He was 12. It was the best birthday gift his parents ever gave him. Not a bike, not a pair of skis, not a model rocket — it was a programmable calculator.
"I was a total geek," admits Carlos Brody in the accompanying video. "Even as a kid I was thinking about how complex systems work."
Brody, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, now directs his energy and passion toward what he calls the ultimate programmable calculator — the brain. He is seeking to understand the mechanisms that control the behavior of brain cells involved in short-term memory and decision-making.
A faculty member at Princeton since 2007, Brody came to the University two years after the Princeton Neuroscience Institute was launched. He said the "stellar intellect" of his colleagues and students and the interdisciplinary nature of his work keep him motivated.
"The brain, because of its nature, requires interdisciplinary cross-level thinking to make the advances beyond what we know now," Brody said. "It's about exchanging ideas, no matter which department you're in.
"And that has been a big part of what promotes neuroscience here at Princeton and what makes me think, 'Oh, we're really going to do something special here,'" he added. "Understanding how the brain works will have impact on philosophy, will have impact on engineering, will have impact on health. And here at Princeton, we're on the cusp of producing those interdisciplinary links right now."