Chris Eliasmith

They’ll Never Take His Freedom

He's a jack of all trades inside and outside the neuroscience lab, using any method he can to find scientific answers -- and have fun.


Prof. Chris Eliasmith is the Director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo. We asked him everything from why he became a scientist to what’s on his playlist in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What inspired you to become a scientist?
I simply became very interested in how our minds work. I didn’t necessarily think of this as a scientific question, just an interesting question. As a result, my lab employs methods from engineering, biology, psychology, computer science, and philosophy to address this question. After all, it’s a very interdisciplinary question. So, my inspiration really comes from the amazing abilities of the brain, and a desire to get a modicum of understanding of how it works.

What do you like most about being a scientist?
The freedom to pursue what I find interesting. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I can do anything with my time, but the amount of freedom in academic scientific settings far outstrips that found in many other careers. Essentially, I like that I can use my time to figure out how the brain works.

What advice would you give young researchers?
Shape your career around a question, not a methodology or a field.

What’s on your playlist?
Mostly alternative rock, heavy funk, and bands I’ve been in.

What do you like to do for fun?
Hang out with my family, play hockey, camping, climbing, playing a variety of musical instruments.