What is your field of expertise and why did you choose it?
I study how the brain controls appetite and energy balance. For a long time I've been curious about the motivation and drive that we and all other animals have to eat. I want to understand what underlies the feeling you get when you know that it's time to find and eat food.
Tell us a bit about your career path.
My career path has involved a bit of exploration within neuroscience. I always wanted to be a scientist but it took me a while to discover what I’m passionate about. I started out in developmental biology, looking at how the brain is wired and the genetics underlying conditions where this wiring goes wrong. Then, for my PhD I studied how the amygdala (a brain region that controls emotions) contributes to food intake and the pleasure we get from eating food. During that time, I became fascinated by the neural circuits that control the drive to eat when our body's energy state is low. And so that's what I'm working on today.
Any advice for students interested in STEM?
I think that getting a lot of different experiences, whether it be in different areas of STEM at school/university or lab experience in different fields is important. For me, it showed me what I liked and was interested in and showed me the kinds of colleagues and mentors that I wanted to work with. More importantly, doing this also showed me the things that I didn't like!
Also, it's so vital to learn how to code for any path in STEM. I really recommend getting started early!
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Being able to fly sounds like a lot of fun.