Expertise: memory, sleep, pharmacology, aging, brain stimulation
Sara C. Mednick, cognitive sciences associate professor, studies the science of sleep and how getting those extra Zs can improve brain functions. She’s specifically interested in how sleep affects memory, how interventions like pharmacology and electrical brain stimulation can be used to improve sleep, and how gender and age can help or hinder healthy sleep. Her book, Take a Nap! Change your Life, has been featured widely in popular press from The New York Times to HowStuffWorks. Her research has also been published in scholarly works including Nature Neuroscience and The Proceedings from the National Academy of Science, as well as others.
She has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense Office of Naval Research, and DARPA for her sleep research. In 2015, she was awarded the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Prize.
Mednick received a bachelor’s in drama from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, and had planned to pursue a career in acting until she took a job working in the psychiatry department at Bellevue Hospital. It was there her interest in how the brain works piqued, sparking a return to school for a Ph.D., which she completed at Harvard University. She went on to work as a postdoctoral scholar at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and at UC San Diego. From there, she was hired as an assistant professor at UC Riverside where she spent six years until coming to UCI in January 2018. On campus, she directs the Sleep and Cognition Lab.