How I got into science
I never chose science; science chose me. (And no, I don’t mean that natural selection is what has allowed for my existence here today.) As a child I was many things: great at talking to adults, an athlete, rambunctious, and a mini engineer. From the moment that I learned to walk and talk, I was simultaneously learning how to handle a hammer and nails. You could find me every weekend building the most obscure things in the basement of my grandparents’ house; constantly pushing my imagination further and further. (You can only imagine what happened when I discovered Legos.)
While I maintained my love for building and sculpting (some of which developed into useful solutions my proudest being “the cookie-dunk-saver”) my innocent and imaginative mind began to be exposed to tragedy within my family. My great-grandparents and grandparents, along with my great uncles and aunts, etc. were nearly all taken from my life by the hand of cancer. To this day, I am yet to have gone to a single wedding but yet I have made it to more funerals than I can count on two hands. Upon experiencing such chronic loss to family members so near and dear to me, I needed to know “Why?”
As such, I did what any 8-year-old would do, I asked my parents. The problem was however, they were never able to give me a straight answer. The fact of the matter is, no one really knows the answer to the “why” question when it comes to cancer. It was at this point in my life that I began my quest as a researcher. I was quite frankly fed up with letting other people tell me that they didn’t know the answer to such important questions. I know, it was quite an undertaking for an 8-year-old and I can tell you that my search for the solution to cancer did not get very far, but I can promise that my mentality hasn’t wavered. To this day, I remain active in my path of discovery while still continuing to be the same kid I was 12 years ago: I like to talk to adults, I’m still actively involved, I have remained rambunctious, and I am an engineer of what the future holds for the world.
Along my path of discovery, I have fallen in love with neuroscience as my grounds for discovery. As I found out early, when you need the answers to things, it’s best to go directly to the source. Thus, it only makes sense that I study the brain (not only because of how cool it is, but also) for the plethora of answers about humanity that lie beneath the dura.
I am your typical, all-American country boy from a small town in the Midwest. Well...I’m actually from Massachusetts which complicates things a bit but describes me quite accurately. For instance, I LOVE country music (cue the typical city folk cringe). I’m also a huge lover of the outdoors and all things that require a little bit of elbow grease. As such, I welcome the long, arduous days that I willingly put myself through.
Every day starts with a cold shower, morning coffee and a bible chapter (like I said, stereotypical country boy). After that, you can find me doing anything ranging from going to class, to volunteering at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, to getting more coffee, to painting, hiking, skiing, or anything that allows me to escape to the outdoors. As a result, everyday runs quite literally into the next with the whole process starting all over again at 4:30 in the morning because who really needs sleep?
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Game of Thrones
All things Country
Garlic Red-Skinned Mashed Potatoes
Fiji Water (no it’s not “just like” regular water)
Coffee, friend or foe:
Where would I be without such divine, bronzed, browned and brazen allure?
One thing I’m sorry I’m not sorry about
I commit fun facts from the back of Snapple caps to memory and incorporate them into my conversations EVERY chance I get.
What I look for in a scientist
In my opinion, there really isn’t anything special that makes someone a “scientist.” As long as someone is actively seeking answers to the problems of the world, they’re a scientist to me. What makes a scientist special to me, is their understanding of their importance and relevance as facilitators of our ever-changing world. It is up to us as “scientists” to grab a hold of the unknown and conquer it so that every passing day can be a stepping stone for those that follow until we can make this world a better place. In other words, my ideal scientist is someone that motivated to transform the world and can appreciate the role of others in that process.