Bank Street School for Children '01
I was taught many excellent pedagogical lessons about learning different types of material… It really helped form a large set of interests for me, and more specifically it helped me interpersonally in understanding the importance of communities.
Currently in academia, Sam McDougle’s, SFC ’01, story begins with him being a musician after studying neuroscience at Vassar College. A musician for many years, he played the fiddle and guitar for two Bluegrass bands: The Powder Kegs and Tumbling Bones. Though he loved music, Sam was tempted to return to academia. He had a particular interest in the way he was learning to play musical instruments, such as the fiddle, banjo, and guitar, and joined with his interest in neuroscience, he decided to study the psychology of motor skill learning. Sam is currently an assistant professor at Yale in the Department of Psychology and presently runs the Action, Computation, and Thinking (ACT) lab. The ACT lab uses psychophysical, computational, and neurophysiological techniques to investigate human learning, memory, and cognition. Recent work has focused on how skill learning involves an interaction between executive functions and low-level processes, on mapping and modeling this interaction, and on exploring its effects on decision-making and reinforcement learning.
Learn more about Sam in the video below, in which he references his life, work, and his former Bank Street teacher David Wollkenberg’s 5/6s Discussion on Family (video)
University of California, Berkeley, Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2020
Princeton University, PhD, Psychology & Neuroscience, 2018
Vassar College, BA, Neuroscience & Behavior, 2009
Ethical Culture Fieldston School, 2005
Bank Street School for Children, 2001
Hi, my name is Sam McDougle. I graduated from Bank Street School for Children in 2001. It's very holistic it was a lot about the fact that I was taught many excellent pedagogical lessons about learning different types of material and being interested in art and being interested in exploration and science and Greek mythology and music. And it really helped form a large set of interests for me, and more specifically it helped me interpersonally understand the importance of communities, remembering moments in David Walkenberg's class of talking about things that were really new and different. I believe there's actually a video somewhere on YouTube of the class I was in with David Walkenberg's doing this. We were talking about really kind of complex social issues and it was really a memorable event for me in kind of a long-term way throughout Bank Street, but also to go back and look at that video and sort of remember those moments being enlightening to me. I think the eighth-grade musical was a hugely important activity for me both because it kind of turned me on to how fun it is to put on a show and to perform, which is something I did for many years before doing what I do now, and also to work with a group to create something—I think that's been an important part of both of my careers. My piece of advice for anyone when they start thinking about what they want to do with their life is twofold—it's to surround yourself with people that you not only share interests with but who share your values and who you get along with. I think that's so important to have a strong social fabric, and number two is to pursue the lifestyle that you want, so whatever you choose to do for work or where you choose to live, you should really think about what that affords you in terms of what you like to do with your time. I think it's important that you don't sacrifice living a life that makes you happy and that gives you community and joy.