Simón(e) Sun is a Doctoral Candidate at New York University where she studies Neuroscience.
Simón(e) grew up in suburban Virginia, which she describes as very different from New York City. Simón(e) marvels at the “dynamic and lively” atmosphere of the New York City, and the fact that, “with the whole world at your fingertips, you’re always exposed to something new and exciting”. Simón(e) credits this realization, which spawned as a young child, as her driving force to pursue a life in New York City. Additionally, since Simón(e) has multiple “passions and pursuits”, she views the city as, “the perfect place to explore everything there is to discover with Science, Art, Music, and Queerness.”
Simón(e) is also an artist and musician, and uses this space to unify the “rational and emotional aspects” of art and science. Currently, she is working on a project that uses neuronal data from the lab as material to make music! She is currently writing a full album (named: Zero Divide Zero) that is inspired by this process, so stay tuned! Additionally, Simón(e) is an advocate for LGBTQ representation in science and participates in and moderates panel discussions on how to best address issues experienced by individuals in the queer community and other minority groups.
What’s your favorite thing about being a scientist? Did you always want to be a scientist?
“Science is a unique combination of creativity and convention. My favorite thing about being a scientist is that I am a part of this process of making new knowledge by questioning convention. Science is often misunderstood as something that is dogmatic and unchanging. But it’s always skeptical and dynamic. Every discovery and new idea raises more questions, requiring scientists to dive deeper and look in new unexplored places. We use our creativity to come up with new ways to ask, answer, and create new ideas, building our sphere of knowledge. I think in a way, I always knew I wanted to be a scientist: someone who looks at our current understanding of the universe and asks: “But what about that?””
If you could give one piece of advice to young scientists or students, what would it be?
“Never underestimate the importance of a good mentor. There is so much of science that doesn’t exist in labs, textbooks, or papers, and a good mentor helps you navigate that not just in the lab but outside of it as well.”
Have you ever made something explode or otherwise wildly go wrong in lab?
When you are done training, do you plan to stay in NYC?
“Absolutely. I’m happy to say that New York is my home.”
If you were a lab animal/model organism, which would you be and why?
“Not so much an organism, but I’d be a plate of cultured neurons. I’m enamored by the things artistic minimalism reveals and I’m similarly obsessed with those concepts in science. You would think that a random group of neurons would be simple to understand, but it always surprises me just how much we really don’t know about how neurons work. Working in culture preps feels like I can get right up to a neuron and ask “what are you doing, and how do you do it?””