I live in Memphis, TN with my dog, Rolf. We love to get out for trail runs in the evenings and frequent trips to the dog park. I also love to go bouldering, cycling, mountain biking, and hiking!
I have been trail running and cycling since college, and recently began mountain biking. I have always enjoyed endurance sports, and being outdoors, so naturally trail running made a lot of sense. I also love to climb at the bouldering gym, and I’m hoping to do more outdoor climbing in the near future. I love to take my dog with me on trips to the wilderness, especially in winter when he joins me on ski tours. He also joins me on most of my trail runs, and we’re working on getting him to follow me when I’m on the mountain bike.
Besides exercise and being outdoors, I also enjoy reading and listening to audio books or podcasts. I love all kinds of music, but mostly indie rock bands. I also love to draw and practice my creativity in different mediums. Meditation is also a really great way I like to relax and recenter myself throughout the day.
I study how the genes in our bodies control our ability to take nutrients and calories from our diet and store them as fat in specialized cells called “adipocytes.” When our bodies take in more calories than we need, we expand our fat stores in adipocytes, but when our body needs energy, these adipocytes can release fat for other parts of the body to use as energy. In some cases, they misbehave and can lead to several types of disease we call “metabolic disorders” that happen because the adipocytes are unable to control the processes of storing and releasing fat for the body.
My Typical Day:
I usually wake up super early, around 4:30am and let the dog have an early breakfast. I go to the gym from 5-7am and come back to take Rolf on a walk. I have breakfast and get started on work, usually focusing on my most pressing research questions for the morning. I then have a second breakfast, feed Rolf again, and head to the lab to collaborate with my co-workers. We often have lunch together and then back to work on shared research projects. I typically head home by 4pm and take Rolf to the dog park or out for a run. Then we both have dinner, and I try to catch up on emails and administrative duties in the evening before getting a restful night of sleep.
What I'd do with the prize money:
The prize money would help me to create outreach materials to teach the public about obesity and metabolic diseases; especially how our bodies are built to take extra calories and store them as fat, and why this is a beautiful and natural property of the human body. I would stress the importance of understanding why fat is an essential energy source for humans, and what are the best ways for us to maintain a healthy amount of fat in our bodies, through good diet and exercise routines.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
energetic, gregarious, caring
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Traveled to international destinations to collaborate on science with amazing people all around the globe.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I was inspired to become a scientist because I wanted to help my family members who were suffering from diabetes and related metabolic disorders.
What was your favorite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
A deep sea explorer
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I would love to be an engineer working for an automobile company like Rivian
Who is your favorite singer or band?
I love lots of music, and it's difficult to pick a favorite. At the moment, i'm really enjoying music by a Danish band named, "WhoMadeWho"
What's your favorite food?
I try to eat a plant-based diet that is low in grains and high in vegetables. My favorite veggie is probably brussel sprouts
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I try to do fun things everyday, but maybe skiing is the activity that brings me the most joy.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I wish I had more time to explore the mountains of the world. I wish I was able to speak with animals and understand their emotions, especially my dog, Rolf. I wish that I could live and work in the mountains.
Tell us a joke.
The optimist sees the glass half full. The pessimist sees the glass half empty. The engineer sees a glass two times too large.