About Me

Hello! I am Samuel Naranjo Rincon, a PhD student and amateur boxer. My interests can be summarized into 4 categories: MRI, Brain Networks, Functional Coupling Dynamics, & Geometric Deep Learning.

My Journey

My baptism into academia was not traditional. When I came to the United States in 2010, I was more preoccupied with learning English than learning about the brain. No one in my family had attended college at the time, so that possibility also never crossed my mind. I got into science on a whim. Based on my interest in boxing, I became interested in understanding how the brain could compute so much in so little time and under so much stress. After attending a science fair, I learned all my friend were going to college. So, naturally, I thought, “why not?” I built a foundation in psychology and behavioral sciences at Rollins College and transferred to the University of Central Florida (UCF) in 2019 with the explicit goal of gaining research experience. I was specifically interested in conducting cognitive neuroscience research to understand the neural correlates of behavior. I pursued numerous experiences at UCF to achieve this goal.

During my undergraduate years, I became fascinated by graph theory and large scale brain networks. However, I was open to any kind of “brain” system and so I did not limit my research to human brains. Additionally, graph metrics of brains are usually undirected graphs, by nature of how brain correlations are defined. I became increasingly interested in ways to see “causal” or probable causes of neural activity from visual perception to visual attention. To do this, I knew that I needed to drastically improve my computational skills, so I applied (and was accepted) to the summer neuroscience research program at MIT where I worked under Dr. Robert Desimone and Dr. Diego Mendoza-Halliday. There, I focused on the effective connectivity along the dorsal visual pathway assessed by Phase Slope Index of a rhesus monkey. That fall, I applied to the NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) for 2020 and was awarded an honorable mention.

Prior to enrolling in graduate school, I wanted to gain additional expertise in network neuroscience techniques, so I applied to work in Dr. Anne Krendl’s lab at Indiana University in the spring of 2021. In Dr. Krendl’s lab, I lead two projects using network science and functional brain dynamics approaches to discover how older and youngers adults differ in cognitive performance. In the spring of 2023, I won the GRFP under the cognitive science category for that year. Now, I am a first year PhD student and Olin-Chancellor fellow at the McKelvey school of engineering at Washington University.