I am currently a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Michigan. In 2010, I received my B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Kettering University. My work extends between academia and industry, mostly in Michigan and California. I have an extraordinary family who supports everything I do.
In 2009 Michael J. Fox hosted a documentary called Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, traveling the world in the name of research, health, and happiness. In one episode he visited Bhutan, a Buddhist nation on the Himalayas’ eastern edge, where he described a sudden alleviation of his Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
This began me wondering. What are we doing at these extremes? Are we living or are we dying? I am excited at the thought of understanding how altitude or other extreme pressures alter the ongoing state of a neurological disease. Despite a rich understanding of how the body reacts to these situations, we know very little about the brain, especially in regards to electrical activity. Fox’s anecdote is of particular interest because my primary research is on Parkinson’s disease (PD). Uncovering the mechanisms that drive the symptoms and side effects of PD is critical to informing therapies for the over ten million people diagnosed worldwide.
In the lab, I use in-vivo electrophysiology to investigate how neural oscillations are involved in motor function. These brain signals are also available through non-invasive EEG measures, and I have developed tools that make this data collection feasible in extreme conditions. I'm inclined to think that normal people in extreme environments look like diseased people in normal environments. My goal is to describe how different environments alter brain activity and affect motor learning and performance.
Causes & ethos
I live by the words, wake up, be you, do good. Beyond my research on Parkinson's disease, these are the two missions I find most exciting and pervasive.
- Low Impact Living. I'm a recent Dharma student and resident at the Zen Buddhist Temple of Ann Arbor, practicing mindfulness under the guidance of its many teachers. The wide scale industrialization of animals concerns me, for both nutritional and environmental reasons. I'm a current member of VegMichigan and stay on beat through podcasts and the science.
- Committing to Conservation. There is nothing quite as important than preserving the natural beauty of a forest, plain, or river. To me, this means that exploration has to be conducted with little impact to the environment (see Leave No Trace), and the undeclared value of the wild must be respected. I've contributed to Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, and try to embody their adage, "Explore. Collect. Protect."