What is your name?
What is your job title?
Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Radiology
What type of things do you do in your job?
I teach both undergraduate and graduate students. I usually teach more advanced courses rather than introductory courses (which I like). These are in the area of cognitive neuroscience which is basically understanding how our brains allow us to think, learn, pay attention, understand and speak language, remember, plan, reason, etc.
I also supervise students on a 1-on-1 basis as they learn how to conduct research in this area. Finally, I conduct my own research, in large projects, that are supported by grants from the government.
What type of training or schooling did you have to have to do your job?
First, I had to get a college degree. I went to the University of California, San Diego. My major was in Psychology and Neuroscience, so I learned both about the brain and the mind, and learned how to connect the two. I also minored in Philosophy, which helped me think about important issues in how we do science and develop new theories.
Then after that I went to graduate school to get a PhD (which makes me kind of a doctor, but not the kind that does medicine). I went to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to become specialized further in cognitive neuroscience. I also learned how to become skilled at doing my own research.
What do you like best about your job?
Lots of things! But I really enjoying teaching students both about the current knowledge about the brain & mind, and also how best to do research to study all the unanswered questions.
I also really enjoy getting to do research myself -- I get to ask very challenging but fun questions, and then go out and investigate them myself, hopefully learning new things that will enhance our knowledge and be useful to society.
What do you like the least about your job?
Sometimes I have to do a lot of "busy work" -- lots of paperwork that I'm not so good at! Also, sometimes it is frustrating when you think you have good ideas for research projects or new findings, but it can be hard to get funding (money) to do new work.
How does the brain's thinking process work?