Posted in Articles: Thursday, March 7, 2013
We sat down with Sheila Rosenberg during a break in the student-postdoc research workshop that took place in July 2012. This is what she had to say about her interactions with the Center.
My name is Shelia Rosenburg and I’m a Postdoc in Todd Coleman’s lab at UC San Diego. I love the lab, I mean, one thing that I think is amazing is that Todd’s lab is kind of like a mini version of the Center. What I like about the lab and the Center is the unique way different people approach the same question or tackle a problem. I’m enjoying being around engineers so much because they are more theoretical in general. They are really good at abstraction and they frame questions differently. I think even coming at things with a different language can be very valuable because then you get into a discussion, and you ask the question - \"Well what do you really mean by that?\" and I think it forces you to go deeper into the issues because you actually have to make sure you understand each other, and you have to make sure you’re on the same page to move forward.
Here in the Center the potential for collaboration seems really great because it is the same kind of mentality that people bring their different skill sets. I again am impressed at how open minded people are here among the students in the Center. I’m really impressed people are so willing to share and have an exchange. I think we were talking about one of the fundamental things is having the chance to learn new skills. People here seem very willing to share that and I think that’s going to enhance any kind of collaborative project.
If you’re not only working alongside someone, but you both get to learn about the other person’s area I think that is mutually beneficial. The science will be better and I think we'll be able to ask bigger and more important questions because we have a unique team to tackle the problem.
So many of the themes and the conceptual ideas being discussed from a more information theory perspective are very applicable to neuroscience. Because again we’ve been talking about this a little bit; the way the brain works, the nervous system is all about taking in information figuring out how to sort it figuring out how to analyze it, figuring out how to store it.
I really like things like this [research workshop] because i feel like learning the language and some of the concepts that already exist in this area of studying information. Just by having an introduction to these topics for neuroscientists is very helpful.
And, again having the chance to sit down with people who are in theory and say \"here’s what we'd like to know about the brain\". Because I feel like the theoreticians I’m meeting are really good at saying \"Well what you are talking about...that sounds like this type of problem or that type of problem\" And, importantly, they are not trying to box my idea into a certain similar IT problem.
Being able to find these commonalities is crucial, and then for me, there are definitely answers for me that require a quantitative and computational approach. Not that I don’t have the skills for it, I don’t even know where to begin necessarily. Finding people who say \"oh that sounds a little like this strategy would be useful\" I think that there is so much potential here to do this; to really go after these big questions of learning and memory and perception and then also direct that toward eventual therapeutic applications.
For sure, there is inherent risk in going after big new things, and I think for various reasons like funding and other issues people are hesitant to take this risk. However, if you have the backing of a center, and you have a group of people willing to go in on it together, then your potential to make headway on something challenging can be higher probability of success.