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We are taking action against racism at SCU, UCSF, in science, and in the U.S. educational system

Laura Cocas, PhD

I am a developmental neurobiologist. I completed my bachelors degree in Neuroscience and Pscyhology at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA in 2003. I conducted research in the Memory and Aging Institute, with Dr. Leah Light, in the Claremont Infant Study Center, with Dr. David Moore, in The Ruth and Lee Munroe Laboratory for Cross-Cultural Research, with Dr. Lee Munroe, and in the Lanterman Regional Center, with Dr. Gary Galbraith.

As a graduate student, I conducted a summer research internship in the lab of Dr. Andrew Lumsden at the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology in Kings College, London.

I completed my Ph.D. in Neuroscience in the Corbin Lab in the Georgetown University Department of Neuroscience,  conducting research there and at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC. I studied the genetic regulation of cell fate in the basal forebrain in 2010. I found that differential gene expression was critical for patterning boundary domains in the developing forebrain.

I was a student in the Neurobiology Course at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA in 2009. I completed a Fulbright Fellowship studying synapse formation using viral circuit tracing in the Cell Biology Department at the University of Basel, Switzerland in lab of Dr. Peter Scheiffele in 2011.

As a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF in the Department of Neurology and the Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience, I worked in Dr. Samuel Pleasure's Lab to develop new viral tools to probe cortical circuits and neural glial connections. I found a novel developmentally regulated connection between Cajal Retzius cells and developing cortical neurons.

I also taught Intro Biology, Human Biology, and Evolution courses at Cal State University, East Bay, an HSI in Hayward, CA. I taught Cellular/Molecular Neurobiology, Neurophysiology, Neuroanatomy, and Developmental Neurobiology courses at Cal State University, Los Angeles, an HSI in Boyle Heights.

I returned to the MBL as a Grass Fellow in 2019, where I used patch clamp electrophysiology in brain slices to study the role of neuroligins in neuronal to OPC synapses and myelination. I returned to the Grass Lab as the Associate Director of the Grass Fellowship Program at the MBL in 2021 and 2022.

I am a Principal Investigator examining synapse formation and myelination in the developing murine forebrain, and the development and evolution of inhibitory interneuron diversity in the cephalopod brain at UCSF and SCU.

I teach Intro Biology, Neurobiology, Developmental Neurobiology, Biology Project Lab (A CURE), and the Neuroscience Capstone at SCU.

I am the faculty advisor for SACNAS @ SCU, a course instructor for the First Gen SCU LEAD program, and I work with local schools to bring neuroscience to the classrooms of BIPOC Bay Area students.

I am currently funded by the NINDS, with past postdoctoral funding as a UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow, a National Heart Association Fellow, a Fulbright Fellow, and a NINDS predoctoral Kirschstein NRSA fellow.

I am a First Gen scientist. I grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. My ancestors are from Mexico, Greece, and the UK.

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The Garden of Forking Paths is a picture, incomplete yet not false, of the universe. Differing from Newton and Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not think of time as absolute and uniform. He believed in an infinite series of times, in a dizzily growing, ever-spreading network of diverging, converging, and parallel times. This web of time - the strands of which approach one another, bifurcate, intersect or ignore each other through the centuries - embraces every possibility. We do not exist in most of them. In some, you exist and not I, while in others I do, and you do not, and in yet others, both of us exist. In this one, in which chance has favored me, you have come to my gate. In another, you, crossing the garden, have found me dead. In yet another, I say these very same words, but am an error, a phantom.

Jorge Luis Borges

It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.
―Margery Williams Bianco


To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I confess, absurd in the highest degree...The difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection , though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered subversive of the theory.

Charles Darwin

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