David Davila

WHOOO! Let's do the celebration dance forever!!

Favourite Thing: I take pictures of tiny brain cells with a special microscope that make them GLOW! The pictures are beautiful and seeing them in the dark is mind-blowing!



Bachelor’s: Pomona College 2008-2012, Masters: Universite Paris Descartes 2013-2014


Familiarity with biological laboratory techniques and experience in science communication

Work History:

Research Assistant – Universite Paris Descartes, Chemistry Stockroom Coordinator – Pomona College

Current Job:

Master student


Me and my work

I use mice and their brains to figure out which parts are affected by addictive drugs – and which parts keep you going back for more!

I’m just barely starting my Ph.D, so there’s still a lot of possibilities for what I’ll be doing for the next 5 years!

But in general, I’m looking at which brain cells and which areas of the brain are important for the good feelings (like the pleasure of eating a candy bar)! ¬†Brain cells, or neurons, fire electrical signals to each other, and there are a ton of ways we can study their firing in mice to find out how it works in humans. One tool I’ll be using actually makes these neurons glow when they fire! With this, I can literally see which brain cells are firing while mice are walking around!

My Typical Day

Every day is different! Either I’m reading to learn more about my field, or I’m doing an experiment with mice, or I’m looking at the results from other experiments to see what it all means!

The lovely thing about being in science is that you don’t have a typical job where you do the same thing all day over and over. A lot of times, a typical day really depends on what needs to be done!

Probably the majority of my days is preparing for experiments and looking at the measurements of these experiments. Different types of experiments – from ones that are just watching how the mouse is acting to those where I inject liquid into the brain – all answer different types of questions, and it can get pretty complicated to try and figure out what’s actually going on!

What I'd do with the money

Give it to schools who don’t have enough money for science programs

I’m looking into charities and other programs that are aimed at helping schools that don’t have a lot of money for science and science programs. What I think really gets people interested in science early on is to get a feel for how hands on and interesting it can be – but equipment can be expensive!

I’m thinking about donating to this foundation, which sends scientists into classrooms! They sound great!¬†

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Dorky, Excited, Sleepy

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I’m a big fan of a band called ‘Girlyman’. Look them up!

What's your favourite food?

Probably chocolate

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Built a bonfire on the beach and made s’mores =)

What did you want to be after you left school?

I had NO IDEA. A teacher, maybe?

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

We never actually did it, but in school I wanted to have a huuuuge pillow fight during lunch, but it just didn’t happen. I would have definitely gotten in trouble though.

What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Gone to conferences and met other cool scientists to talk to science about.

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

After my first summer internship where I did 10 weeks working in a lab, I knew I needed to start considering the field of research

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A baker. With my own bakery. Full of pies and cupcakes.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1) I wish for the power to stop time 2) I wish everyone on the planet was well sheltered and fed 3) I wish I could sing

Tell us a joke.

What do you call a line of rabbits jumping backwards? A receding hare line!!

Other stuff

Work photos: