The MetaNerds staff spotlight most recently featured "Joltin'" Jared, one of the whip-smart people working at Meta. In this installment of MetaNerds, we had the pleasure of sitting down with "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems" Moqian, a neuroscientist from Stanford. Read on to discover her adventures in gastronomy, what she finds refreshing at Meta, and how her work in neuroscience helps Meta develop truly intuitive and immersive augmented reality.
Q&A with Moqian, One of Meta's Neuroscientists:
Victor: Thanks for making time to chat with me. So let's get this straight: are you a real neuroscientist?
Moqian: I am not.
Moqian: I consider myself a vision scientist and neuroscientist.
But you just said you're not a neuroscientist.
Moqian: Right. It's a logical fault.
I'm confused now.
Moqian: So when I say I'm a neuroscientist, I consider most of my work to fall under neuroscience, but my research work has primarily been in vision science.
That's too much science for me.
So prior to coming to Meta, did you come straight from –
Oh wow, I didn't even finish my question and you already answered it.
Moqian: (laughs) Yes, I came from academia.
So that means you're a mind-reader then?
Moqian: No, it means I'm just smarter than you.
(laughs) I regret asking you to sit down for this Q&A.
Moqian: (laughs) To answer your question, my work has been in psychology, specializing in neuroscience. My work has focused on how people perceive 3D objects, and the lab I was a part of focused on neuroimaging and human behavior studies.
Oh gosh, so many brainiacs here at Meta.
Moqian: What's that?
A brainiac? It's an informal term for someone who's really smart.
Moqian: Oh. I don't get American slang.
Yeah me neither (laughs). Getting back on track with our interview, so why did you come to Meta? Your credentials are top notch – you could have landed a job at any top tech company here in Silicon Valley.
Moqian: I think Meta is a really innovative company with a vision that resonates with me. Meta really cares about achieving the most natural kind of human interaction with computers, which is something that hasn't been done before. From my time working here, I've noticed that everyone working here is committed to making the best, most intuitive computing device. And I enjoy using my specialty in neuroscience and vision science, along with using all of my different skills to conduct studies, to help build the most exciting device.
Isn't the most exciting device the latest iPhone?
Moqian: Sure, but it's still in 2D (laughs).
(laughs) So when you're not busy being a neuroscientist, what do you do in your free time?
Moqian: Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.
Oh my. I hope HR doesn't get involved with this interview.
Moqian: (laughs) In all seriousness, I don't have one thing that I just do constantly. I like to try new things. For example, I like cooking new things, especially combining unusual and different ingredients – basically gastronomy.
Ooooweee! We got ourselves an Iron Chef here! I've never met a gastronmist before. The closest thing that comes to mind are my hipster foodie friends. So what do you like combining?
Moqian: I've made a few Chinese pizzas.
Wait, so what goes in a Chinese pizza? I'm afraid to know more...
Moqian: (laughs) A garlic eggplant dish with fish sauce.
Did the fish sauce replace the traditional tomato sauce that goes on a pizza?
Moqian: Yes and I replaced cheese with egg.
Wow, was it good?
Moqian: Yes! Another time on Christmas, I made lime basil caviar with a technique called spherification, which basically makes caviar-like spheres with lime basil blend. It’s a simple technique dealing with the PH of solutions.
Dang, so you apply science to everything you do. Switching gears here, can you tell me more about what gets you excited about the work you do here?
Moqian: (long silence)
Hey, don't try to say everything at once now.
Moqian: (laughs) I feel like you’re looking for one answer, but it’s a combination of many things. Like for example, I feel like I'm involved in several important projects and I’m not just a cog in a big machine. I understand how my daily work will contribute to the end product. That’s very important to someone especially from academia because in academia, everyone has a very independent mindset and I feel that a start-up like Meta provides great opportunities to achieve many things.
I wholeheartedly agree with you there.
Moqian: Yeah, and I really like the people at Meta – everyone here is super smart. Except for the guy who is interviewing me.
I now really regret sitting down with you for this chat (laughs). Thanks again for your time, Moqian!
Want to join the Meta team? In our previous lives, we were particle physicists working on the Stanford Linear Collider, punk rock stars who opened for Bad Religion, and educators teaching in the South Side of Chicago. Now, we're all creating technology designed for more meaningful connections.