Network flexibly in response to cognitive and behavioral demands
Stacey Seidl is a Ph.D. candidate affiliated with the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience, where she aims to improve our understanding of cognitive circuitry and neural communication. Her research focuses on network flexibly in response to cognitive and behavioral demands.
Seidl received her B.S. in biological sciences with a concentration in neuroscience from DePaul University in Chicago. She spends her free exploring California and volunteering at the Sacramento zoo.
The following interview was conducted in fall 2018. Below that, Seidl comments on her experiences in the Business Development Fellowship program as it drew to a close in spring 2019.
In a nutshell, describe your project or venture.
Attention is a fundamental aspect of our daily lives, allowing us to filter out information irrelevant to completing our specific task goals. Despite decades of research on attentional processing, we still have an incomplete understanding on how it can influence sensory information. My research focuses on how attention and learning can selectively process visual and motor input to help guide our behavior, by highlighting the role of neural communication and network dynamics.
I am a very curious person by nature and always want to know more. My research allows me to fully explore scientific questions indepth and approach them from many angles, drawing on expertise from those around me.
What’s important about your research or project—and where do you hope to take it?
Incorporating both basic and translational neuroscience, I can explore how to the brain works in a healthy state, and then use that information to help better guide treatments and therapies. For example, abnormal neural activity represents a core feature of many neurological disorders and diseases that involve changes in cognitive function, such as in autism and schizophrenia. However, it is unclear if abnormal neural activity is a cause or a side effect of these clinical manifestations. An improved understanding of neural communication and processing may have important implications for many diseases displaying cognitive impairments.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
I am a very curious person by nature and always want to know more. My research allows me to fully explore scientific questions indepth and approach them from many angles, drawing on expertise from those around me. I also love learning and implement new techniques in my work, including computer programming, electrical engineering, electrophysiology, surgery, animal behavior, histology and more.
What was the most important thing you learned at the Entrepreneurship Academy?
When conducting experiments in a lab, we try to control as many variables as possible and eliminate uncertainties. In the real world, this is near impossible to do. My biggest takeaway from the academy is how important it is to acknowledge uncertainties and to reduce them, but not allow them to hold you back in starting your ventures.
What is the most unexpected advice you received from a mentor?
To diversify my social community and network. I was surprised to realize that my network primarily consisted of experts inside my own scientific field, and that I had limited connections to receive advice and support from outside of it. It became very clear to me that bringing people together from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives was key in leading innovation.
Do you plan to participate in the Big Bang! Business Competition or “just” the workshops? How do you expect this to help you as an aspiring entrepreneur?
I am not participating in the Big Bang! Business Competition this year. However, through involvement in the workshops, I hope to gain more insight on how to transform ideas into tangible ventures that can create economic and social change.
How will your experiences as a Business Development Fellow help you to change the world?
I think it is important to help bridge scientific research with businesses and the general public. Learning business and management skills will allow me to better communicate and take my scientific ideas/findings outside of the laboratory. Increased accessibility and involvement in these communities has the potential to improve many people’s lives and drive curiosity about scientific advancements.
What was the most valuable thing you learned as a Business Development Fellow?
To have a large and diverse network. In business you develop a large skill set and knowledge base. However, successful entrepreneurs also strongly use their network to better inform their decisions and for guidance. You do not have to be an expert in all fields, but knowing who to go to and when is key.
What did you love about the program?
I enjoyed meeting other business-minded scientists in the program. It was a great opportunity to build connections across scientific disciplines and learn about different research being conducted at UC Davis. Additionally, I loved meeting the MBA students, hearing about their experiences and fields of study. Combining diverse backgrounds (not only in science) but across disciplines (science-business) was a very rich and rewarding experience. Not only did this allow for constructive brainstorming and creative ideas inside and out of the classroom, but fostered life-long friendships, collaborations and future business plans.
What would you say to a lab partner, fellow student or friend who is considering the program?
“Do it, you will not regret it—I promise.” As an academic scientist you have little exposure to business, industry and the startup community. Having the opportunity to experience life outside of the ‘lab’ was eye opening and life changing. I have been advocating the program to other scientists in my program since week 1 and am even meeting with a prospective BDF applicant next week!
How will your Business Development Fellow experience help you in your career?
In any career, knowing how to use time, money, resources and people is a critical skill to have. The Business Development Fellowship has helped me learn and strengthen these vital career and life skills—which will help me in whatever career I choose. The fellowship has inspired me to look into completing an MBA and combine business with my science track.