Academia is for Everyone: Popping the Science Bubble

Interview by Juliana Chase
Elena Leib believes that science is for everyone. As a 2nd year Psychology PhD student working with Professor Silvia Bunge, she is on a mission to demonstrate that research can be both accessible and meaningful no matter a person’s background.

Elena Leib presenting at 'Popping the Science Bubble' at Berkeley's Public Library
Elena Leib presenting at 'Popping the Science Bubble' at Berkeley's Public Library

Last week, Elena had the opportunity to share exciting findings from developmental and cognitive psychology as part of the “Popping the Science Bubble” outreach series, which is organized by UC Berkeley PhD students and postdocs. Members of the community squeezed into a small space on the first floor of the main branch of Berkeley’s Public Library to listen as Elena shared how the environment and experiences affect the developing brain and how experience-dependent plasticity and learning change across the lifespan. She concluded by discussing how adults are able to adapt to age-related changes in cognitive capacities.

This kind of information is at the heart of what Elena believes scientists should share. “Day to day, we forget that some of what we do is not known by the general public. When I share findings from our field, I see how excited people are to learn about their minds and brains, and based on the questions I get asked, people want to learn more! This is why I am dedicated to sharing research broadly. This science pertains to all of us.”

“Popping the Science Bubble” is just one example of scientific outreach at UC Berkeley. We will be showcasing many more outreach opportunities in the coming months. Stay tuned to learn more about science communication in the Berkeley Psychology department.

Elena Leib is a second-year PhD student in the psychology program at UC Berkeley. She studies in the Building Blocks of Cognition laboratory under the supervision of Professor Silvia Bunge.

Additional reading:
Bunge lab:
Popping the Science Bubble: