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Meet: David Neri Ph.D.

Clinical Trial of Melatonin as Hypnotic

Who I am

I am an active-duty Naval Officer and have a Ph.D. in experimental psychology. My interests are in the effects of circadian rhythms, sleep deprivation, and fatigue on performance and alertness in operational situations.

Career Path

I have served at a number of Navy labs, including the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory, the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, and the Naval Health Research Center. The two-year postdoctoral fellowship I spent in Dr. Czeisler's lab at the Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School was part of the Navy's "outservice training" program. It allows Naval Officers the opportunity to obtain additional training or degrees in university and research settings.

Ironically, I am now stationed at NASA. I recently joined the Fatigue Countermeasures Program at NASA Ames Research Center where, among other things, we research countermeasures to the effects of fatigue and sleep loss. I am heavily involved in the transfer of this information to the Navy and other military services. My association with Neurolab helped pique my interest in remaining in the NASA environment. It's part of the reason why the opportunity to be stationed at NASA appealed to me and why I pursued it.

Influences in my career

Recently it has been Dr. Czeisler. It was he and his work that first generated my interest in the area of circadian rhythms. Just before meeting him I had collected some data on U.S. Navy air crews during the Gulf War. I was looking at the impact of combat on their work/rest schedules and fatigue levels. It was when I was presenting some of that data at a scientific meeting that I first met Dr. Czeisler. He pointed out to me an entirely different way of looking at and interpreting the data. A visit to his lab followed and these interactions spurred my interest in circadian rhythms and their impact on performance and alertness. These experiences resulted in somewhat of a career redirection for me. So I'll say he and his work probably had the most influence on my current interests.


I would recommend that anyone who wanted to go into experimental psychology, or psychology in general, obtain a broad background. The better your grounding in all of the sciences -- the life sciences, the other natural sciences, physics, mathematics, the better off you'll be in experimental psychology. There's plenty of time and adequate opportunity to focus later on in more narrow areas. The broader the background you get in high school and college, the better prepared you will be, no matter what you want to do at the graduate level in psychology.

Personal Information

None of us have a lot of spare time, I suppose, but most of mine is spent playing with my kids. One just turned eleven yesterday [in March 1997] and the other is eight. They're both very active - I have two boys - and we tend to play whatever sport happens to be in season. Basketball season has just ended so we were playing a lot of basketball in front of our house where we have a hoop. Now it's Little League time. We are going out on weekends, playing catch, hitting balls, things like that. In the summer it is swimming in the pool and in the fall it's soccer. Altogether it serves to keep me pretty active.


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