NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley
Benjamin Smarr is a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley. His scientific research focuses on developing predictive medical applications using signal processing to find temporal structures in the flow of continuous biometric outputs through time. Using these approaches, he has published peer-review papers demonstrating the ability to predict internal hormonal changes from a person's wrist temperature and techniques for accurately predicting the outcome of pregnancies in mice from within hours of conception. He is also the first to show that in utero disruptions to biological timing systems have lifelong effects on cognitive development. He has published work using human, rodent, and computational model systems.
Benjamin has won multiple awards from the Society for Research in Biological Rhythms, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation. He earned his Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of Washington in Seattle in 2012. While in graduate school, Benjamin served as the student president for the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering and also served as president of the Neurobiology Community Outreach group. He continues to take an active role in science outreach, working with K-12 schools, community groups, and biomedical- and wearable-device companies to spread awareness of the value of science and the importance of biological timing in health.
Benjamin works across multiple time scales of biology, including seasonal, ovulatory, daily, and hourly cycles. Remarkably little is known about the way these cycles enable physical and mental health, especially as regards women's health and pregnancy. Through collaborations with sensor design engineers, clinical investigations, and a growing citizen-science community, Benjamin is mapping the temporal structures that allow accurate personal predictors across a range of applications, including cancer, infection, fertility, and education.