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Meet our teams


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Meet our teams


Our teams of designers and researchers have been carefully selected and thoughtfully paired. The designers' breadth and depth of work is complementary to the scope of the research and allows for ample collaboration, consideration and experimentation. From kickoff to final solution, the designers will have roughly 2.5 months to conceptualize, craft and execute their visual solutions that translate the research into digestible, visually arresting forms. From industrial designers to filmmakers and neuroscientists to ecologists, these teams represent and true meeting of minds and partnership between the fields of design and science.

brian foo—buzsaki lab


brian foo—buzsaki lab


BRIAN FOO

Brian Foo is a multidisciplinary designer and artist currently at NYPL Labs, The New York Public Library's digital innovation unit. He is on the shortlist for the Information is Beautiful Awards for his project Data-Driven DJ, a series of music experiments that combine data, algorithms, and borrowed sounds in order to explore new experiences around consuming data beyond the written and visual forms. He is also the creator of Navigating The Green Book a project for the New York public Library that maps locations that guided Black travelers across a segregated America. He believes that art should be more accessible, inter-personal and impactful.

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SAM MCKENZIE

Sam McKenzie is a postdoctoral researcher working in György Buzsáki's laboratory at NYU. Sam's experiments focus on the neurobiology of memory. In the past, his research has addressed how learning alters the underlying representation of existing, related memories. Currently, Sam is studying the communication between brain regions known to be important for memory formation. A major goal of this work is to gain a more complete understanding of the language the brain uses to communicate with itself.  

 

WHAT ARE THEY CREATING?

Brian and Sam are working on a continuously learning song that listens to, remembers, and interprets the sounds of its environment. This will act as a musical metaphor for how memory may work in the human brain based on Sam's leading research at the Buzsaki Lab.

Brian explains his prototype at The Leading Strand designer demo day. Come see how it's evolved since then at the exhibit July 13.

vicky du—dulac lab


vicky du—dulac lab


VICKY DU

Vicky Du is a Taiwanese-American documentary filmmaker based in New York City. Her short film Gaysians was selected for NewFest and Outfest Fusion. She is currently developing a feature on Chinese birthing centers in the United States that explores themes of immigration, female sexuality and xenophobia. Her directing and editing work has also been featured on The History Channel, The New Yorker, and BKLYNR. Vicky holds a BA in Biological Anthropology from Columbia University, and in a past life, she studied wild monkeys in Kenya and the Caribbean. 

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DHANANJAY BAMBAH-MUKKU

Dhananjay (Dj) Bambah-Mukku is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Catherine Dulac’s laboratory at Harvard University. Dj’s research is focused on neural circuits underlying instinctive social behaviors in mice. In the past, his research has uncovered molecular mechanisms underlying long-term memory formation and persistence. Currently, Dj is working to genetically identify neuronal cell types that orchestrate instinctive behaviors such as mating, parenting and aggression, and to understand the rules governing their development. The long-term goals of this research are to understand the assembly and function of circuits underlying instinctive behavior and how these are modified by experience.

 

WHAT ARE THEY CREATING?

Vicky and DJ are creating a short documentary experience that traces his work on the genetic, neural and biochemical mechanisms of gender recognition and sexual behavior in mice. The film will tease apart the philosophical implications of his research on modern society, as well as explore DJ's personal motivations and his understanding of the world around him that drive him to pursue these questions.

 A couple stills from the film. Come see the finished piece at the  exhibit .

A couple stills from the film. Come see the finished piece at the exhibit.

alisa alferova—stern lab


alisa alferova—stern lab


ALISA ALFEROVA

Alisa is motion and brand designer based in New York. She has worked for global clients including Powerade, Microsoft, and Heineken and is currently engaged as an Art Director for Pepper Jam design agency. She is part of Yopolis, Russia's first social participation platform, helping citizens turn urban ideas into action. Alisa holds an MS Communications Design degree from Pratt Institute and her thesis focused on using design to overcome learning impediments.

