Caveat lector: This blog is where I try out new ideas. I will often be wrong, but that's the point.

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General 2012 updates

Normally I don't do "life posts" like this, but a lot's been going on and I feel like sharing because dammit, I'm excited.

2012 has been a wild year so far: fatherhood, tons of cool new projects in my post-doc research, and a lot of outreach and science communication stuff.

So far I've had two papers published, with three more(!) first-author papers out for review right now. The two published are:

I'm really happy to see the brainSCANr project through to some form of completion with that second paper. I can't wait to share the other three papers coming out. Humbly, they're awesome. Well, two of them are; the third's okay.

I've also been doing some writing for the O'Reilly Radar (no, not the evil O'Reilly, the good one):

I also found out that I was a finalist for the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science. So close! But really cool to even be considered.

Also, a couple of weeks ago I was invited to attend Foo Camp which was a hell of a weekend. I really could (should?) do a whole post about my experiences, but wow there are a lot of really smart, talented people out there doing some great things. That's a really fluffy, non-specific sentence, forgive me, but I just don't have the mental energy to break all my conversations from that event down into details yet.

If you don't read anything else, please read this interview I did with the UCSF Clinical & Translational Science Institute about why I use social media. If you're reading this blog, I believe it will be relevant to your interests.

I've done a lot of science lecturing and outreach stuff this year as well. Deep breath. Here we go:

  • Spoke twice at swissnex San Francisco, totally independently; once about my actual research and once about my science outreach.
  • Gave a zombie brains talk (with a real human brain specimen!) at two local libraries for about 50-100 12-16 year olds.
  • Speaking at NASA Ames in a few weeks about my research and outreach.
  • Was the Keynote Speaker for the Annual Meeting of the San Francisco Neurological Society, also speaking about zombie brains, which was wild.
  • Speaking at the International Neuropsychological Society in Oslo in a few days.
  • Was invited by a University of Chicago neuroscience student group to give a talk there in October.
  • Will be speaking at the Allen Brain Institute in August about brainSCANr.
  • Presented a paper, “Medusa to Slake-moth: The Neurobiological Basis of Hypnagogia, Paralysis, Hallucinations, and Other Magical Abilities of Literary Monsters”, with my friend and mentor Roby Duncan at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (which we're hopefully turning into a peer-review publication).
  • I've done a lot of speaking at Bay Area companies about my data analyses with Uber.
  • Will be on another zombie panel at Comic-Con this year.
  • Will be speaking at the California Academy of Sciences to help kick off the Bay Area Science Festival in October again.
  • Did a radio interview with New Hampshire Public Radio about zombies last month.
  • Did an interview with SETI's radio show Big Picture Science about brain-computer interfaces in January.
  • Am one of Huffington Post's "30 high-profile neuroscientists who tweet".

There we go! That's 2012 so far. Holy crap typing all of that out is crazy. How the hell did I get here? Because I'm pretty sure last time I looked I was wasting time procrastinating and not doing my PhD research.

I wish I could convey to you all how amazingly surreal it is for me to be in this place in my life. Having gone from a... weird... upbringing, losing many people who were near and dear mentors to me, and getting kicked out of college because of my shite grades to... whatever this is, with family and friends and everything else, is astonishing.

I know this post may read like braggadocio, but believe me when I say this kind of thing is necessary for me. My close friend/mentor/dad-by-wager (long story) Roby once told me, when I was in the midst of a years-long bout of self-doubt and uncertainty, that every now and then I need to praise myself; rather than just focusing on what I'm not doing/accomplishing, I should also allow myself the guilty pleasure of basking in successes.

So here I am. Typing all of this out so I can say for myself "hell yes" to keep motivated and moving forward.

This will be it for a while, I promised. I will now return you to your regularly scheduled weird posts about brain damage and ridiculously unethical studies.


  1. Wow that's utterly impressive! Wondering how you transformed from that procrastinator to the fabulously-living you.... Mind sharing a bit of how you made the change?

    1. That's a much longer and more personal story. Maybe some day.