Alexis Porter – Lab Manger at Carnegie Mellon University
Life Inside the Lab:
What is your work/research topic? Currently obesity and how this impacts the brain structurally along with underlying mechanisms involved in the cycle of obesity.
Alexis Porter is a Lab Manger at Carnegie Mellon University working in brain imaging. You can follow Alexis on Twitter @alexis_porter21
What was your best day of science? When I was able to present at CNS (cognitive neuroscience society) during undergrad. Explaining a research project I had spent the past year collaborating and having the opportunity to interact with so many like-minded people.
What was your worst day in science? The time I spent 7 hours working with MATLAB on a Saturday only to find out I was preprocessing with incorrect parameters and was told to go home.
What did/are you study at university? I studied about neural mechanisms involved in attention restoration theory based on natural environments using EEG during undergrad at Utah State University. As a lab coordinator at Carnegie Mellon I work with preprocessing data for a study involving exercise intervention and structural changes while also writing a review on the cycle of obesity and mechanisms involved.
What does your average day look like? I wake up at 5am to get that extra cuddle session in with my pug Voxel. Go into the lab and work on current projects while also being a mother hen to past projects and many other protocols involved in maintaining a lab. Sometimes I work on writing scripts either in python or bash for organizational purposes. Programming often feels like a hidden gem within neuroscience.
What are some of the highlights of your career? Working as a team on projects that benefit society. Getting involved in a community where so many people are passionate about these ideas or concepts while also hearing the backstories to how they got involved in neuroscience. Those moments where you see a significant trend in data and everything for once doesn’t seem so messy.
What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job? I think working with dsi-studio is fascinating.
Life Outside of Lab
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Layton, Utah.
What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid? My mom always told me I’d make a good accountant because I was really into numbers.
What do you do to relax outside of lab? Painting, running, practicing guitar and piano, video games, adventures that involve being immersed in nature, biking, museums, taking my dog to the park, dancing, talking to my plants, volunteer work with children.
Do you have any pets? Yes, Voxel the pug
Do you have any fun hobbies? Painting and teaching myself the piano
Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be a scientist? In high school, every chapter I read in my AP psych book I would excitedly tell anyone that would listen to me. I was drawn to how various cognitive changes occurred during task and how this was interpreted.
Why were you drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? How close was your schooling related to your current job? I was drawn to it because I see life like one big puzzle. Research is one way to solve some of the greatest mysteries behind human behavior. I think everyone considers what’s outside of their career path. My schooling followed my current job pretty nicely.
What was your biggest challenge during your degree? Going through a period of time when I was volunteering at three different places (lab, tutoring, advocate for a women’s shelter) while working at a behavioral unit. Not having the time to take care of myself, while having family and friends that depended on me for emotional support. It was a growing period of what I cared about most and learning how to manage my time.
What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Remember to build on your community. It’s easy to get stuck in self defeating thoughts when an overwhelming amount of information is being thrown at you from all directions. Taking things as they are and teaching others about what you’ve studied has helped me to feel less ‘out of my element’
Why do you think it is important to have more women in STEM? Gender equality.
- What is your favorite book? Abnormal Psychology by David Barlow
- What is your favorite desk snack? Almonds
- What is your favorite cartoon? B-mo
- What would you listen to while writing? Odesza
- What was your favorite subject in high school? chemistry
- What is the strangest thing on your desk right now? I have a decoration of something called a gregor. It’s made out of a church pew
- Organization nut, or curated chaos? A bit of both?
- Any other fun fact about you… My dog and I have matching Pokemon outfits
- What color socks are you wearing? Bright orange and yellow stripes with owls on them
Follow Alexis on Twitter @alexis_porter21