I graduated from Harvard College in 1994 with a degree in chemistry and physics. In the last year of school, I became interested in neuroscience after hearing about it from some colleagues. I thought that people pretty much knew how the brain worked already—it’s just that I hadn’t taken those classes or read those books. I tried to look up questions that I had, and I realized that they weren’t really solved yet.
I entered graduate school in neuroscience at MIT and studied under Matthew Wilson for a Ph.D. It was in Wilson's Lab where I began to study place cells, recording the activity of neurons in the hippocampus to explore the relationship between these cells and spatial memory. It was an ideal place to do this work, because just a few years earlier, Matt had been a key developer of a technique to record the simultaneous activity of groups of about 100 individual neurons in freely moving rats.
Then I joined Michael Brecht’s lab at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, where I started a postdoctoral fellowship in 2004. By combining his expertise in in vivo whole-cell recording with my experience doing freely moving extracellular recording, Michael and I developed the first method for performing intracellular recordings from freely moving animals. Later, I moved with Michael’s group to Humboldt University in Berlin, where Michael, Jérôme Epsztein, and I further improved the method and then used it to obtain the first intracellular recordings of hippocampal place cells.
I joined Janelia Farm in 2008 to continue research into hippocampal place cells and spatial memory using both intra- and extracellular recording methods. Janelia Farm is an ideal place to do research, providing both freedom to pursue one’s research interests and an environment with exceptional scientific and technical colleagues who can help make each other’s goals reality.