On Wednesday, January 11, the MGH Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging will stage its first-ever talent show, aptly titled: “The Martinos Center’s Got Talent!” The event will showcase the many, varied talents of folks from across the center, from accordion playing to ballroom dancing, from stand-up comedy to Rubik’s cube solving. It will undoubtedly be a night to remember.
Following is a preview of what audiences will see and hear on Wednesday. The talent show won’t be open to the public but stay tuned for video of all of the center’s amazing talent!
Caroline Magnain is an assistant professor at the Martinos Center. Throughout her career, she has strived to apply optical imaging to various domains, from cultural heritage to the biomedical science, and has developed experimental set-ups, optical simulations, and image analysis software. She was the first to apply optical coherence tomography and microscopy (OCT/OCM) to image the human brain postmortem to visualize its cellular and fiber organizations. In 2019, she joined the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) as one of 17 scientists participating in a $17 million program to bring more optical imaging expertise to biomedical research.
Caroline’s passion for illuminating the world around her and revealing all its intricacies extends beyond her life in the lab. “Like in my research work, in my own time I love to image what surrounds me,” she says. “I can be in a city or in the middle of nowhere, I look for the small detail, the symmetry, the pop of color. I love the play of light and shadow.
“Recently, I have also tried my hand at pouring (thanks pandemic). It’s fun, it’s messy, it’s easy, it’s colorful!”
She will display some of her work during the talent show. You can find more of her creations on her website.
Kaisu Lankinen is a postdoctoral fellow in the Auditory Cognition Lab led by Jyrki Ahveninen. In her research, she focuses on functions of auditory cortex and its interactions with other brain areas using 7T fMRI and MEG. She has been a member of the Martinos community for the past three years.
In addition to pursuing her research, Kaisu actively plays accordion. She is originally from Finland and has played and performed regularly with folk dance groups both in Finland and abroad. She likes to play folk and classical music and is currently studying jazz, composition and improvisation.
For the talent show, she will perform a Hungarian folk dance, or czardas.
Iman Aganj joined the Martinos Center in 2011 and is now an assistant professor. He focuses on innovating new medical image analysis techniques geared toward the improvement of human health. Iman’s research interests include medical image registration and segmentation, diffusion MR image reconstruction and analysis, and brain connectivity quantification.
Iman is a self-taught amateur piano player. Last year, he took online music composition classes sponsored by an MGH well-being grant, which sparked the idea of making and sharing piano solos as a hobby. Search for ‘imanaganj‘ in your favorite streaming service and have a listen!
Underwater Photography & Video
Giorgio Bonmassar is an associate professor in the Martinos Center and principal investigator of the Analog Brain Imaging Lab. His research focuses on the development and pre-clinical testing of novel methods for performing MRI / CT compatible neuro-electrophysiological measurements and stimulations, with a goal of improving the care of patients with neural implants and better understanding human brain function using data from multiple varied biomedical monitoring technologies.
For the past 25 years, Giorgio has also been a diver and an underwater photographer and videographer. This fascinating pursuit has taken him around the world in cold and warm waters. His many destinations include the Whitsunday Islands, Palau, Venice, Cozumel, Palmarola, Cancun, Honolulu, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, La Paz, Florida Keys, Isla Coronado, San Diego Bay, Cape Cod, Cape Ann (MA), Newport (RI), Torre Lapillo (Puglia, Italy), Galapagos, Tahiti, the Big Island of Hawaii, and the Komodo Islands. See here for examples of his work.
After providing an overview of underwater photography and discussing some of its challenges, Giorgio will present photos and videos from his last trip to the Komodo Islands 250 nautical miles east of Bali. The islands are a world heritage site and a National Park in a region of Indonesia known as Nusa Tenggara.
If you sit down for a cup of coffee with Anand Kumar, you might learn something new and fascinating about fluorescence lifetime imaging. Or you might fall into a lengthy discussion about the genius of John Williams and his iconic scores for the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter movies. Or, you might be regaled with stories of virtual brawls in online forums devoted to digital samples of orchestral instruments.
Whichever it is, you’ll surely soon discover that Anand has a deep and abiding love of music that nearly equals his passion for science. And he isn’t only a fan of the aural arts. He is also a performer — he has been since he was barely a teenager playing Indian classical music on a hand-me-down guitar — and a composer with a particular interest in scoring films.
