Please excuse the lack of content on the site right now. I’m in the process of rebuilding this site from scratch and will add more information soon. (May 2013)
I’m a Neuroscientist-turned-entrepreneur who works and plays at the intersection of business, improvisation, technology and brain science.
I am Founder and Creative Director of Groupmind Consulting, an innovation and communications consultancy that helps people make creative breakthroughs and authentic connections.
Between my Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering and Post Doc in Neuroscience, I have over a decade of experience studying the human brain at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Vanderbilt University, and Emory University. Since 2000, I have also performed, taught and directed improvisational theatre with companies all over the country. And in the past six years, I have turned an interest in web design and development (initially to market for my improv company) into a thriving digital media business.
I love to help people who care passionately about their work, particularly those who have the courage to take risks, make mistakes, improvise, and grow in pursuit of a creative vision.
For those interested, I’ve done my best tell my story in the next section.
While pursuing my Physics degree as an undergraduate at Rhodes College, I decided to branch out from my science classes. I took several philosophy courses which investigated the nature of consciousness, and I quickly became enthusiastic about understanding the connection between the mind and the brain. I worked my way from Physics to Philosophy of Mind, to Cognitive Psychology, to Neuroscience, and eventually right back to Physics and Engineering as I sought ever more concrete descriptions for what was going on inside our heads.
At the same time, I had joined my college’s improv comedy troup as a way to exercize my creativity and make new friends. While in my academics I was working to define, quantify, and analyze the human brain, in my improv group I was exploring the human experience over and over again in a series of social experiments masked as theatre games. What seemed at first like a fun way to relieve stress would actually become one of my biggest sources of inspiration and insight over the decade to follow.
As college came to a close, I was fortunate enough to secure a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship grant. I was accepted to the Ph.D. program in Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University, where I would continue to explore my curiosity about the brain with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
As a graduate student, improv became even more important to me as a social, creative counterpoint to my increasingly technical research. I wanted to take improv seriously and produce professional-quality shows and classes. This sparked my interest in entrepreneurship, and with some like-minded partners I started Nashville’s first two professional improv comedy companies: Improv Nashville, and later Fusebox Theatre Company. In the past eleven years, I have co-founded and directed five improvisational theatre companies and consulted and performed with with several others. Through classes and workshops, I have taught hundreds of students across the country how to apply the principles of improvisation to performance as well as to business.
My desire to marry the technical aspects of my scientific work with the creative aspects of improvisation, along with the need to keep marketing costs low for my improv companies, led me to explore web design and development while in graduate school. In particular, my discovery of WordPress in 2005 ignited a passion which would eventually lead to the creation of my web strategy and design company, Groupmind Media. Through Groupmind Media I have worked with hundreds of clients all over the world and have spoken at numerous professional events.
I completed my Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at age 27, and shortly thereafter began a post-doctoral fellowship at Emory University. At Emory, I worked on developing new methods for measuring human brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG).
The science was cutting-edge, but something was missing.
Throughout my scientific career, I had been fortunate to work with some of the best scientists in the world on innovative methods for studying the human brain. I had published several academic papers, written a chapter about brain imaging for a textbook, and had my work presented in Stockholm, Kyoto, Budapest, Montreal, and Honolulu, among other locations. But deep down, I never truly felt at home in the world of scientific research (at least from what I had experienced at several prominent universities). I was frustrated with the poor quality of many scientific presentations, the clunky methods of collaborating on complex projects, and the general lack of creativity, playfulness, and teamwork in the daily routine.
Meanwhile, my part time efforts in web design, development, and consulting were offering new and exciting opportunities on a regular basis. I believe much of this success is because Groupmind Media was conceived and built in light of insights from my experiences studying the brain and teaching improvisation. The application of such insights continues to help differentiate Groupmind Media from other web design and development companies.
Finding My Path
For over six years I balanced the workload of full-time scientific research during the day against the responsibilities of running an improv comedy company and a freelance web design business on nights and weekends. It ultimately became clear that I could no longer pursue all (or even most) of these paths. Though I enjoyed the intellectual challenge of studying the human brain, deep down I felt far away from what really mattered to me. It was time to make a choice.
I was determined to focus my skills and passions to excel at the things I genuinely cared about. I wanted to make my own little dent in the universe, and I knew it wasn’t going to happen if I only worked on problems that other people thought were important.
In 2011, I finally listened to my heart. I resigned from my position at Emory and decided to pursue a creative career full time. In some ways, this was one of the scariest decisions of my life. In other ways, it was one of the easiest because I knew it was right.
Now, my unusual combination of skills and interests enables me to work and play at the intersection of technology, business, creativity, and neuroscience. I love to help people who care passionately about their work and who have the courage to take risks, make mistakes, improvise, and grow in pursit of a creative vision.
If this sounds like you or your team, then you should contact me today find out how I can help.
- Post Doctoral Experience in Biomedical Engineering at Emory University (2010-2011)
- Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University (Cum Laude) (2010)
- Primary author of a chapter on functional brain imaging for the textbook Neural Engineering, 2nd Edition (2012)
- Authored research that has been presented in Stockholm, Kyoto, Budapest, Montreal, Honolulu, and more
- B.S. in Physics from Rhodes College (Magna Cum Laude) (2004)
- Received National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2004)
- Phi Beta Kappa (2004)
- Since 2000, have co-Founded, Managed and Directed 5 improv companies in four major cities (Memphis, Nashville, Richmond, Atlanta), including award-winning groups Improv Nashville and Fusebox Theatre Company
- Through classes and workshops, have taught hundreds of students across the country to apply the principles of improvisation to performance, life, and business
- Directed numerous improv ensembles ranging in size from 2-20, performed in hundreds of shows before live audiences
- Developed exceptional public speaking, relationship-building, and listening skills through teaching, directing and performing
- Consulted with corporate clients including Roam Atlanta, Element3Sixty, Vanderbilt University, Gilda’s Club, Journey’s, Emdeon, Virginia Commonwealth University, AD2 Nashville, and more
Web Design & Development
- Founder and Creative Director of Groupmind Media, a web strategy and design agency that helps entrepreneurs, teams and brands develop and execute ideas on the web
- Since 2005, have worked with hundreds of clients all over the world on WordPress projects of all sizes
- Specialized in integrated, concept-to-launch projects including creation and execution of business strategy, design, development, and client education
- Co-Organized WordCamp Atlanta 2012 and have presented at numerous WordPress-related meetings
- Author of several discussion-generating articles on sites such as Go Media, PSDTUTS+, and DIYThemes.com, among others
Want more? Here are some fun facts:
- I believe pasta exists purely as a vehicle for parmesan cheese.
- You’ll never find me without my MacBook Air, iPad, a black Moleskine notebook (graph paper, flexible cover) and a Pilot G2 pen (0.7mm) to capture inspiration as it strikes.
- I am left-handed, but I don’t know of anybody else in my immediate or extended family who is.
- I love testing my ever-increasing threshold for hot sauces, but only on chicken wings. I secretly want to do one of the insane hot wings challenges from Man vs. Food.
- I follow the video games industry closely and I love games that push the limits of technology, creativity, and storytelling.
- I recognize Raiders of the Lost Ark as the greatest movie ever made. This is not an opinion.