Erin Schuman is a neurobiologist who studies synapses, the connections between neurons. She was born in San Gabriel, California, and completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Southern California (1985) and her Ph.D in neuroscience at Princeton University (1990). She conducted postdoctoral work in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. In 1993, she became an assistant professor of biology at Caltech where she moved up the ranks to full professor. In 1997 she was also appointed as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2009, she became a founding director of the new Max Planck Institute for Brain Research – scheduled to open February 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany. Erin has been awarded numerous prizes and grants, including a Pew Scholars Award, the Beckman Young Investigator Award, and most recently the Hodgkin Huxley Katz Prize Lecture.