Career Profile

Scientific researcher with interests in neuroscience, artifical intelligence, and computational biology, with experience working on research projects in fields such as molecular and computational neuroscience, organic chemistry, and clinical psychology. Has worked as a researcher and educator, both in and out of formal academic settings, with a special focus on STEM topics, including chemistry, neuroscience, and mathematics. Occasional scientific correspondent for Psymposia Magazine.

Research Projects

Research Projects I have worked on, both independently and as part of teams.

Complexity & Consciousness in Brain Networks - Using human rs-fMRI data from subjects treated with consciousness-altering drugs or suffering from TBI-induced disorders of consciousness to examine how changes in the structure, topology, and entropy of brain networks are associated with changes to the level and quality of consciousness. Current areas of inquiry include changes to the fractal dimension of networks and the algorithmic compressability of both networks and BOLD signals. This project is ongoing.
Classifying Level of Consciousness with Machine Learning - Used human fMRI data from subjects anesthetized with propofol or suffering from TBI-induced disorders of consciousness to train a convolutional neural network to estimate a patient's level of consciousness. This project is ongoing.
Functional Connectivity of the Human Claustrum - Used human fMRI data to explore the functional connectivity networks involving the claustrum, and how those networks change under sedation with propofol or ketamine. This project is ongoing.
5-HT2A receptor & Neurogenesis - Explored the role of the 5-HT2A receptor in regulating neurogenesis in zebrafish. Zebrafish were treated either with N,N-dipropyltryptamine (DPT) or a compination of DPT and ketanserin, and then qPCR was used to detrmine the amounts of BDNF mRNA in the brain tissue.
5-HT2A receptor & Anxiety - Explored the previously-documented anti-anxiety effects of 5-HT2A agonists, using zebrafish as an animal model. Zebrafish were given either DPT, or a combination of DPT and ketanserin, and then their behavior was tested in a Novel Tank Task.
Greening the Diels-Alder Reaction - Assisted in the synthesis of a novel molecule designed to facilitate the completion of a Diels-Alder reaction in aqueous solutions. Completed the multi-step synthesis and work up, verifying each step with with 1 H NMR.
Circadian Rhythms of Salivary Dopamine - Worked as a research assistant analyzing salivary dopamine concentration over 24hr periods from a variety of human volunteers. Collected and purified saliva samples using solid-phase extraction, and analyzed with HPLC.
Gene Expression in the Claustrum - Used data from the Allen Brain atlas to search for gene expression specific to the claustrum. Thepurpose was to seek out knock-out targets to help determine the role the claustrum serves in the brain.
Mystical Experience Among College Students - Designed and executed a survey study examining the history of mystical experiences among college-aged respondents and the correlations between lifetime mystical experiences and mental health. Also examined the relationship between psychoactive substance use, mystical experiences, and psychopathology.

Employment & Volunteering

MPhil Student

2017 - Present
University of Cambridge & United Kingdom

MPhil Student in Clinical Neurosciences, working at Addenbrooke's Hospital, in the University Department of Anesthetics. Contributing to on-going projects related to the neuarl mechanisms of anesthesia, and the role of functional connectivity in the maintenance of consciousness, under both anesthesia and in cases of traumatic brain injury.

Mathematics Tutor

2016 - 2017
Boston & Washington, DC

Worked as a math tutor for children and young adults struggling with mathematical concepts. Covered material from arithmetic up through calculus. Assessed student skills and needs, explained concepts, and graded completed work.

Independent Researcher

2015 - 2016
Hampshire College, MA

Worked as an independent researcher on the 5-HT2Ar research projects, funded by grants from the Coppinger Fund and the Culture, Brain & Development Program. Designed and executed experiments and protocols, as well as analyzed the data and wrote up findings. Oversaw a team of research assistents as well.

Teaching Assistant for Organic Chemistry I

2016
Hampshire College, Amherst

Volunteered as a teaching assistant for Organic Chemistry I. Help office-hours and group study-sessions for students who needed help with problem sets and extra tutoring. Also helped set up the laboratory prior to lab classes and helped oversee students as they worked through projects, assisting when they needed help completing a protocol.

Research Assistant

2015
Smith College, Northampton

Worked as a Research Assistant on the salivary dopamine project. Completed background research as needed, executed protocols, analyzed data, as well as maintaining the lab by cleaning glassware, restocking reagents, and preparing solutions.

Student Representative to the School of Natural Science

2015 - 2016
Amherst, MA

Met weekly with faculty and staff from the school of Natural Sciences to discuss and vote on school and college policies. Topics of discussion included hiring of temporary and permanent faculty, reviewing professors eligable for rehiring, school policy. Provided a voice for students and advocated for the interests of the student body.

Emergency Medical Technician

2014 - 2016
Amherst, MA

Worked as an EMT Basic as part of Hampshire College's EMS squad. Certified as an EMT nationally and in the state of Massachusetts. Worked 12-hour on-call shifts, days and overnights, responding to medical or psychiatric crisis. Ran calls as a senior EMT. As a senior EMT, helped oversee the hiring of new EMTs, designed training exercises for junior EMTs, and met with both school administrators and representatives of the student body.

Skills & Proficiency

Biology Laboratory Skills

Chemistry Laboratory Skills

Statistical Analysis & Machine Learning

Python

Rust

Open Office

Teamwork & Leadership

Publications

Preprints

Varley T., A proposal for the role of Layer V 5-HT2A receptors in cognition and perception. 2016

Varley T., Castorino J., Gill C., Exposure to the indolealkylamine psychedelic N,N-dipropyltryptamine enhances BDNF mRNA expression in the heads of mature zebrafish. 2016

Popular Press

Varley T., "Of Molecules and Minds: The Science of Ayahuasca," Psymposia Magazine, 2017

Varley T., "Do psychedelics trigger neurogenesis? Here's what we know," Psymposia Magazine, 2016