Graduate school is challenging. Between navigating new coursework, new teaching responsibilities, and conducting independent research projects, it can be an overwhelming endeavor for anyone. But doing all that with a family? Is that even possible? After graduating with my bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience, I worked for a couple of years as a technician in a research lab. My wife and I wanted to start a family sooner rather than later, so when I started grad school, I had a 1-year-old daughter and a son on the way. I never get tired of the look of surprise that people give me when they find out about my family situation…
Entries by Taylor Woodward
Scientists can be creative too!
Scientists of all disciplines have pop culture ‘pet peeves.’ I’m sure physicists cringe at the rampant misinterpretation/misuse of quantum physics in movies (I’m looking at you, Ant-Man). I can almost hear the distant facepalm of a chemist each time a commercial plays that advertises ‘chemical-free’ soaps (like, all matter is technically a chemical by definition). As a neuroscientist, one of my pet peeves is the idea that people are either ‘right-brained’ or ‘left-brained,’ similar to how people favor their right or left hand…
Do scientists get bad grades?
I wasn’t accepted into grad school when I first applied during my final year of college. The emails beginning with “We’re sorry to inform you” trickled one by one into my inbox, and I spent time frantically trying to figure out my post-graduation plans, since they were previously just ‘grad school.’ Fortunately, most of these emails had good suggestions about actions to take over the next couple of years, but one piece of feedback stung a little more than the rest. One program noted that while I had spent time doing research, my science grades were ‘quite poor.’ Honestly, they weren’t wrong…
Potluck of neuroscience: Meet microglia, your brain’s National Guard
One of the first things you’ll learn about if you start studying the brain is that it is made of cells called neurons. While neuroscientists have a decent understanding about how neurons work, it turns out that at least half of the brain is actually made of non-neuronal cells called glia*. Glia, named based on the Greek word for ‘glue,’ were initially thought to be a type of connective tissue in the nervous system, acting just as scaffolding, while the neurons did all the communicating. In the last couple decades, the growing field of neuroimmunology has highlighted the importance of a certain kind of glia: microglia, the brain’s resident immune cells.
Potluck of neuroscience: Physics and charge
The more I learn about the discipline of neuroscience, the more I come to see it as the great scientific potluck of our day. While the actual meal at a potluck often seems disjointed, it allows guests to sample a wide variety of tasty foods brought by people from different culinary backgrounds. This post is… Read more »
‘Your experiment is stupid’: Mentoring in science
Science in the modern world is never done in a vacuum; every single discovery is a result of the coordinated efforts of a team of scientists working together to answer important questions. If success is to be expected, every graduate student, post-doc, and early-career professor should have a mentor or a team of mentors. In a scientific setting, this person is typically the principal investigator (PI), who directs the lab and projects happening therein. PIs and their mentees have a very interdependent relationship…
This is your DNA on drugs
In the 80’s and 90’s, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America released several public service announcement commercials, which aimed to inform the public about the dangers of drugs of abuse. The commercials, which have made a lasting impact on society and pop culture, featured a shot sequence and narration of your brain (an uncracked egg),… Read more »
What music does to your brain: A neuroscientist’s perspective
Why do we like music? Music is interwoven into almost every aspect of our lives. We hear it at the grocery store and in every single video we watch. We listen to it when we exercise, and we pay boatloads of money to go see our favorite artists in concert. We love all kinds of… Read more »
Kissing, hand holding, and somatotopic organization in the brain
Have you ever wondered why humans express affection by kissing and hand holding? As with most things in life, the more you think about it, the weirder that it seems. Here’s an interesting insight from neuroscience that is fun to think about next time you decide that you want to over-analyze your love life even… Read more »