Behind the Science with Sofia Quaglia.
Sofia and I first met in October of 2022 via Zoom. She had interviewed Carmine, Inspire the Mind Editor in Chief, not long before and shortly after that, he suggested that the two of us meet. As Deputy Editor, I am always keen on expanding our network and meeting new talents. Sofia and I instantly clicked. We spent most of our time exploring our similarities, whether that was our childhood or the similar education systems we both went through. As the discussion continued, I started to get to know her better. In December, we met again, one-to-one, and explored the possibilities for Sofia to have her very own Inspire the Mind column.
Let me introduce her to you. Sofia is a professionally trained science journalist who is most passionate about understanding how the brain works, and with that, mental health. She is a Columbia University journalism graduate and explains, “I am very interested in writing about the brain, specifically mental health, because as humans it connects us all”.
She has been featured in newspapers such as The Guardian, National Geographic, Popular Science, New York Times, BBC, and more. When she is not writing about science, mental health and society, she produces “Crossroads” and “Money Date” for Open Giornale Online, an Italian national newspaper.
Sofia specializes in neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, with a fond appreciation for the natural world. For her, understanding humans and animals is a reminder that the real world is incredibly complex, and that evolution is truly bigger than all of us. In her words “Humans are not the only ones who matter on this planet”.
For Inspire the Mind specifically, Sofia wants to shine a light on the science behind media headlines, as well as how external factors affect each person differently.
Her column has a twofold purpose. She explains “my column gives scientists and researchers a space to explain the workings and the behind-the-scenes of the research they do. To me this is important, because in a lot of the journalism we see today, a lot of complex concepts must be streamlined for the general public and therefore have to be condensed”. There currently isn’t a lot of space for scientists and researchers to talk about the inner workings of the research that happens, as findings are often considered more important.
As a direct result of this gap in knowledge, Sofia aims to create a space for readers where they can take some time to take a deeper look at some of the findings they are seeing online and on social media. She clarifies, “for example, if the media headline reads: ‘there is a new study that found there is a generic link between suicidal thoughts and family backgrounds’, my column will provide a lot of background about how this conclusion was made, what the research further investigated and what implication it has for the bigger picture of the research field. I also want to look into what the initial hypothesis was and what the overall research process was”.
In this column, you can expect a series of Q&As with researchers who are in charge of the cutting-edge science that is changing the world as we know it, as well as interviews with scientists to directly dissect their research, from pros and cons, to hypotheses, the need for their research and the inner workings of the actual field work.
When trying to dive further, I asked “Sofia, why write about mental health?”, her answer was simple: “I have grown passionate about mental health because it is a very important topic that is often overlooked, and I am personally interested in the intersection between mental health and everyday life.” She continues, “I want to operate in the middle dimension, between the ‘go for a walk’ stereotype and the very intense trauma, where, together, we can explore our emotions, the ways our brains work, and how our genes can all have an impact on our everyday life”.
“Welcome to my column!”.