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Grace Lindsay - Four Way Interview

Grace Lindsay is a computational neuroscientist currently based at University College, London. She completed her PhD at the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University, where her research focused on building mathematical models of how the brain controls its own sensory processing. Before that, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh and received a research fellowship to study at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Freiburg, Germany. She was awarded a Google PhD Fellowship in Computational Neuroscience in 2016 and has spoken at several international conferences. She is also the producer and co-host of Unsupervised Thinking, a podcast covering topics in neuroscience and artificial intelligence. Her first book is Models of the Mind.

Why science?

I started my undergraduate degree as a neuroscience and philosophy double major and I think what drew me to both topics was the idea that if we just think rigorously enough we can make a lot of progress understanding how the world, and ourselves as humans in it, works. Now, as a practicing scientist, I really do appreciate the strict standards for critical thinking and evidence-backed beliefs this profession has instilled in me.

Why this book?

I am a computational neuroscientist and most of the time that I tell people that they really don’t have any idea what it means. Computational neuroscience is an approach to studying the brain that involves mathematical analyses and model-building, and it is becoming an increasingly dominant way for neuroscientists to try to understanding how the brain works. I wanted to share the fruits of this field with the world so that they can see what the future of neuroscience will look like, but also provide the context and history that shows how mathematics has always played a role in our understanding of the brain.

What’s next?

I’m a scientist, so I am going to keep on doing my research, which is about building mathematical models of how the brain processes and uses visual information. But I would like to write another book someday--possibly about modelling in science more generally, including physical and mathematical models.

What’s exciting you at the moment?

I’ve been trying to follow some of the progress in how scientists are trying to address and prevent climate change. While climate change obviously still fills me with a lot of anxiety, I have felt a sense of excitement and respect for the people using science creatively to innovate in this area.

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