By Brittany Howell
Originally published Winter 2010.
I did part of my PhD in the USA (LSU), and later got a postdoctoral fellowship to come back. While I was there I contacted Paul Plotsky to do a second postdoc at Emory to study the neurodevelopmental effects of early life stress in the rat. I did not know I would end up working with monkeys…
Was it difficult to transition from working in science in Spain to working in the US?
Just the opposite. The US has a stronger science infrastructure and a very efficient system. That’s why I stayed here.
Congratulations on recently becoming a US citizen! What are some of things that you miss (and don’t miss) about Spain?
Definitely, I miss the “tapas.” I am kidding…although I do miss Spanish food. Mostly, I miss my family and friends. I don’t miss the cigarette smoke everywhere.
Since I was very young I wanted to understand why we feel and behave the way we do. That could only drive me to study the brain and how early experiences shape its development.
What do you enjoy most about working with monkeys?
Their unique personalities. I love the fact that they are so different to each other; some are easy‐going, others are neurotic!
I know you must not work every second of the day, so what do you do during those 5 or so extra seconds each day?
I play mommy, spend time with my dogs, hike, read…(all in 5 seconds.)
Not just one, or one type of music. I love Spanish guitarists (Andres Segovia, Paco de Lucia), Celtic music (Luar Na Lubre), classical (Bach), Pink Floyd, Queen, REM, Sheila Chandra.
What were your greatest challenges so far in your career, and how did you overcome them?
Finding a balance between family and career, which I am still working on. I had to become more efficient and focused at work, and establish clear priorities. And sleep less…
Any last words of advice?
Love what you do in science. Be persistent and creative.