My scientific and philosophical interests are vast. Right now, my research focuses on the gene-environment interplay of cognitive abilities. I want to know the impact of certain experiences on the way we think and learn, and how much this depends on our different genetic backgrounds. The experiences of growing up in wealth/poverty, playing video games, and getting educational tools in primary school are all promising candidates that I’m studying with techniques like analyzing twin participants, modeling latent change, and polygenic scoring. I wholeheartedly believe this research field will change the world – helping people to become smarter (a big deal given the importance of abstract reasoning, literacy, numeracy, and working memory to the engines of modern societies and to the quality of our lives) as well as allowing democracies to correct injustices that emerge from the birth lottery (a big deal given that millions suffer or benefit unfairly from being born with worse/better genes and in worse/better environments; factors that were out of our control and should be a smaller portion of our merit).
I also love teaching. I have enjoyed the whole range of my experiences so far: from working with seventh-graders to PhD students on courses in biology, neuroscience, and psychology. It is extremely rewarding to engage students in discussions, encourage critical thinking, and present them with new ways to see a topic. And it’s a great feeling to be told by some students that you made a difference in their lives. I believe in the uncontroversial view that teachers deserve much better recognition, and in the controversial view that all academics ought to teach more. It is our reliable way to give back to society. (Because let’s be honest, we academics cannot rely on always getting useful research results.)
I consider myself privileged and lucky for the path I’ve traveled so far in my career, even though some parts were arduous. I’ve had some exceptionally inspiring professors, as well as advisors who were smart, caring, and gave me lots of freedom. I also worked with amazing colleagues who made everything much more fun. I like that my interests and career paths have aligned well over time and regularly shape each other.
I believe this is still the beginning of a long journey – wherever it may lead.