Americans in Switzerland: Meet Gilman Scholar Devin Bayly

Devin Bayly came to Switzerland as a recipient of the Gilman Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. We caught up with him to learn more about his experience here and with the program.

Hailing from Tucson, Arizona, Devin is a 26-year-old junior at the University of Arizona majoring in neuroscience.  He came to Switzerland to participate in the Blue Brain Project which started at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).  His work furthers the project’s goal to provide digital reconstructions of the mammalian brain to better understand the foundational principles of brain function and disease.

Devin will apply what he learns at the Blue Brain Project to an initiative he’s kicking off at the University of Arizona which presents immersive visualizations of neuroscience research.  “The idea is to close the gap between public understanding and neuroscience research so that people can learn about the brain without being scientists,” he explained.  The project will start as an exhibit at the university and expand to the web to increase accessibility.

Eventually, Devin dreams of using knowledge about the brain to better understand interpersonal conflict.  International collaboration, like what the Gilman Scholarship has enabled him to do in Switzerland, is key to moving forward on that goal.  “Research has to be at the scale of the problem you’re trying to solve,” he said.

When he hasn’t been busy adjusting models of mouse brains, Devin has been busy enjoying life in Geneva, especially the Bains de Pâcquis which he wishes he could transport to Tucson. And if there is one thing he could introduce to Switzerland it would be the Saguaro cactus which grows as high as 40 feet tall in the most desperate desert terrain.  “Here is a magnificent organism that blows away the expectations of what is possible.”  Referring to Switzerland, he wondered: “Imagine what is possible in a place with much richness here.”

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program provides need-based scholarships for undergraduate students to study abroad, internationalizing their outlook and preparing them to thrive in the global economy.  For more information, see the Gilman Scholarship’s website here.