How did you become interested in cannabis studies?
I was reading the work of Alan Watts, and his use of cannabis in studies of religious experience. At the same time, I was discovering the field of neuroscience, and recognized that brain systems are powerful mediators of human experience and awareness. Over the next 15 years, I became a student of neuroscience, and was very fortunate to work under incredible mentors in the neuroscience of endocannabinoid signaling (Daniele Piomelli), synaptic plasticity of cocaine craving (Marina Wolf), and human substance use (Harriet de Wit). In those years, I gained passions related to the treatment of substance use disorders and mental health, and now, arriving here, have an incredible opportunity to focus my work and interests around the study of cannabis.
What attracted you to LA?
Ziva Cooper and the UCLA Center for Cannabis and Cannabinoids! My sister has also lived here for 15 years, and with her first on the way, family is an important factor. I’ve also lived in Southern California before, so I feel like I’ve come home. Not to mention UCLA is an incredible institution with amazing faculty and I’m excited to be part of the community here. I also feel lucky to have our neighbors down the street, USC, as potential collaborators for studies.
What are you most looking forward to here at UCLA?
I’m excited to learn about higher-level responsibilities that Ziva works with while establishing her protocols, such as INDs, working with the FDA, etc. But primarily looking forward to building out my own project, developing the protocols, forming the advisory team, and working with UCLA resources to secure grant funding. I hope to incorporate various neuroimaging techniques and receive further training in those areas.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I enjoy cooking, going on hikes, bike rides, and playing music. Piano is one of my favorite things and enjoy writing songs on both piano and guitar though I absolutely cannot sing!