Kenneth H. Britten
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Kenneth H. Britten was born in Washington, DC in 1958, the younger of two brothers. His father, Roy J. Britten, was a biophysicist who made notable achievements in the heyday of genetics, working at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and later at the California Institute of Technology. Kenneth Britten's mother, Barbara H. Britten, was primarily a homemaker, but who would later be involved in defending marine environmental causes in Washington, DC. Due to his father's strong influence and his early appreciation for the outdoors, Britten knew from an early age that he wanted to study biology. Britten received his BS in biology from the California Institute of Technology in 1980. Britten's interest in neuroscience increased greatly as a result of an integrative neuroscience course taught by Jack D. Pettigrew. Research in Mark Konishi's lab led Britten to neuroethology. He then took a year off to travel around the American continent before applying to graduate school. He matriculated into the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he studied receptive visual fields in David H. Cohen's lab and received his PhD in neurobiology in 1987. Britten remained at the State University of New York, Stony Brook to pursue his postdoctoral research in William T. Newsome's lab and later moved with Newsome to his new lab at Stanford University. Britten and Newsome worked together very closely, using psychophysics to map and measure the neuromechanics of perceptive visual fields in primates. It was through these projects that Britten developed his current scientific focus and research. In 1993, Britten was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior at the University of California, Davis where he received academic tenure as an associate professor in 1999. Since his arrival at the University of California, Davis, Britten has focused on specific areas of extrastriate visual cortex in primates and how they respond to complex visual stimuli. Throughout his oral history Britten emphasizes the need to remain enthusiastic about one's occupation and the importance of balancing professional responsibilities and free time. He has received several grants, including a fellowship, and most notably a Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant, which he discusses in the oral history interview.
|1980||California Institute of Technology||BS|
|1987||State University of New York at Stony Brook||PhD|
State University of New York at Stony Brook
University of California, Davis
|1981 to 1984||
Graduate Council Fellowship, State University of New York, Stony Brook
|1994 to 1998||
Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences
Table of Contents
Father's Influence. Interest in Biology. Mother. Ancestors. The Outdoors. Schools. Influential Teachers. Summer Ecology Trips. Boating and Sailing.
California Institute of Technology. Choosing a College. Discoveringneuroscience. Influential professors. Jack D. Pettigrew's lab. Neuroethology. Social scene. Applying to graduate schools. Taking a year off. Trips to Alaska and Mexico. Gary Lynch's lab.
State University of New York, Stony Brook. Balancing life and academics. David H. Cohen's lab. Receptive visual field research. Independence as graduate student. Thesis.
State University of New York, Stony Brook. William T. Newsome's lab. Follows Newsome to Stanford University. Perceptual psychology. Psychophysics.
High school influences. Religion and science. Nature. Parental expectations. Grades. Difficulties with mathematics.
Applying for Jobs. Help from William T. Newsome. Working at the University of California, Davis. Funding.
Grant Writing. Receives Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences award. Lab management. Publication. Competition and cooperation. Gender and race in science. Tenure. Teaching. Administrative duties. Current research and its applications.
Patents. Funding. Ethics of genetic modification. Scientific responsibility. Quality control. Technology. New ideas. Personal happiness. Professional goals.