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I was born in Dallas and spent my childhood scampering through the countrysides of central and eastern Texas, with brief escapades in Maryland and Utah. I began medical school in San Antonio, where I met my wife and future psych co-resident Kristin Budde. After my PhD, we moved together to New Haven, where I finished med school. I enjoy writing about neuroscience as a way to think through some of the problems that come up in clinic. I spend a great chunk of my time thinking about and researching how to develop useful biomarkers of brain disease. When I'm not at the hospital or working on research stuff, I'll be fixing up my 1920s New England house.

Scientific American

Can We Measure Delusions?

Published online at Scientific American on March 19, 2018. It was midday when an ambulance brought Rose to the Emergency Department. The triage nurses, with their characteristic knack for brevity, had written “50 year old schizophrenic woman hearing/seeing dead boyfriend.” The medical team had done the standard workup—temperature, blood pressure, EKG, labs to screen for an electrolyte imbalance, drug or...

Scientific American

What Makes Friends Vibe?

Published online at on February 20, 2018. Think about your friends—the people you spend a lot of time with, see movies with, those people you’d text to grab a drink or dinner after a long week. Now think back to why you first became friends and ask yourself: was it because you like them? Or because you are like them? A recent study, led...

Scientific American

Why Don’t Babies Smile from Birth?

Published online at on February 6, 2018. When my son was born a few months ago, he quickly established himself as the tyrant of  our household, one that ruled with a singular phonetic ultimatum (“Oooo—whaaah”), tiny iron fists clutched in fury, and a face that roiled like the churning sea. His placid silence instantly devolved to wrath, wrath (once...

Scientific American

The Chronification of Pain

Published online at Scientific American on December 29, 2017. Earlier this year, I wrote about my patient, Andrew, an engineer who developed a heroin habit. An unfortunate series of joint replacements had left Andrew with terrible pain and, when his medication ran out, he turned to heroin. Months after his surgeries—after his tissue and scars had healed—Andrew remained disabled by a...

Scientific American

The Economics of Paid Parental Leave

Published online at Scientific American on November 29, 2017. In my last piece, “The Neuroscience of Paid Parental Leave,” I discussed how infants’ attachment with their parents is critically involved in brain development. I described a bizarre paradox wherein physician trainee programs don’t provide trainees the types of leave recommended by their own organizations (like the American Academy of Pediatrics). In response,...

Scientific American

The Neuroscience of Paid Parental Leave

Published on Scientific American on October 30, 2017. (BTW: the pic is of me with Everett! Everett was 1.5 wks old and we wandered out to Bishop’s Apple Orchard.) As a new father, I’ve learned that the U.S. ranks at the very bottom of industrialized nations for paid parental leave. Denmark offers a year. Italy offers five months. France offers 16 weeks;...

Scientific American

Scientists, Break Out of That Ivory Tower

Published online at Scientific American on September 28, 2017. “Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.” Rosalind Franklin Recently, The Atlantic senior editor James Hamblin discussed how nearly all major physician organizations have spoken out publicly against the Senate’s Graham–Cassidy health care bill. In fact, throughout this year’s string of health care reform bills these physician organizations have encouraged their members...

Scientific American

New Hope for Children Who Nearly Drown

Conrad was 17 months old when Dave, his grandfather, was babysitting him at their home in Temple, Texas. The two had been playing in the pool and went inside for a break. Dave set to unloading dishes in the dishwasher, unaware that Conrad had snuck back outside. As he finished the dishes, Dave looked out the window and noticed something...

Short Stories

Beyond Numbers

Written in 2013. I loathed numbers.  The absolutism—the nerve! “Why number at all?” say I. No one ever understood something through numbers. Does knowing there are seven thingamabobs tell you anything about the thingamabob itself? The very idea of numbers: who came up with it? Greeks? Arabs? Renaissane-cy men? I wanted to do away with numbers entirely. But frankly, I...