Emma Odom

How I got into science

To be a scientist is to ask and pursue questions. In my mind, everyone is a scientist. Since I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t asking questions, I will say that my father reading an astrophysics textbook to me as a newborn is “how I got into science.” As a child, I remember building a house for my toy hamster out of a cardboard box and a repurposed metal axel with plastic wheels. Little did I know how similar my play would be to my professional research work with mice. Middle school science fair is where my scientific curiosity began to show. In fifth grade I swabbed various regions around my house and grew the bacteria on petri dishes. My results indicated that there was significantly more bacteria on the refrigerator door handle than the bathroom toilet seat! In seventh grade, out of spite with my parents for restricting my sugar intake and inspiration from an article suggesting that food coloring in candy was the real cause of hyperactivity, I decided to evaluate whether sugar-free or food-coloring-free gummy bears would lead to hyperactivity in elementary school children. I wrote parent waivers for participation in the study and created feedback forms for the teachers to complete. As you might expect the results were fuzzy, but my interest for how small molecules impact behavior continues.

When I began studying at Boston University, I chose to pursue neuroscience because I am fascinated by the brain. How can a molecule so small, on the nanometer scale, affect my mood? How can a memory be stored in a chemical connection between neurons? Is there a physical basis to cognition? Entering my junior year, I decided to double major with neuroscience and chemistry to pursue a more fundamental understanding of how molecular mechanisms might contribute to brain function. With the Ramirez Lab, I am thrilled to study how the cellular representation of memory changes over time. In the future, I hope to explore the potential for quantum mechanics to play a role in neuronal communication.

Non-science biography:

I am from Dallas, Texas and proudly carry the open-hearted culture with me. I will talk to anyone and love to learn people’s stories. In any moment where I am not in class or at the lab, you can find me dancing. I dance with the Harvard Ballet Company. With HBC I co-choreographed and produced a video piece titled “Dancing in the Rain” during Fall 2020 to acknowledge the continued passion and ability to find a way to dance, even through a pandemic.



The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli


It’s a Wonderful Life or The Theory of Everything


Nat Geo


Léon, Jose Gonsalez, Rainbow Kitten Surprise


Bread and Chocolate




Ballet, always dancing

Coffee, friend or foe:

A recent acquaintance (thanks to our lab)

One thing I’m sorry I’m not sorry about

I don’t quit. Whether it is a complicated math problem or a tub of talenti, I will finish it.

What I look for in a scientist

Passion and humility.