Among his many musical pursuits, Anand has taught himself to play piano in the Western classical tradition. On Wednesday, he will perform Nocturne in B-flat minor, Op. 9, No. 1 by Frédéric Chopin, joining the showcase by way of a prerecorded video.
Anand is an associate professor at the Martinos Center whose research is focused on development and translation of novel biomedical optical techniques for preclinical and clinical applications. He has more than 15 years of experience in theory, modeling and experimental aspects of biological optical imaging.
Mike Datko is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Martinos Center with a dual postdoctoral appointment at the Cambridge Health Alliance Center for Mindfulness and Compassion. His research focuses on how mindfulness meditation training affects interoceptive awareness and regulation of the central and autonomic nervous systems in patients with anxiety, mood disorders, and chronic pain.
Mike will share a talent he calls “funk-tional MRI,” a musical performance in which he plays a digital drum set he programmed to play recorded samples of MRI scanner sounds. Starting with full audio recordings from a variety of scanner pulse sequences (functional, structural, diffusion, MRS, localizers, pre-scans, shimming, etc.), he used audio editing software to create a collection of very short, percussive MRI sounds and saved those as individual files. He then mapped each of those short sound files to different parts of an electronic drum kit (or different keys on a keyboard in another case) using a digital audio sampling program.
Jason Stockmann will give a solo piano performance of Wolfgang Mozart’s “Twelve Variations on ‘Ah vous dirai-je, Maman’ in C major, K. 265” (composed circa 1781). The simple melody, borrowed from an 18th-century French children’s song, is also used in several English-language tunes. Mozart’s variations came to Jason’s rescue when, during the height of the pandemic, a toy owned by his toddler son played the tune so many times that it lodged itself in Jason’s head, becoming an “earworm” and threatening his sanity. Thankfully, ever since Jason discovered K. 265, the children’s tune now conjures Mozart’s delightful piece instead. Each of the 12 variations has a different musical texture and personality, ranging from sparkling and playful, to serene, to wistful and melancholy. While the same basic harmonic progression recurs through the work, listen for the one variation that sets the theme in the parallel minor key (C-minor), adding depth to an otherwise lighthearted piece, and showcasing Mozart’s skill in evoking many contrasting moods from one simple tune.
Jason is an assistant professor in the Martinos Center working with both the Magnetic Resonance Physics & Instrumentation Group and the Low-field MRI and Hyperpolarized Media Laboratory. He is broadly interested in magnetic resonance imaging hardware and acquisition methods for improving data quality for both structural and functional imaging. He specializes in developing synergistic combinations of hardware, pulse sequences, and image reconstruction algorithms that address unmet needs in MRI research, especially for diffusion and functional brain imaging.
Jason has been playing piano since (almost) his own toddlerhood. He enjoys collaborating with vocalists and instrumentalists to play chamber music in his abundant free time.
Rubik’s Cube Solver
Shasha Li is an assistant professor and principal investigator of the Translational Neuroimage, Neuromodulation, and Neurorehabilitation Lab at the Martinos Center. Her research focuses on developing novel insights into the altered brain network in neurological diseases and investigating the neurophysiological correlation between neurological disorders and the mechanism of non-invasive brain stimulation in clinical applications. In addition to her research and scholarly activities, she is the course director of Intermediate Medical Mandarin at Harvard Medical School and a faculty mentor of MD and PhD candidates.
Shasha is obsessed with puzzles. She has been since high school, and says her love of solving things and building things out of thousands of tiny pieces has never faltered – despite the -13 eye prescription her obsession has earned her!
She discovered the Rubik’s cube during the 2020 lockdown and found it to be the least expensive and most exciting puzzle and a perfect way to pass the time with her three sons during the lockdown. “I am not an expert on cubing,” she says. “However, I wanted to show the ‘Mom in Science’ spirit: you can solve it; you can do it; you only need practice. That is also the secret of talent.”
Songs on Guitar
Chris Bridge is an Instructor in the Quantitative Translational Imaging in Medicine (QTIM) lab. He joined the Martinos Center full time last October from his previous role at the MGB Data Science Office. His research is focused on the application of machine learning methodologies to medical imaging, and the translation of ML models into practice.
Chris has been playing guitar since he was a teenager. At the peak of his musical fame as an undergraduate student he was involved in a cheesy rock/pop cover band called “Rehash” that just about managed to play at a few student parties. Now he prefers moody Indie/Folk and tonight he will be playing acoustic songs by The Tallest Man on Earth and Iron & Wine.
