This week we present two stories about the inspiration behind scientists' careers.
Part 1: Kate Marvel's dream of being a genius takes her to Cambridge to study astrophysics.
Part 2: When Joe Normandin begins to question his sexuality as a teenager, he turns to neuroscience for help.
Kate Marvel is a scientist at Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute of Space studies. She uses computer models and satellite observations to monitor and explain the changes happening around us. Her work has suggested that human activities are already affecting global rainfall and cloud patterns. Marvel is committed to sharing the joy and beauty of science with wider audiences. She has advised journalists, artists and policymakers, written a popular science blog and given frequent public talks. Her writing has appeared in Nautilus Magazine and On Being. You can watch her Mainstage TED talk at http://go.ted.com/katemarvel
Joe Normandin earned a B.A. in Biology with a Specialization in Neuroscience from Boston University, where he worked as an undergraduate research assistant in labs studying the behavioral genetics of sexual orientation in people and female sexual behavior in a rat model. He earned a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences - Neurobiology and Behavior from Georgia State University, where he explored how the brain regulates sexual reflexes. He found evidence of a brain circuit that provides an anatomical/functional basis for the oft-reported side effects of delayed orgasm in those taking antidepressants. He is now a Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University. Dr. Normandin values the wonderful public education and support he received as a young gay man growing up in Massachusetts. Even with that education and support, he struggled with his identity as a gay person. In high school, a psychology class introduced him to neuroscience, which led to a search for research that he thought would validate his sexual orientation. This search set him on a path towards becoming a neuroscientist, and ultimately led to questions he explores in the classroom: Are people born gay? Does it matter? Dr. Normandin is also an avid gamer and has saved the universe many times.