid at home.” Noticing my incredulous expression, he added, “science does not wait.”
Despite the recent media frenzy about all things neuro, from neurolaw to neuromarketing and brain games, drinks, and apps, most neuroscience research today is conducted with the ultimate goal of curing brain diseases, which take a great economic and emotional toll on our society. Curing disease is of paramount importance, but it may turn out to be one of the simpler endeavors of future neuroscience. Understanding how the brain works might be the more complicated part. And to really understand something, you have to build it.