Samantha received her B.A from Cambridge University, working in Michael Akam’s laboratory, where she was instilled with a love of developing systems. She joined Yash Hiromi’s lab, then at Princeton University, for her Ph.D. studying the genetic mechanisms that establish cell fate in the Drosophila eye. Since neurons had become increasingly important to her as she lost them during her years as a graduate student, she joined Jane Dodd’s laboratory at Columbia University to examine axon guidance mechanisms in the developing vertebrate spinal cord.
In her own laboratory as a Professor at UCLA, Samantha explores how the developmental mechanisms that first establish neural circuits can be reused to ameliorate damaged or diseased nervous systems. She holds the Eleanor I. Leslie Chair in Pioneering Brain Research, and is funded by the NIH, CIRM, Department of Defense, March of Dimes and the Ablon, Rose Hills, Craig H. Neilsen and Jean Perkins foundations. She is currently Vice Chair for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Department of Neurobiology.