Ryan’s office is in the Biological Labs (BioLabs) Building, suite 1082. This is on the first floor of BioLabs, closest to the main entrance of the building, which is near the volleyball courtyard and flanked by rhinoceros statues (marked with the brain icon on map below). Enter these main doors and turn left to find the office. Come by for a visit! Or check my calendar to setup up an appointment.
At a young age, I fell in love with the natural world and its complexity and vastness of scale. Although I held it all in awe, from stars to living things, the subjects I did best in were biology and chemistry. So, in college I studied biochemistry. In college, two experiences helped shape my path. The first was a junior year British-Science exchange program in Glasgow, Scotland, which opened my eyes to wider world and gave me new perspectives on own life and culture. The second was a research job I took studying P-type ATPases in my senior year. Here I discovered the joy and creativity of experimental science. I also met two influential mentors who bolstered my confidence and opened doors for me. This lab also introduced me to neuroscience, as one of the proteins we studied was thought to be involved in a debilitating neurological disorder. I was amazed by the idea that a single mutation in a banal housekeeping gene could profoundly alter someone’s personality. That is when I realized I wanted to study the biology of the brain. After graduation, I spent a year studying the molecular basis of memory at the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Neurobiology in Heidelberg Germany. This year convinced me that I wanted to do a PhD.
I did my doctoral research with Jeff Lichtman in the MCB department at Harvard. We studied how the nervous system changes its connections during early development in response to patterns of electrical activity (both intrinsic and influenced by sensory experience). I loved my research project, but the long hours in the dark of the microscope room helped me realize that I wanted more interaction with human beings in my daily work. Since I enjoyed synthesizing ideas from the science, talking about my work, and TF’ing undergraduate courses, I decided to move into teaching.
Currently, I develop and teach courses on a range of topics in neurobiology, which gives me freedom to constantly learn new things. I also have a small research project studying ant olfactory behavior (trail tracking and odor sensation) in the lab of Venki Murthy. The most important part of my position, however, is working with the Neurobiology undergraduates as an academic advisor. My role is help develop the curriculum and guide students through it. In doing so, I get to interact and know personally some of the most inspiring and stimulating young men and women in the world. I am very proud and grateful to work with them.
Outside of science, I am an avid hiker and backpacker. I love the mountains and spend as much time outdoors as I can. When I’m indoors I like to read poetry and cook.