FIELD NOTES

Melissa Lee

Meetings

FIELD NOTES

Melissa Lee

Meetings

FIELD NOTES

Melissa Lee

Meetings

Galileo Galilei is revered for many things, perhaps most popularly his heretical discovery that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Less often, he is lauded as the Father of the Scientific Method. It is this latter distinction, however, that afforded the former finding and defined him as the ultimate disrupter. His empirical approach — observation, hypothesis, experimentation — created an historical break so monumental that it separates antiquity from modernity.

It also continues to inspire present-day polymaths like Melissa Lee, a neuroscientist PhD candidate, travel/lifestyle photographer and sustainable fashion enthusiast. “Of all of the systems of thought that we have come up with in our time on Earth,” Lee declares, “the scientific method is the only one (that I know of, at least) that has any sort of predictive power. And, it’s right sometimes! It’s incredible!” She applies the method to her study of the human brain and when seeking answers to what she deems humanity’s essential questions: Who are we? What are we doing here? What does it mean to be human? We’ll second her spirit. In retrospect, it was this precise process that precipitated our journey: We observed an out-of-whack fashion system, theorized that a more mindful and responsible approach would be better for the world and made wMM our disruptive experiment.

 

Meet Melissa.

Galileo Galilei is revered for many things, perhaps most popularly his heretical discovery that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Less often, he is lauded as the Father of the Scientific Method. It is this latter distinction, however, that afforded the former finding and defined him as the ultimate disrupter. His empirical approach — observation, hypothesis, experimentation — created an historical break so monumental that it separates antiquity from modernity.

It also continues to inspire present-day polymaths like Melissa Lee, a neuroscientist PhD candidate, travel/lifestyle photographer and sustainable fashion enthusiast. “Of all of the systems of thought that we have come up with in our time on Earth,” Lee declares, “the scientific method is the only one (that I know of, at least) that has any sort of predictive power. And, it’s right sometimes! It’s incredible!” She applies the method to her study of the human brain and when seeking answers to what she deems humanity’s essential questions: Who are we? What are we doing here? What does it mean to be human? We’ll second her spirit. In retrospect, it was this precise process that precipitated our journey: We observed an out-of-whack fashion system, theorized that a more mindful and responsible approach would be better for the world and made wMM our disruptive experiment.

 

Meet Melissa.

Galileo Galilei is revered for many things, perhaps most popularly his heretical discovery that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Less often, he is lauded as the Father of the Scientific Method. It is this latter distinction, however, that afforded the former finding and defined him as the ultimate disrupter. His empirical approach — observation, hypothesis, experimentation — created an historical break so monumental that it separates antiquity from modernity.

It also continues to inspire present-day polymaths like Melissa Lee, a neuroscientist PhD candidate, travel/lifestyle photographer and sustainable fashion enthusiast. “Of all of the systems of thought that we have come up with in our time on Earth,” Lee declares, “the scientific method is the only one (that I know of, at least) that has any sort of predictive power. And, it’s right sometimes! It’s incredible!” She applies the method to her study of the human brain and when seeking answers to what she deems humanity’s essential questions: Who are we? What are we doing here? What does it mean to be human? We’ll second her spirit. In retrospect, it was this precise process that precipitated our journey: We observed an out-of-whack fashion system, theorized that a more mindful and responsible approach would be better for the world and made wMM our disruptive experiment.

 

Meet Melissa.

How has studying neuroscience influenced your own behavior?

Science teaches you to be a skeptic, which makes me a very wary consumer of information. Which makes me really fun at parties.

 

Are you focused on a particular pathway in neuroscience?

My research focuses on how glia, the non-neuronal cells of the brain, may or may not be involved in instances of miswired brain development, such as in autism or in intellectual disability.

 

As a neuroscience PhD candidate, sustainable fashion enthusiast and travel/lifestyle photographer, you wear a lot of “hats.” How do these worlds intersect or influence each other?

They are inseparable; they are all different faces of my same identity. Each one influences my perspective, and I necessarily bring my perspective to everything that I do.

 

An interesting article about neuroscience. 

How has studying neuroscience influenced your own behavior?

Science teaches you to be a skeptic, which makes me a very wary consumer of information. Which makes me really fun at parties.

 

Are you focused on a particular pathway in neuroscience?

My research focuses on how glia, the non-neuronal cells of the brain, may or may not be involved in instances of miswired brain development, such as in autism or in intellectual disability.

 

As a neuroscience PhD candidate, sustainable fashion enthusiast and travel/lifestyle photographer, you wear a lot of “hats.” How do these worlds intersect or influence each other?

They are inseparable; they are all different faces of my same identity. Each one influences my perspective, and I necessarily bring my perspective to everything that I do.

 

An interesting article about neuroscience. 

A place you go to escape.

When and why was your interest in sustainable fashion born?

My little sister Alice introduced me to the concept years ago, when we were both in college — she was working for some ethical fashion brands based in Uganda and Nashville at the time. It was not something that was even on my radar before she got these jobs, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense to me: Fashion is a beautiful form of expression, and I love the way I feel when I’m wearing an outfit that I really like. But, at the end of the day, it is a total luxury. If we are privileged enough to be able to really think about it, we should at least do it responsibly.

