Plexon Research Spotlight

Samantha Debes

PhD Candidate, Dragoi Lab, The University of Texas MD


What type of neuroscience research do you do and what got you interested in this research?

I study visual perception, and how perception then influences behavior. I’ve always been fascinated by the senses, going all the way back to my childhood looking at optical illusions. In college, I studied psychology, but my curiosity to understand the neural underpinnings of visual perception drove me to study neuroscience.

What challenges did you encounter along the way, and how did you overcome these challenges?

Things don’t always go to plan. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced has been dealing with failure. Whether it’s a grant that didn’t get funded, an experiment that didn’t work out, or finding mixed effects, I’ve learned that flexibility and perseverance are key. Grad school, and research in general, is full of ups and downs. I also think it’s important to remind yourself of why you got into this field in the first place. Don’t let that curiosity fade!

What new technique do you think will have the greatest impact on Neuroscience research and how do you plan to apply this to your research?

I think the most impactful discoveries will come from cleverly combining new/continuously improved techniques (e.g. large scale recordings, optogenetics) to get at the fundamental questions. It’s not enough to use a new technique. The value comes from how the techniques are used.

Lab Website: Dragoi Lab Website

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