I received my B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University as a National Merit Scholar, and my Ph.D in Neurosciences from University of California at San Diego in 1995 through a Regents’ Fellowship.
During my Ph.D I studied far beyond the neurosciences (areas of brain research, including neurochemistry, neuropharmacology, neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, neuropsychology, psychoneuroimmunology, and neuroendocrinology), trying hard but failing to satisfy a voracious appetite for an integrative, rather than only specialized, understanding of the human body and brain. This led me to research in nutritional biochemistry (for instance, decreasing alcohol’s impacts on memory and learning), endocrinology at cellular and system levels, genetics and molecular biology, and supposedly ‘far afield’ classes in cancer and oncogenes, gerontology, physiology of exercise, language and the brain, and cognitive science.
Earlier experience in high school computer programming allowed me to put aside experimentation on animals and head towards the relatively new area of computational neuroscience. A summer at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory led to my dissertation work in perception, vision, and space-time signaling in the brain: realistic large-scale modeling of brain visual pathways on supercomputers.
Additional training in complex systems studies and nonlinear dynamics at CNLS and the Santa Fe Institute for the Study of Complexity (SFI) during the years of my Ph.D candidacy exposed me to a fantastic diversity of applied mathematics, physics, theoretical biology, and abstract thinking on topics from communications to high-dimensional networks to human sociology.
My postdoctoral work at Oxford University in Physiology was not at all helped by two major car accidents that occurred right after my Ph.D got awarded. But a cross-disciplinary postdoctoral position in biology/ecology with Professor Jim Brown at the University of New Mexico followed, opening up entirely vistas and deepening insights into systems ecology, environment and evolution.
Particularly interesting for me then was the (then almost invisible) bridge between human ecology and evolutionary psychology, which deeply involves not only human brain and behavior, but group dynamics, communications, and even human institutions such as economics, politics, law, and other behavioral systems. Science is still struggling to not only explain and understand these systems but to generate system principles that can illuminate the human journey.
It is at the juncture of all these intersections that you will find me. I consider myself an empiricist, an experimenter and most importantly, an “applied” theorist. For what is the good of understanding if we cannot apply what we know?
I’m currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, UNM, Albuquerque, as well as an independent consultant, researcher, and writer.