Zachary Knight is turning the study of hunger, thirst, and thermoregulation on its head. How do we “know” when we’re full, for example? His research team at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is racing to finding out – studying neural circuits in mice that underpin behaviors critical to maintaining the body’s homeostasis.
Knight didn’t go to college with aspirations of becoming a scientist. When he started at Princeton University, Knight was an economics major. But many of his friends were chemistry majors, and he was, in a word, jealous. “I was blown away by how fascinating their research was, and I switched majors,” he says.
By the time Knight took up chemistry, late in his junior year, there was only one chemical biology lab with space, and it belonged to HHMI Investigator Kevan Shokat, then a junior faculty member.
“I set up a time to meet and talk with Kevan about the possibilities,” Knight recalls. But when Knight arrived, Shokat wasn’t there. Instead, he found a single Post-it note on Shokat’s office door saying, “Yes, you can join the lab.”