Joanna Krzyśpiak

Chair of NeurOnAir
Science Background
I began my scientific training by earning Bachelors and Masters degrees in biomedical engineering from Cornell University. There, I got my first introduction to stem cells when I used them to work on generating a 3D in vitro model of the intestines. The nervous system was always a source of fascination for me, so I looked for opportunities to learn more about it in the hopes that later in my career I could combine my neuroscience expertise with my engineering skills. After graduation, I came to NYC to work as a Research Assistant in the lab of Ali Brivanlou at The Rockefeller University. It was there that I gained a wealth of expertise about early human neuronal development when we used human embryonic stem cells to study the roles of several genes in neuronal differentiation.
I pursued my interest with stem cells and neuroscience by applying for PhD programs, and joined the labs of Kamran Khodakhah and Jean Hebert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Here, I study the use of neuronal and vascular stem cells in cell replacement after stroke, as well as motor disorders of the cerebellum. I love being at the edge of knowledge in a way that is challenging and also satisfies a sense of curiosity. If I’m lucky, my work will benefit the world one day, but if it doesn’t then at least in the meantime I had a hell of a good time with wonderful colleagues at Einstein who also need to know how the world works
How the Podcast Started:
I have this hopeful idea that education would solve a lot of issues in our world. While education isn’t an elixir, it can help people make sense of their world and make better decisions. Over the last decades, we have exponentially increased the amount of information at our disposal, but that doesn’t mean that we can keep up with all of it, or even know how to make sense of it all. I wanted to be a part of that process, and as scientists, who are basically professional learners, we have a lot to offer society to assist them with that. At Einstein, we do a lot of outreach activities, so this idea to discuss neuroscientific topics that relate to not only scientists, but are of interest to the general public, falls perfectly in line with our institution’s attitude about education. After proposing the idea to our trainees, our department supported its creation. It was easy to find talented, dedicated and bright team trainees that would form an amazing team that made the idea a reality for years to come.
Personal Background:
My family came to the states from Poland before I was born, so I have a hybrid upbringing. I’m very much into working out and I’ll try just about anything from fencing, to yoga, to now learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. During the pandemic, I also picked up a love of gardening and find that despite what I know about development, I am still fascinated by how a tiny little seed can produce so much.
Favorite Quotes:
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~ Albert Einstein
“It ain’t about how hard you hit…It’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward” ~ Rocky 
“People put their faith in scientific progress. When they or a loved one falls ill, someone is hoping that ‘they are working on finding a solution. Maybe there will be a breakthrough in time.’ We are these people. Someone is counting on you. On us. Let’s be rock stars for them.” ~ Joanna