Jessica Cucinello-Ragland sitting on the floor in the middle of the 2019 Society for Neuroscience meeting, laughing. Photo provided by Jessica Cucinello-Ragland
Jessica Cucinello-Ragland sitting on the floor in the middle of the 2019 Society for Neuroscience meeting, laughing. Photo provided by Jessica Cucinello-Ragland

Jessica is a proud first generation college graduate who used their passion for knowledge to pursue a career in preclinical animal research. Currently starting the fourth year of their PhD program, Jessica is involved in a number of projects investigating how chronic pain and substance use affect the brain. As a proud bisexual woman in science, they actively work towards promoting diversity and inclusivity in science. Outside of the lab, Jessica enjoys spending time with their demonic fluff balls of cats, expressing themself through abstract painting, and building their collection of local craft beers.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night Owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

3 demon-like cats all named after hockey players

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?

Gold painted neurons in the office, an ehrlenmeyer flask full of gin, and a test tube spice rack are the most science-y things in my house

5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?


8 If you could switch professions, what would you do?

Become a historian! My dream job would be to work for the Smithsonian American History Museum or the National World War II Museum.

9 If you could switch science fields, what field would you want to work in?

I’m a scientist who’s least favorite subject is science, but if I had to pick it would probably be something space-y

10 If you got a plane ticket right now, where would it go?

Palm Desert, CA (where I went on my honeymoon)

11 If you had one superpower, what would it be?

To become Captain America

12 Is there anything you strongly recommend we watch and/or read and/or listen to?

New Girl, Schitt’s Creek, Parks and Rec, and Avatar: The Last Airbender should be watched by everyone

13 It’s your day off. What do you want to do?

Step 1: Sleep in
Step 2: All the cat cuddles
Step 3: Bake something (probably cookies)
Step 4: Binge watch Netflix while eating previously mentioned cookies and cuddling with previously mentioned cats

14 What are three things you can’t live without?

My family, provel cheese, and good friends

15 What beverage gives you life?

Barq’s Root Beer

16 What book did you read in school that positively shaped you?

A Prayer for Owen Meany

17 What did you want to be when you grew up?

A rock star

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

The fact that there’s so much about the brain that we still don’t know! The human brain is so complex, and I want to find out as much as possible about it.

19 What got you excited in science?

I took a Brain and Behavior class as an undergrad, and the professor was so enthusiastic and passionate about his research that just being around him made me realize that I wanted to be just like him one day.

20 What excites you about science now?

I’ve surrounded myself with fellow graduate students and neuroscientists whose research continues to excite me and inspire me to become a better scientist.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Binge watching Say Yes to the Dress

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

No one really knows that I’m a pretty decent singer

23 What is your favorite game?


24 What is the last book you read?

Reading for fun doesn’t exist for me anymore, so the last book I read is Pulmonary Physiology by Michael Levitzky

25 What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received?

Whenever you’re nervous about something, remind yourself that you’re not nervous, you’re excited. This helps me get through every presentation and meeting that I get worried about.

26 What is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do?

I’ve always wanted to get my nose pierced, but I’m terrified of how much it would hurt.

27 What is the best advice for your 18 year old self?

Your high school boyfriend isn’t worth worrying about! Live your life and do what makes you happy. Don’t be afraid to make new friends!

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

In lab, I de-stress by sitting under my desk and just taking time to be alone. Outside of the lab, my best way to de-stress is by cuddling with my cats and spending time with my husband.

29 What is the last thing you watched?

The first 20 minutes of Guardians of the Galaxy

30 What is the weirdest thing you’ve had in your bag?

Freebie antibody samples from the Society for Neuroscience meeting

31 What is your favorite animal?


32 What is your favorite book?

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

Pizza with extra extra extra cheese

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

My anniversary

35 What is your favorite plant?

As soon as I find a plant that I can’t kill, it will become my favorite

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Your body can basically make its own opioids

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

That smell the first time you open up a brand new textbook

39 What is your favorite sound?

My baby nephew laughing

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

My perserverance

41 What is your favorite word (in any language)?


42 What is your proudest moment?

Passing my oral qualifying exam after failing my first attempt

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A magnolia tree

44 What’s the best thing about where you live?

All the amazing food options nearby

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I’ve worked with brains from five different species!

46 Who would you like to see 46 Questions interview next?

Elizabeth Delery (@PhDelery)