Jennifer Murphy is a clinical research coordinator in the Pain and Neuroinflammation Imaging Lab collaborating with Jodi Gilman at the Center for Addiction Medicine on a study that investigates the effectiveness of cannabidiol on reducing neuroinflammation associated with chronic low back pain. She graduated as a National Merit Scholar from The University of Texas at Dallas in 2022 with an Honors BS in Biology and a minor in Public Health. While in school, she was a member of the Dallas Symphony Chorus and a piano accompanist for various vocal and instrumental classes, as well as the director of the university’s premier a cappella group and music director of the LCA Alumni Musical Theatre program.
Bruce Jenkins, a member of the Martinos community for more than three decades, is a pioneer of pharmacological MRI. He has published extensively on the relationship between pharmacological agents and functional connectivity in the brain and was one of the first to work out the principles of dopamine-mediated neurovascular coupling.
He is also a bit of a comedian. Literally. Back in the nineties, he performed regularly at the “Catch a Rising Star” comedy club in Harvard Square, working alongside the likes of David Cross. He graciously agreed to return to the stage for the Martinos Center talent show, and promised to at least try to keep things family-friendly. He provided the following blurb for the event:
“Bruce performed stand-up comedy for a number of years at various venues in Boston but mainly at the old ‘Catch a Rising Star’ in Harvard Square. Had you caught his show then you might have been disappointed to find out you weren’t actually watching a rising star. His work has been described by critics as ‘A mind-numbing, soul-grinding descent into the depths of banality’ and ‘An apocalyptic foray into the tedium that might accompany one while waiting for the heat death of the universe, but not as bad as Cats.’
“Some shadow government agency has removed all the existing records of the ancient performances. For those who might wish (but would be strongly advised not to), there is a chopped-up record of an old gig that was a fundraiser for a child with leukemia that is available on YouTube under the moniker ‘Belmont Comedy Fund-Raiser.’ When the NIH stops funding him he may go back to doing stand-up – and Science’s gain will be stand-up Comedy’s loss.”
The TIM Trio (Marco Loggia, Matt Rosen, Mike Datko)
Coming up with a band name isn’t easy. Marco, Matt and Mike considered several ideas before settling on the TIM Trio, including Los Tres Teslas (this was “too high field” for Matt) and Guns N’ Rosen (Matt shot this down – pun intended – as too Rosen-centric). Why the TIM Trio? “If it requires an explanation,” Marco says, “you won’t find it funny anymore.”
Marco is at the keys, Matt is at the bass, and Mike is at the drums (again). The trio has been practicing, Marco says, in what may well be the “coolest rehearsal space in the world”: the Low-Field MRI and Hyperpolarized Media Laboratory at the Martinos Center. They plan to play a funky medley.
But who are they? Marco is an associate professor at the Martinos Center, director of the Pain and Neuroinflammation Imaging Lab and co-director of the Center for integrative Pain NeuroImaging (CiPNI). Through his work, he has made myriad contributions to elucidating the role of neuroinflammation in human pain and other conditions. Marco has played semi-professionally as a pianist/keyboardist in multiple bands, mostly in Italy but also in Canada and the US. His longest musical stints have been with a rhythm ’n’ blues band (amazingly called “Camarillo Brillos and the Magic Bones”), Pink Floyd tribute bands (two different ones!) and a Gospel choir. In his youth, he played hundreds of gigs in bars, clubs, assorted other seedy joints, and even the famous “San Vittore” prison of Milan (multiple times; but not as a detainee, he says).
Matt is a is physicist, tool-builder and inventor whose research runs the gamut from fundamental physics to applied bioimaging work in the field of MRI. He is an associate professor at the Martinos Center and director of the Low-Field MRI and Hyperpolarized Media Laboratory, which develops and applies new methods and tools to enable unconventional approaches to MRI scanner construction. He also co-directs the Center for Machine Learning at the center. Matt started playing bass in 1985 with his punk rock/thrash jazz band. He also plays classical music from Northern India on an instrument called the sarode, which he started learning in 1994 from the great Maestro (Late) Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta.
Mike, as noted above, is postdoctoral research fellow at the Martinos Center with a dual postdoctoral appointment at the Cambridge Health Alliance Center for Mindfulness and Compassion.