I live in Seattle with my partner Kyle. Apart from my work, I’m interested in gardening, botanical art, and rock climbing.
I’m inspired by Puget Sound’s Momentia Seattle, a grassroots movement empowering people with memory loss and their loved ones to remain connected and active in the community. Currently, I help coordinate ‘Friday’s in the Garden,’ a gardening activity for people experiencing memory loss or any stage of dementia, offered by Seattle Parks and Recreation and the UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center.
Here’s my path to science writing about the brain and neurodegenerative diseases, including my family members who understand the experience of brain disease and why I study and write about it, my influences in grad school and writing, the research escapades I embarked on during the time I thought I would write a book, and then the discovery that I could use all I learned and happily inhabit the worlds of writing and brain research through a much more enjoyable career choice:
Aunt, uncle, cousins, family support
Words to live by
Influences in the MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing: Russ Rymer, my thesis mentor ; Iris Monica Vargas, supportive colleague
All cousins on the maternal side of the family
My MIT thesis! 10,000 words on the science of laughing and crying
Visit to John Allman’s lab at CalTech where we dissected a human frontoinsular cortex- the area of the brain damaged in some forms of FTD
Visit to John Allman’s lab at CalTech where we dissected a human frontoinsular cortex- the area of the brain damaged in some forms of FTD.
Constantin von Economo. An underappreciated neuroanatomist and discover of the Von Economo neurons in the human frontoinsula. A huge influence in my understanding of the brain.
A visit to Bill Seeley at UCSF Memory and Aging Center. He has Von Economo’s famous neuroanatomy reference atlas
Bill Seeley, who studies how disease pathology impacts Von Economo neurons, showing me Von Economo neurons in diseased and healthy brain tissue under the microscope
Brain tissue from people who had FTD or Alzheimer disease
A visit to Patrick Hof at Mt Sinai. These are slcies of the frontoinsula from a monkey
Slides; monkey brain tissue; whale
Patrick Hif at Mt Sinai holding a walrus brain
I became the staff writer at the MGH FTD Unit, writing for Dr. Brad Dickerson. Here we are in the MGH Ether Dome, in front of a portrait depicting the first use of anesthesia in surgery, righ here in this room. It was the day of the Neurology Grand Rounds, the first time one featured a case of FTD, nevermind one where the patient’s spouse, Katie Brandt, spoke about the human experience of caregiving in the most challenging of situations..
My grandfather John N. Lamb
My grandfather John N. Lamb, in artwork by his son Greg Lamb
young parents in the 70s
greg and mom
mom and aunt Christine
First time a woman could take biology at MIT. Wore a hat, even though it wasn’t allowed.
Katherine McCormick, one of the first female biology grads of MIT.
In the Ether Dome at Mass General. Painting: Dr. John Collins Warren performs the first surgery without pain as William Morton administers ether.
Members of the MGH FTD Unit in Vancouver at the International Conference in FTD Research, 2014.
Brad Dickerson, Katie Brandt, and I representing FTD at Rare Disease Day, Feb 28, 2014
Katie Brandt speaking with photos of Mike behind her
don’t interrupt me!
A painting by May Lesser I keep returning to
I’m the science writer for the UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center, and Alzheimer Disease Center
Some of the UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center clinicians and researchers.
I entered my mother’s self portrait (right) into the Art of Alzheimer’s Exhibit in Seattle, a showcase of art by people with dementia.
Visitors linger by the two portraits in the exhibit.
It turned out to be a really meaningful experience to talk about the value of recognizing the preserved ability to create even as the self changes in illness.