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ByTom MillerThe Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

Click here for Sue’s profile.

Why in the world is neurobiologist Sue Barry jumping on a trampoline?

We’ll get to that shortly. But first, let’s go back to what first got Sue interested in studying the brain. She explained to us –

“What really struck me about any creature was that it was always adapting to its environment. And I began to think, ‘What’s the most adaptable organ in our bodies?’ And the most adaptable organ is our brain.”

Sue Barry was born to bounce in 3D

So Sue studied the brain. And she did it well enough to become a professor of neurobiology and researcher at Mt. Holyoke College. An expert in her field, Sue may not have realized yet that even with all of her professional success, the brain she would learn the most from would be her own.

You see Sue was born cross-eyed and unable to see in three dimensions. Childhood surgery corrected her crossed eyes, but still left her living in a visual world that was “flat” and two dimensional. Sue couldn’t focus both her eyes on the same point at the same time – the key to stereoscopic 3D vision. And in spite of her belief in the brain’s adaptability, she always thought she herself was stuck in her 2D world. And she accepted it.

Original funding for "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.