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TEAL EICH

Teal Eich is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Yaakov Stern's lab at Columbia Medical Center in the division of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Neurology. Her research interests involve the intersection between cognitive control (how we appropriately guide and control our behavior depending on our current goals) and memorial and affective processes.  She uses both behavioral and neuroimaging (fMRI) methods to explore these interactions in normal aging and diseases of aging, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

 

WHAT ARE THEY CREATING?

They are creating a motion piece that uses metaphors to delve into the nuances of memory failure in aging populations. We look at how efficiency and inhibition play a role in memory performance, and why looking only at capacity is a narrow view.

kelsey hunter—suzuki lab


kelsey hunter—suzuki lab


KELSEY HUNTER

Kelsey Hunter is a product designer with a background in advertising, software and multi-market services. Currently focusing on interconnected experiences, she spends her time as a Product Designer at Button creating contextual mobile commerce, and advising for small startup Multi, changing the way people and businesses interact. Previously, Kelsey attended Y Combinator in the Summer of 2015 as the Design Director of Vive, an on-demand beauty subscription service. She's heavily interested in the context behind human interactions, and when she's not advocating for usability she can be found kicking it at the UFC gym.

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JULIA BASSO

Julia Basso is a postdoctoral researcher working in Wendy Suzuki’s laboratory at the Center for Neural Science at New York University.  As a neuroscientist and dancer, Dr. Basso is interested in the body’s ability to shape the brain.  For her doctoral work, she discovered that certain regions within the reward circuitry of the brain regulate exercise motivation in the rodent.  Currently, she is investigating the effects of exercise on learning, memory, cognition and mood from a behavioral, electrophysiological and genetic perspective.  A major goal of this work is to identify the mechanisms underlying exercise-induced improvements in brain functioning.

 

WHAT ARE THEY CREATING?

They are creating Exley, a bot that talks to you daily evaluating things like mood, sleep, eating habits and cognitive functioning, all in relation to your exercise habits. Exley sends back your weekly stats along with key research from Suzuki Labs about how beneficial exercise is for your brain in both the long- and short-term.

elaine khuu—fetz lab


elaine khuu—fetz lab


ELAINE KHUU

Elaine Khuu is an industrial designer at littleBits and the Digital Arts and Humanities Research Center (DAHRC) at Pratt Institute. Through littleBits Elaine is introducing a new generation of children to engineering and inspiring them to explore their creativity through technology. At Pratt, Elaine collaborates with designers and organizations on new applications of technology. With DAHRC, Elaine has presented the use of pressure sensors and pressure visualizations in furniture at the NYC Media Lab 2015 Annual Summit; and the use of highlighting changes in local fauna and flora to bring attention to global climate change at the BLOOMBERG D4GX (Data for Good Exchange) and STRATA + HADOOP World Conference.

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ANDREW BOGAARD

Andrew Bogaard is an MD/PhD candidate at the University of Washington in Seattle who studies the motor cortex, a part of the brain that coordinates movement. It's an important area for clinical and philosophical reasons, he says, because movement is central in our daily lives, and some believe it's the reason brains evolved. Currently, he is conducting experiments in the Fetz lab that use experimental electrical devices for communicating back and forth with the motor cortex. Bogaard hopes that this research will teach us about normal brain functioning and inform development of the next generation of neuroprosthetics. Prior to this, he studied physics and worked in labs at the University of Michigan, MIT and Boston University.

 

WHAT ARE THEY MAKING?

Elaine and Andrew are creating simple machines representing two models for signal transmission for movement. The first machine represents the concept that distinct neurons fire in a particular sequence to trigger a movement. In contrast, the second machine shows the more likely model that the same movement can be driven by different neurons firing in varying sequence. 

Each machine requires two inputs from the viewer: start and reset. To start the ball-run, simply pull the lever labeled START on each machine. Resetting the balls requires the viewer to turn the crank until the balls appear at the top of each machine. While the first machine only has three balls, and needs each of them to run; the second can run with a variable amount.