A bit about me
I'm a scientist, communicator, and educator who loves finding new ways to help people engage with the world around them. I am currently the Associate Director of Education & Training Initiatives at Columbia University's Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.
With a background in scientific research, I've seen how important it is to not only conduct experiments well but to actually use that knowledge to spark an interest in others. As a strong believer in experiential learning, I strive to introduce people to scientific concepts through hands-on activities tailored to any type of scientific background. My hope is that the portion of science people experience with me is something fun and meaningful that encourages them to learn more!
However, science content is only part of my considerations when it comes to public engagement. Scientific research has a history of excluding groups (by race, gender, disability, and numerous other factors -- just bring to mind the faculty roster at nearly any university). But instead of relying only on the resilience of scientists from historically excluded groups, I am a big proponent of changing the culture of academic science instead. I believe scientific research can become a diverse, inclusive, and equitable field in which future scientists feel a true sense of belonging.
Diana Li, Ph.D., is the Associate Director of Education & Training Initiatives at Columbia University’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. She leads public engagement programs that share neuroscience with the local community, including research internships for high-school students and professional development for teachers across NYC. She completed her undergraduate studies in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, and she earned her Ph.D. in biology from Stanford University. At Stanford, she studied the neurophysiology and biomechanics of squid swimming, coordinated marine biology outreach programs in her lab, and served as Outreach Chair of her department’s graduate student organization. A skilled science communicator, Dr. Li has spoken on Science Friday, performed at Caveat, and brought her research to local classrooms, aquariums, museums, and science expos since 2015. Nothing motivates her more than seeing people feel like they belong in science, and she loves finding new ways to spark that excitement.