Born in Shanghai (international connection woohoo!) Liu moved to the US and received his Ph.D from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Liu was able to create “smart flies” during his time at Baylor by changing the expression of a certain gene in the fly brain. He used the fly model for research about learning and memory. He was also able to use light in order to obtain live imaging of how memories form. This exploration with light and memory led to his co-development of the use of optogenetics in manipulating memory at MIT. Xu Liu is lauded as a notable young neuroscientist and commended for his fearlessness. It was Xu Liu’s hope that his discoveries could lay the ground work for the development of treatments for memory related diseases such as PTSD or Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately Xu Liu passed away almost a year ago on February 18th at the age of 37, and left the scientific community with the opportunity to pick up where he left off.
Ramirez is a student at MIT pursuing a Ph.D in neuroscience in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department. The research done with Xu Liu is the first notable contribution Ramirez has made to the scientific community, but one that attracted a lot of media attention. This is because the experiment was able to accomplish Ramirez’s goal to pluck “questions from the tree of science fiction [and] ground them in experimental reality.” He hopes to become a professor and help curious students explores similar interests.