For our second Brain Awareness Week curator, we’re excited to have Mo Costandi (@mocost), freelance science writer based in London, UK. Mo trained as a molecular and developmental neurobiologist and now works as a freelance writer. His work has appeared in Nature, New Scientist, Science, and Scientific American, among other publications. Mo is the author of Neuroplasticity (MIT Press, 2016) and 50 Human Brain Ideas You Really Need to Know (Quercus, 2013), and he is currently working on his third book, Body Am I: The New Science of Consciousness. He also writes the Neurophilosophy blog, hosted by The Guardian.
We asked Mo how he became interested in science, how he chose his field, and why people should be interested in the brain and neuroscience. You can read his responses below.
I became interested in the brain during ‘A’ Level psychology, so decided to go on to university and study neuroscience. I now work as a freelance writer specialising in neuroscience, but this happened by accident. I got kicked off my PhD back in 2000 and started working as a security guard to make ends meet. I was very bored in this job, so I set up a neuroscience blog to pass the time. It gained momentum, and eventually I started receiving emails from magazine editors, asking if I’d like to write something for them. I started getting more and more freelance work, and then realised that I could earn a living from it, so I resigned from the security job, and have been working as a full-time freelancer ever since (for ~9yrs now). I write news stories and feature articles about neuroscience for the web and in print. I’ve also written two books and am working on a third.
Neuroscience is a fast-moving field, and it’s sometimes said that we have learnt more about the workings of the brain in the past 10 years than we did in the preceding thousand years.
Public interest in neuroscience has grown enormously in recent years, because of these advances, and because of exaggerated claims that brain research will tell us everything we want to know about what it means to be human. People don’t really care about my work, but they are interested in learning more about themselves. I ‘translate’ brain research into everyday language, making it accessible to more people. I’m also on the board of directors of the International Neuroethics Society, which addresses ethical issues raised by brain research and questions how it might impact society, public policy, etc. In my spare time, I love cinema, books, music, photography, and travel.
Please welcome Mo to Real Scientists!