Project Title: Dissecting the role of dopamine in distinct types of novelty response
As a kid, I’d make these pamphlets for my younger siblings filled with puzzles and games to keep them occupied on long car rides. I spent hours compiling my favorite brain teasers and even longer adding illustrations to each page. My brother and sister always completed the whole set of puzzles within the first hour or so of the car ride, but seeing their excitement was always worth it. Honestly, the joy for me came from sharing my love for knowledge and logic. Then I realized there was a whole subject in school dedicated to systematically studying of the world around us – science! Later in high school I found out about the new, but growing field of neuroscience. The research questions and interdisciplinary nature of the field really resonated with me. I wanted to understand why we humans are able to think the way we do and why we’re so motivated to explore and learn. Of course it was only natural that I ended up in grad school four years later. My current project is focused on midbrain dopamine circuits and what role they play in an animal’s response to novelty. What I love about it is that it combines analysis from many different levels – behavioral, computational, and cellular. There’s still a long road ahead, but I’m excited to see where it leads!