Neuroscience Research for the Future - soundwave image courtesy


David Cinalli, Ph.D.

Neuroscience Research for the Future

Postdoctoral Fellow Strives to Inspire New Neuroscientists

David Cinalli, Ph.D., learned the science behind how a person’s auditory system works, he made the leap from studying chemistry to neuroscience.

“Learning about how sound waves are converted into a neural signal by the auditory system blew my mind,” said Cinalli, who earned a bachelor’s in psychology from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, a master’s and doctorate in behavioral neuroscience from Florida Atlantic’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

As a graduate student, Cinalli focused his research on understanding how the brain encodes, consolidates and recalls different forms of memory in laboratory mice, specifically for treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. Simultaneously, he worked as a graduate fellow leading neuroscience lessons for middle school students with FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute’s Advancing STEM: Community Engagement through Neuroscience Discovery program (ASCEND). Through this fellowship position, he discovered his passion for outreach and education. Now, Cinalli is a postdoctoral fellow in neuroscience community engagement and director of the MobileMinds program.

“There are so many students that don’t have the opportunities that I had and giving back to our community has always been important to me,” he said. “As scientists, we can often become singularly focused on our research – and understandably so – it takes years of hard work and dedication to tackle a single research question … it’s also incredibly important to communicate to the public the importance of the work that is going on in neuroscience research.”

As a postdoctoral fellow, Cinalli’s research focuses on developing the metrics to track the impact of the neuroscience community engagement programs; reporting on the successful operations; and establishing teacher training programs and educational content available to science teachers around the world. Additionally, Cinalli is charged with leading a team of postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students in delivering hands-on activities and neuroscience education lessons to area middle school students. Specifically, Cinalli and the ASCEND team utilize the MobileMinds program, a mobile van equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and neuroscience education activities, to bring scientists and activities to Title I schools, reaching historically underserved communities.

“We hope to impact students at an age where we see interest in STEM subjects drop off sharply and inspire them to consider careers in science and technology,” Cinalli said.

Business leader and health-science advocate David J. S. Nicholson, recently donated the ASCEND program an additional three years of funding as part of his $10 million gift to the University in 2021.

I absolutely love my job,” Cinalli said. “Teaching is my passion, and my main goal is to make learning fun – and we do just that.”

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