I Was Born a Scientist
I always wanted to push the boundaries. There was always a ‘why.’ So if somebody gave me an answer, I wanted to know why that was so.
Joy Hirsch, Professor of Psychiatry and of Neurobiology, has established and directs the Research in the Brain Function Laboratory at Yale University. According to its website, Research in the Brain Function Laboratory has "made fundamental contributions to understanding the neural processes for cognitive control that enable flexible goal directed behaviors including the resolution of conflict".
Dr. Hirsch joined Yale from Columbia and, before that, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Weill College of Medicine at Cornell University where she founded the fMRI laboratory and pioneered the introduction of brain-mapping procedures for neurosurgical planning. Using fMRI, her laboratory made fundamental contributions to the understanding of sensation and perception, language and the cognitive processes, and brain regions that are modified by specific drugs. These initial studies were built upon research done by Dr. Hirsch as a professor at Yale University School of Medicine, where she focused on the cortical mechanisms directly involved in human visual processing, serving as a foundation to connect the advantages of fMRI to ongoing and new research directions at Columbia University.
Hirsch is also a curator of The Brain: The Inside Story on view at the American Museum of Natural History.
I don’t ever remember now wanting to be a scientist. I had an uncle who was very influential. He was a scientist who worked on the development of the solar battery at Bell Labs. And he was somebody that I had admired very much.
But in addition to having models, I wanted to be a scientist because I wanted to discover things. I think that being a scientist isn’t something that you choose as a career, it feels like you’re sort of born to be a scientist. Like in the same sense, you might be born to be an artist because there’s just something inside you that can’t stop trying to figure out how things work.
And so I think that I’ve always just been aware that that was who I was. I also wanted to push the boundaries. There was always a ‘why.’ So if somebody gave me an answer, I wanted to know why that was so.
And when I couldn’t understand it was something that was very frustrating. So, there’s the other side to being a scientist is the frustration of not being able to figure something out. It’s not just fun, it’s hard work. And that kind of comes with the package or at least, it did with me.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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