By Blake Coolidge, A17
This year, Tufts welcomed many new faculty members who bring a
wide array of academic and professional experience to the community,
including Assistant Professor of Biology Mimi Kao, and Riccardo
Strobino, the Mellon Bridge Assistant Professor in Graeco-Roman and
In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences awarded Professor Kao and
her colleagues the Cozzarelli Prize to recognize their contributions
in the area of Biological Sciences. She has also given a
TEDx talk, "What Songbirds Can Teach Us About Learning And the
Brain," on the topic.
Kao has also worked in the field of optogenetics, which uses light to control brain activity. Optogenetics, she says, is a less invasive way to investigate brain function and has several advantages over more traditional ways of altering brain activity. "It allows that rapid transient activation/inactivation of specific classes of neurons as opposed to all of the cells in a brain region," she explains.
Kao earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and her master's degree in East Asian studies from Harvard University. She received her undergraduate degree in Human Biology and East Asian Studies from Stanford. She has held research positions at the Center for Integrative Neuroscience and the Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience at UCSF, as well as at the Harvard Medical School.
A guest speaker at many professional conferences and educational institutions, Kao has presented at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, International Congress of Neuroethology, and the Computational and Systems Neuroscience meeting. Her most recent talk at Columbia University was given as part of the seminar series for the Psychology Department and Neuroscience Program.
After working at a health and sciences college for over ten years, Kao is enjoying Tufts' intellectually diverse community and interacting with students pursuing all areas of academic study. "I am so excited about coming to an undergraduate and research institution that includes arts and humanities, an engineering school, and sports teams," says Kao, who is teaching Human Physiology next spring.
In addition, Professor Kao is eager to explore Boston and the outdoor activities that New England offers. She looks forward to biking the Minuteman Bikeway, and embracing the snowy winters with snowshoeing.
Professor Riccardo Strobino says his research
interests originate in a deep fascination with
languages—particularly Arabic, Greek and Latin—along with conceptual
puzzles. The latter, he says, are the "the bread and butter of
philosophy, and of logic in particular, that is to say the study of
how arguments are put together, analyzed and evaluated." In studying
multiple aspects of the transition of philosophy from the Ancient
Graeco-Roman world to the Latin West and the Arabic-Islamic
tradition, says Strobino, "I work with languages all the time and
have to solve textual, historical, and philosophical puzzles in
virtually every text I set out to read, which is great fun and
involves a huge amount of detective work."