Stephanie J Forkel, Ahmad Beyh and Alfonso de Lara Rubio
Stephanie J Forkel
Stephanie is currently working as a senior neuroimaging research scientist at King’s College London, studying the lateralisation (location in the left or right side of the brain) of white matter connections and their relation to language recovery after brain damage.
When she was very young, Stephanie’s mother was working on her medical dissertation in a hospital wet lab in Munich, and from that moment Stephanie was hooked on scientific study. She loved passing time in the lab with her very own set of pipettes and coloured water, conducting early, purely data-driven research (mixing yellow and blue water turns it green – revolutionary findings for her at that age). All childish play aside, it was this time that taught Stephanie (by observation) the basics of clinical research, such as keeping meticulous records, dedicating full concentration to a process, discussing findings with colleagues and dealing with the occasional failure of experiments. Stephanie was mesmerised by the idea of doing research on her own, but in spite of these early ambitions, she never returned to a wet lab. Instead, she decided to work with patients. With the help of advanced neuroimaging methods, such as diffusion tractography, Stephanie studies the structural predisposition of the brain for language and how the variability in white matter connections between eloquent brain regions can inform our understanding of the mechanisms of language recovery after brain damage.
There are three things Stephanie loves most about her work. The first is that it is directly patient-focused, and that she might even be able to witness a change in care for language patients during her lifetime. The second is that she can learn something new every day. And last but not least is the fact that her work is embedded within international collaborations. This has allowed her to meet distinguished Nobel Laureates and her personal science heroes, some of whom she has had the honour of working with. An additional perk of the international nature of her work is getting to meet new colleagues and friends across the globe.
Ahmad is a research worker and part-time PhD student at the Natbrainlab at King’s College London. His research focuses on the brain networks of the human visual system, particularly those relating to spatial navigation and motion processing. Ahmad obtained a degree in psychology from the American University of Beirut and a Master’s degree in neuroscience from King’s College London. Not surprisingly, his great passion for photography was a major factor that pushed him into the visual sciences. He hopes that his research will contribute to a better understanding of the diseases that can affect our ability to see. Away from work, Ahmad enjoys learning to play the oud, a Middle Eastern lute.
Alfonso de Lara Rubio
Alfonso wanted to be a video game developer throughout his teenage years, but changed his mind at university when he became involved in medical field research projects in the electronics engineering department. Through this work, Alfonso saw the satisfaction of doing useful things that help others. He thinks he made the correct career choice.
Now, Alfonso works as a technical engineer at King’s College London, supporting research projects that use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. His favourite aspects of his job are the challenges he faces: working in a restricted environment, with huge magnetic fields. As with a lot of science, sometimes the projects don’t work as expected, but the satisfaction gained from a project’s success is huge. To anyone interested in pursuing a career in technical engineering, Alfonso recommends gaining as much practical experience as possible to supplement a university degree.
Alfonso has a range of interests and hobbies that he pursues in his spare time, including motorcycles, mechanics, radio-controlled modelling, bass fishing and video games.