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Life in a lab: How bicycling led to a career in science

Joy Franco, a graduate student in engineering, is a part of Stanford's Wormsense lab. This piece features an audio story with Franco on her life in science.

For my story "Life in a lab" in the latest issue of Stanford Medicine magazine, I camped out with Miriam Goodman's Wormsense Lab for the better part of a week, watching people work, taking notes and recording hours of interviews. In the end, only a small portion of what I saw made it into print. In this piece, I go a bit deeper into the lab members' stories.

I recorded an audio story with lab member Joy Franco, whose hope is to open up new ways of studying touch. Like a few other members of the lab, she is a graduate student in mechanical engineering, and her current research focuses on finding better ways to grow touch-sensitive neurons in a dish.

But she did not always imagine this life for herself -- in fact, she did not always think she'd go to college. In an audio story recorded for Stanford Medicine magazine, Franco explains how her love of bicycles set her on a path to graduate school, what it's like to be a neuroscientist and the experiences that keep her motivated to continue in scientific research.

In this audio story, writer Nathan Collins talks with graduate student Joy Franco about her experience in the lab and her passion for science.

Franco told me about her days, which include a fair bit of time feeding worms. She describes her tattoo (an equation describing the shape of a heart!) and how her grandmother's dementia helps inspire her work.

And she also shared what she likes best about her job:

My favorite part of the job is looking at worms through the microscope. When you're you know you're on the microscope and they're moving around it is, it is just beautiful. And because the worms that we use we have fluorescent florophores in them, it's really a glow worm that's moving around. And I just can't get past how awesome that is and how awesome it is that that's my job.

Photo by Timothy Archibald

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