You’re a neuroscientist? That’s cool! So what do you do?
Soon after starting grad school, we realized that answering this question is not that easy. The jargon-filled answer we might give to a fellow neuroscience graduate student is not suitable when speaking to a parent. As scientists, we feel we have a responsibility to communicate our work to all audiences in a way that is accurate without being dry, easy to understand without oversimplification, and exciting without exaggeration.
So in 2012 we began Knowing Neurons, a website focused on educating the general public about neuroscience, the role of biomedical research in advancing medical knowledge, and the importance of fundamental research in revealing the inner workings of the mind and brain! We publish articles that highlight recent advances in neuroscience and exciting new scientific technologies. We interview top neuroscientists in their field and review interesting books about the brain. Our writers are masters, graduate, and post-doctoral students, who are experts in their field of neuroscience. To keep our articles approachable, we support each one with useful visuals, easy-to-follow illustrations, and infographics, which teachers from all over the world use in their classrooms!
The core team of Knowing Neurons comprises a group of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, who specialize in different areas of neuroscience. We discuss and edit all content on the site, write our own articles, and apply our diverse scientific interests and expertise to making Knowing Neurons an effective educational resource about all things brain!
Kate Fehlhaber, Editor-in-chief
Kate graduated from Scripps College in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Neuroscience, completing the cellular and molecular track with honors. As an undergraduate, she studied long-term plasticity in models of Parkinson’s disease in a neurobiology lab at University of California, Los Angeles. She continued this research as lab manager before entering the University of Southern California in 2011 and then transferring to UCLA in 2013. Currently, she is a Neuroscience Ph.D. Candidate and studies early visual processing using electrophysiological and optical techniques to measure light-evoked responses in retinal neurons.
Joel Frohlich, Senior Editor
Joel Frohlich graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2012 with a B.S. in neuroscience. Currently working towards his PhD in the lab of Shafali Jeste at UCLA, Joel is examining biomarkers of autism spectrum disorders using EEG signal complexity as an intermediate phenotype for relating neural mechanisms to clinical presentation. Joel’s dissertation will focus on duplication 15q syndrome, a copy number variant which confers risk for autism and epilepsy. In current and future research, Joel will apply information theory and nonlinear dynamics to electrophysiological brain signals as a means of studying their informational content.
Jillian L. Shaw, Senior Editor
Jillian decided to dedicate herself to a life of exploring the mysteries of the brain after reading neurological case studies by Oliver Sachs and Ramachandran as a student at Vassar College. After completing a B.A. in Neuroscience with honors in 2009, Jillian headed to USC to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience where she is now in her 5th year. A research stint in Belgium exposed Jillian to the complexities of cell signaling pathways, and her interests shifted from cognitive neuroscience to cellular and molecular neuroscience. Her current research focuses on the link between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease using Drosophila as a genetic model to explore axonal transport, mitochondria dysfunction, synaptic defects, and neurodegeneration. When she is not in the lab, Jillian is forming new synapses by rock climbing throughout Southern California.
Jooyeun Lee, Senior Graphic Designer
Jooyeun (JL) dreamt about being an artist and yet she is now in her fifth year as a Neuroscience Ph.D. student at USC. As she studied art in college, it opened up a whole new world beyond her perspective and turned out earning a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. Thereafter, she joined a neuroscience lab at California State University, Northridge, studying wound healing response in diabetic neuropathy as her Master’s thesis project. Currently, she studies neurological disorders, such as Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, using Drosophila as a model system.
Anita Ramanathan, Contributing Editor
Anita met neuroscience during her undergraduate project, and it was love at first sight. While majoring in biotechnology at the B.M.S. College of Engineering, Bangalore, she had the opportunity to learn about biochemical subtyping as a method for biomarker discovery in neurodevelopmental disorders. She then pursued a Master’s in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at USC. During her thesis project, her interest in translational neuroscience further evolved as she studied a kinase pathway (PI3K) highly implicated in autism. She currently belongs to the Neuroscience Graduate Program at USC and works on components of the blood-brain barrier and its integrity in animal models of neurological disorders. Outside the lab, Anita is very enthusiastic about educational and scientific storytelling! Some of her parallel interests include consumer psychology and behavior.