What do you love most about being President of Trinity College?
One of the things I love about my job is the variety. Different constituent groups, you do something different almost every single day. Because, you’re dealing with a crisis, you’re dealing with something simple and ordinary, you’re going to a student exhibit, you get to walk around and see beautiful art. Other days you’re talking to donors. It’s just such a varied position. The second thing I probably like most about the job is that it’s so mission-focused and mission-driven. You know, our mission here at Trinity College is to provide an excellent liberal arts education to students who are going to go out and transform the world. I mean, what’s better than that to wake up to every day?
What was the spark that led you to neuroscience?
I do remember the roots of my interest in the brain and behavior. So, my mother, you know, when I was growing up in the early 1970s, was always sharing with me, “you know your mood probably affects your health. How you’re thinking and feeling psychologically probably affects how you feel and what you do.” And I realize now that’s a bit the essence of brain and behavior and neuroscience. And in the early 1970’s, neuroscience wasn’t even really a field. It was starting to congel and become a field from psychology, from biology, maybe a little bit from chemistry and philosophy. But I would say the two really primary areas were psychology and biology. And my mother was talking about those things in the 70s. So maybe it’s not a surprise that I went as an undergraduate and started as a biology major. And while I was an undergraduate at Wellesley College, a new field was emerging called “psychobiology” which was at that interface between psychology and biology and what most people would refer to now as modern neuroscience.
What was your first positive experience with science in the classroom?
When I was growing up in middle school, we did do things like dissections. And I remember the dissection that we did on frogs. And I was just fascinated by each and every organ in the body and how each played a part to create the entire frog. And other people, you know, in the class were kind of freaking out or, you know, saying, “ugh, just get me away from these live animals.” And I was just holding them up and showing people and, okay, maybe teasing them a little bit but I just was fascinated by, you know, that animal’s body and how it paralleled to different organs and different systems in humans. That was, I just remember very vividly in middle school those dissections and just finding them fascinating. Um, and, you know what another thing I realized that is not a lot of people in my high school loved science and I did. And I think when you really like something, you become better and better at it, so it was a way to engage the cutest guys in the class because I would always help them with their science questions.