Faculty Spotlight: Mary Lambo

How does sensory processing lend itself to life as we know it? If our experiences materialize due to sensory transduction, do these processes inspire our entire perspective? These questions sparked Mary Lambo’s interest in neuroscience and eventually motivated her research in neural plasticity and sensory processing. As new teaching faculty at Wash U, Mary now guides students through fundamental neuroscience concepts and challenges them to discover their own motivating questions.

Mary spent most of her early years in the northeast region of the United States, moving around with her parents and eight brothers. The family eventually moved to Georgia where she completed her undergrad degree at Georgia Institute of Technology. She decided to move back to New England for grad school, where she felt the most at home. She completed her PhD at Brandeis University in Boston studying homeostatic plasticity mechanisms in Gina Turrigiano’s Lab. She loved Boston for its progressive culture and proximity to the mountains of New Hampshire, providing access to two of her favorite hobbies, rock climbing and hiking.

Mary has always enjoyed problem-solving and was interested in mathematics as a young student. Her interest in math eventually led to an interest in science. Her specific interest in neuroscience stemmed from her undergrad psychology studies. She liked the challenging questions the discipline of psychology asks, but wasn’t satisfied with the methods used to answer those questions. She was more interested in the biology of psychological phenomena, which falls under the study of neuroscience.

Mary found herself at a crossroads after completing her PhD and post-doc in the Turrigiano Lab. She could continue with academic research and become a principle investigator or pursue a field that had pulled at her for as long as she could remember: teaching. Throughout ungrad and grad school Mary taught in a variety of settings and always found it gratifying. She feels that she has a more direct and immediate impact by working with students in the classroom. She enjoys experimenting with new pedagogical strategies, designing courses, and thinking on end about the most effective ways to teach neuroscience. She also prefers the pace of teaching over that of research. Working long hours in a lab can be isolating, whereas teaching gives one the opportunity to connect and interact with others more regularly. Now in the Biology Department at Wash U, she can help shape minds and reveal new perspectives, which ties into her interests in psychology, learning and behavior. She is able to help students on their educational journey, in an academic setting that feels familiar and comfortable.

Mary currently co-teaches Bio 404: Laboratory of Neurophysiology with several other neuroscience faculty members and a lab section of Bio 2970: Principles of Biology II. She appreciates the value that Wash U places on teaching and the institution’s commitment to a cohesive and integrated community of both research and teaching faculty. The concepts, methods and procedures taught in the Laboratory of Neurophysiology course in particular are closely aligned with her grad school studies. She will be a biology major advisor in future semesters and is currently working with Yehuda Ben-Shahar on developing a new neuroscience course, hopefully to be offered in spring 2020, stay tuned!