Open Labs Spotlight: Shannon Leslie

Written By: Malena Rice


Shannon Leslie, a third-year graduate student in Yale University’s Interdepartmental Neurobiology program, loves being a scientist because it provides her with the opportunity to ask important questions that interest her, then go out and find the answers. She was inspired to enter the field of science by an amazing teacher who showed her the fun and power of science during her freshman year of high school. Fascinated, Shannon reached out to a scientist from a local university, who helped her to organize her first lab experience during that summer. While working in the lab, Shannon learned what research really was and how it was conducted with the help of graduate students and postdocs in the lab. She was also particularly inspired by how much the researchers around her loved their jobs. She knew from that point that she wanted to go to graduate school and continue with research throughout her studies.

As a graduate student, Shannon has become involved with research focusing on a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for many unique functions such as attention and short-term memory, but it is also particularly vulnerable to diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Shannon studies the molecules that underlie the unique abilities and vulnerabilities of the prefrontal cortex. By studying these molecules in the context of age and stress, she is advancing our knowledge of their relationship with psychiatric illness.

Outside of research, Shannon loves being in the outdoors, hiking, running, and spending time with her recently adopted dog. For Shannon, outreach is extremely important because it reminds her why she loves science in the first place. To students interested in science, she recommends always asking questions and being unafraid to reach out – scientists are extremely welcoming and happy to talk about their research!

Thanks to Shannon for all of her hard work and contributions to Open Labs! If you have any questions for Shannon or for Open Labs, please feel welcome to email us at or leave a comment below!