 

If you were to buy an airplane ticket today to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Whenever I plan a trip, I always, always struggle to figure out if I want to go explore some place new or if I want to go learn even more about a place I already know and love. I’m feeling particularly nostalgic right now, though, so I’ll say I would buy a ticket to Taiwan, where my family is from and which I’ve visited approximately every four years of my life. It’s been about four years now, so it’s time for me to go back.

When and why was your interest in sustainable fashion born?

My little sister Alice introduced me to the concept years ago, when we were both in college — she was working for some ethical fashion brands based in Uganda and Nashville at the time. It was not something that was even on my radar before she got these jobs, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense to me: Fashion is a beautiful form of expression, and I love the way I feel when I’m wearing an outfit that I really like. But, at the end of the day, it is a total luxury. If we are privileged enough to be able to really think about it, we should at least do it responsibly.

 

If you were to buy an airplane ticket today to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Whenever I plan a trip, I always, always struggle to figure out if I want to go explore some place new or if I want to go learn even more about a place I already know and love. I’m feeling particularly nostalgic right now, though, so I’ll say I would buy a ticket to Taiwan, where my family is from and which I’ve visited approximately every four years of my life. It’s been about four years now, so it’s time for me to go back.

A song that reminds you of your parents.

A picture from your most recent trip.

A picture of you as a teenager.

A picture from your most recent trip.

A picture of you as a teenager.

How do you take your coffee?

Black, which is very inconvenient for Instagram. The people demand latte art!

What is the most important thing you have learned by traveling?

There are so many valid ways of doing the same thing. It’s something I’m reminded of every time I go somewhere new, and I appreciate the lesson every time.

 

Where you go for travel inspiration.

 

Who have been the greatest teachers in your life?

I’ve had two very influential English teachers — Mark Baker in high school and Arthur Smith in college — who stand out primarily because each believed in me as a writer and went out of his way to help me develop that skill. Outside of the classroom, though, my friends have always been my greatest teachers. I know that sounds cheesy, but it really is true.  

How do you take your coffee?

Black, which is very inconvenient for Instagram. The people demand latte art!

What is the most important thing you have learned by traveling?

There are so many valid ways of doing the same thing. It’s something I’m reminded of every time I go somewhere new, and I appreciate the lesson every time.

 

Where you go for travel inspiration.

 

Who have been the greatest teachers in your life?

I’ve had two very influential English teachers — Mark Baker in high school and Arthur Smith in college — who stand out primarily because each believed in me as a writer and went out of his way to help me develop that skill. Outside of the classroom, though, my friends have always been my greatest teachers. I know that sounds cheesy, but it really is true.  

Melissa wearing the Skylar Pant + Whit Blouse

What is your favorite poem?

So Early in the Morning” by Charles Simic, which does a brilliant job of capturing exactly how I feel about the world. I have a tattoo of a lilac branch on my side because of it. I also really, really love “A Stubborn Ode” by Jack Gilbert, which has a similar theme.

 

When is the last time you cried?

I last cried while watching A Star is Born. I am, after all, but human. 

What is your favorite poem?

So Early in the Morning” by Charles Simic, which does a brilliant job of capturing exactly how I feel about the world. I have a tattoo of a lilac branch on my side because of it. I also really, really love “A Stubborn Ode” by Jack Gilbert, which has a similar theme.

 

When is the last time you cried?

I last cried while watching A Star is Born. I am, after all, but human. 

A song that descibes your mood today.

A picture of a secret.

Your most precious object.

Your blog, Crossing Cues, mentions that you prefer city to country life; what do you love about cities?

You know, I’m not entirely sure that’s the case anymore. I love the pace of, specifically, New York; I get annoyed with how slowly everyone moves in most other cities, even. And I love that there’s so much going on all the time — I can never truly say that I have nothing to do. At the same time, I do sometimes feel a bit claustrophobic here, and it’s often the case that I feel a kind of whole-body sigh of relief when I step out of the city.

 

The last podcast you downloaded.

 

New York Magazine or the New Yorker?

Both! If I had to choose one, I’d choose the New Yorker,because I’m very pretentious.

Your blog, Crossing Cues, mentions that you prefer city to country life; what do you love about cities?

You know, I’m not entirely sure that’s the case anymore. I love the pace of, specifically, New York; I get annoyed with how slowly everyone moves in most other cities, even. And I love that there’s so much going on all the time — I can never truly say that I have nothing to do. At the same time, I do sometimes feel a bit claustrophobic here, and it’s often the case that I feel a kind of whole-body sigh of relief when I step out of the city.

 

The last podcast you downloaded.

 

New York Magazine or the New Yorker?

Both! If I had to choose one, I’d choose the New Yorker,because I’m very pretentious.

A picture of discovery.

Learn more about Melissa and Crossing Cues.

More from Field Notes.

All imagery by Kat Slootsky for wMM or provided by Melissa Lee.