Who We Are

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I came to love science and the arts at an early age. By the time I finished high school I my love for art continued, but I had been taught that science was a boring set of tedious rules created by a small set of mad geniuses. I enrolled in the School of Fine Arts, where I studied for two years. During this time I gradually became intrigued by the beauty of the physical world and the challenge of understanding it. I playfully signed up to take a couple of courses in the field of Physical Sciences, at the University of Buenos Aires. Those “couple of courses” turned into a few years of hard and joyful study that took me to a PhD in computational neurobiology at the University of California, San Diego, where I studied how visual and auditory signals are processed in the brain. As a postdoctoral researcher I was privileged to start putting science and arts together by studying the relationship between music performance and human cognition. As a scientist I never forgot my school experience and continuously went back to schools, first carrying brains around as a founding member of the neuroscience outreach group, then showing the connection between science and music. Seeing a student’s eyes widen when they see a brain for the first time, or when they first make a connection between a sound and a waveform, has been one of the greatest pleasures of my relationship with science. It is my vision that every child connects with science, at least once in their lives, through the experience of wonder. I think a deep look into music is a great place to start.

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I am a project scientist at the Institute for Neural Computation at UCSD. I was drawn into science through my life-long involvement with music. I received my Ph.D in Ethnomusicology in 2009 and am a multi-instrumentalist and instrument maker. As an ethnomusicologist, I have traveled extensively studying several of the world's musical traditions and have spent much time working with Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese, and Middle Eastern Music.I also enjoy building new musical instruments from unusual materials such as stone. I have taught music in elementary and middle school for more than ten years now and find that it is often through teaching that I learn the most. 

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Cate Challen

I am an Australian native with a background in biotechnology. I have always had a passion for science, but it was the application of science that gave me the greatest satisfaction. How can these incredible inventions and creations be used to better people's lives or improve the health and well-being of the planet? So, starting my career in venture capital made perfect sense. I was responsible for evaluating new technology companies and determining investment strategies that would help ensure these creative ideas made it to market. My goal is to encourage students to see the beauty in science and maths that is all around us - from rainbows, to music, to wildlife and the stars!