How do a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a master’s in film production and a doctorate in psychology, with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience, fit together? “Like the pieces of a puzzle,” says Laris Rodriguez. “Research involves an engineering way of thinking, and my degree work in visual perception required knowledge of math and computer programming, so my technical background was a great asset. My storytelling experience helped me figure out a way to write and explain my findings to people.” After earning an M.F.A. at USC and while taking care of her first child, Rodriguez says, she was inspired by reading UCI brain research papers to pursue a Ph.D. in that area. “Although I didn’t really have any experience in the field,” she says, “UCI and my adviser, Charles ‘Ted’ Wright, gave me a chance, for which I’m so grateful.” After graduation, Rodriguez hopes to teach at the university level. “In my ideal scenario,” she says, “I will always get the chance to tell stories, inspired by science.”

– Pat Harriman, UCI

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