Meet the brilliant scientist who just got $625K for her work on a vital, overlooked part of the brain

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MacArthur Foundation

On Sept. 29, the MacArthur Foundation announced the 24 recipients of its $625,000, no-strings-attached, five-year “genius” grants.

Of its seven fellows working in STEM fields, only one is a woman: neuroscientist Beth Stevens, PhD, who studies how brain cells communicate and how miscommunication can lead to disease.

She holds several positions: assistant neurology professor at Harvard Medical School, research associate at Boston Children’s Hospital, and institute member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Stevens’ research focuses on understanding how glial cells (a.k.a. glia) interact with neurons to communicate with one another through synapses. Glia, though not as well-known as neurons, actually make up about half of the brain. That’s why they caught Stevens’ eye.

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