Alex Jaworski, PhD is June G. Zimmerman Assistant Professor of Brain Science and Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Brown University. He joined Brown and BIBS in July 2013.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? When and why did you become interested in science?
I grew up in Berlin, Germany, and was fascinated with science from an early age. While I was initially most interested in mathematics and physics, I fell in love with chemistry during high school and ultimately decided to study biochemistry at the Free University of Berlin. I then quickly became interested in the molecular underpinnings of brain development and function, and I have continued research in this field since moving to the US for my graduate work.
What research does your lab do?
My lab investigates the cellular and molecular mechanisms of nervous system wiring during embryonic development. We want to understand how neurons establish connections with each other and produce functional neural circuits. To this end, we combine multiple experimental approaches in mice that span the full spectrum from the biochemical/molecular to the circuit and organism level.
Why did you choose to come to Brown?
I joined Brown because of the amazing Neuroscience community here. The wide variety of brain science-related research at Brown and the collaborative and interdisciplinary atmosphere really make Brown stand out among its peers. BIBS and the entire group of Brown biomedical research faculty create a very supportive and exciting scientific environment.
What do you like to do other than research?
I enjoy traveling, snowboarding, live music, and good food.
What advice do you have for the next generation of brain scientists?
One piece of advice would be to be advocates for your profession. I think it is important to bridge the gap between scientists and the general public and convey the importance of basic research and the scientific method as a whole. The other advice would be to go for the jugular with your research. Pick a problem that really fascinates you and work relentlessly on picking it apart. Do not shy away from crossing boundaries between disciplines or be discouraged by technical hurdles; do the “difficult” experiments that will really get you to the bottom of things. Lastly, treat being a scientist as a privilege. Because of the ability to set your own direction and the intellectual challenges of research, science can be one of the most engaging and rewarding human endeavors.