This week’s Scientist Spotlight features Lauren Laboissonniere, a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Center for NeuroGenetics at the University of Florida. Our Scientist Spotlight series features STEM professionals who volunteer in our pen pal program, Letters to a Pre-Scientist.
One thing Lauren is loves about her job is working “alongside some brilliant scientists who regularly challenge and inspire me.”
What is something everyone gets wrong about your job or line of work?
One common misunderstanding is that neuroscientists know more than we do. The brain is still quite a mystery and many aspects of normal behavior remain elusive to us, though many scientists are working to better understand these topics. When people learn that my PhD is in neuroscience, I am often met with questions about dreaming, behavior, personality traits, etc. Unfortunately, I am unable to answer many of those questions because the field still does not have all of the details just yet, though as a scientist I have become quite good at speculating based on available data.
Why do you participate in LPS and why is outreach important to you?
I participate in LPS because I believe that inspiring the youth to pursue STEM careers is more important now than ever, as our society becomes more and more technological and research-oriented. We need more young, brilliant minds to assist with the new questions that arise in our day-to-day lives and many of the students with whom we are communicating through LPS are in communities where they may not receive such encouragement to pursue STEM fields.
Scientific outreach is tremendously important to me and I believe everyone should have the opportunity and knowledge base to interpret scientific information in their own lives. I have been quite privileged to have made it as far as I have in terms of education and my career; therefore, I feel it is a duty of mine to communicate scientific knowledge to the public in a concise, understandable fashion to increase scientific literacy within our society.
Furthermore, by encouraging young students to pursue or remain open-minded to science, I hope they will approach these topics with more curiosity and will remain accepting of new ideas/data.
What is the best or coolest part about your job? What keeps you excited about your
My favorite part of research is being able to think up a question and creating an experiment to answer that question. It inspires creativity and curiosity – two traits that I feel are often overlooked for their value in modern society. One thing that keeps me excited about my job is getting to work alongside some brilliant
scientists who regularly challenge and inspire me.
What do you like to do for fun?
I really enjoy crafting, whether that be knitting, painting, cross stitching, etc. When I return home from work, I spend most evenings relaxing by focusing on a craft project. I’m currently knitting a baby blanket for our first child, who will be born this summer! Otherwise, I really enjoy spending time outdoors, both photographing birds and collecting insects with my husband – who is an entomologist.