Professor Tara Keck (BME ’06) completed our Quantitative Biology & Physiology Program; she is now a Professor of Neuroscience at University College London. (CV)

She leads a research team investigating neuroplasticity, or how the brain changes in response to changes in the environment. Their research aims to understand the mechanisms and behavioral consequences of healthy and maladaptive neuroplasticity. They do a combination of laboratory research to understand the molecular to network mechanisms of neuroplasticity and population studies in collaboration with international organizations to understand the important environmental risk factors for neuroplasticity associated with aging and trauma. They are working on two key problems: 1) How does neuroplasticity change during ageing in both healthy and disease states (for example, Alzheimer’s disease)? and 2) How can neuroplasticity be harnessed to improve mental health support for vulnerable people, including survivors of traumatic events and older people?

My QBP training provided me with a foundation in molecular to systems scales of biology, which has strongly influenced how I approach my work throughout my career. My research in neuroplasticity has spanned from molecular mechanisms up to population studies and my QBP training has facilitated productive collaboration with researchers across these scales. My current work is focused on translating our mechanistic knowledge of neuroplasticity from the laboratory into the field and this cross-scale foundation has been invaluable in helping develop this work.”

Outside of the specifics of her training, she really enjoyed the shared office space the QBP students had. “It allowed us to stay connected, even as we became research intensive in our individual labs, and to learn about each other’s research projects.” She recommended to have training on communicating with stakeholders beyond academia.

To current QBP trainees, she mentioned to always have a growth mindset and be excited to learn more. The development of your scientific thinking skills is a life-long process.