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Victoria Sayo Turner


I am a graduate student in the Kheirbek Lab at University of California, San Francisco, where I study the neuroscience of stress and anxiety. I completed my bachelor’s degree at Amherst College in 2014 as a QuestBridge Match Scholar. My scientific research applies imaging of hippocampal brain circuits to understand how the brain overcomes fear and to advance our understanding of psychiatric illness.

Over the years, I have written for outlets like the Scientific American column Mind Matters, the Bridge Blog of the scholarship organization QuestBridge, and the Cogbites blog on cognitive science. I have been an active contributor to the UCSF student newspaper Synapse since 2019 ​​and served as the Editor-in-Chief at Synapse for two years. This summer, I’m thrilled to have this chance to write for Smithsonian Magazine.


A young woman in a grey shirt smiles in front of nature
Photo Credit: Joyzel Acevedo

University of California, San Francisco

Fellowship Sponsor: Heising-Simons Foundation

Fellowship Host: Smithsonian Magazine