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A bit about me

I’m a science communicator and educator based in NYC, and I love 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. I care deeply about increasing access to science as well as making pathways to science/academia more equitable and inclusive. At Columbia, I lead neuroscience public engagement programs for high schoolers, higher education students, and teachers.

My passion for public engagement with science grew from my experience in graduate school at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey, CA. During my PhD research on the neurophysiology and biomechanics of squid swimming, I began leading squid dissections and jet propulsion activities at expos and events at local science institutions: The California Academy of Sciences, Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Francisco Bay Area Science Festival (to name a few). Soon, I was taking these experiences into local classrooms ranging from 4th grade through high school, and I absolutely loved the chance to help students bring science to life and turn a spark into a passion. 


After earning my PhD, I decided to leave my sea-faring squid research for a dedicated life on land where I work full time leading public engagement programs that make science accessible to all. As your friendly neighborhood squid expert, I love giving talks about my research, including tales from ship to shore, and I always have a blast performing on science (and science comedy) shows. Take a look at my events, or get in touch to book me! 

Official bio

Dr. Diana Li 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.

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