Vishnu "Deepu" Murty

October 16, 2023

Official Story

Vishnu “Deepu” Murty received his PhD in Neurobiology with a certificate in Cognitive Neuroscience from Duke University, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at New York University in the Department of Psychology. His first faculty position was in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, and he is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Temple University. His laboratory, the Adaptive Memory Laboratory, characterizes how neuromodulatory systems influence memory and memory-guided decisions. He studies these interactions in a variety of domains including reward, threat, curiosity, and agency. His work has been supported by multiple funding agencies, including the National Institutes of Mental Health, the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes on Aging, and the Brain Behavior Research Foundation. Outside of the laboratory, he is an advocate for queer representation in Psychology and Neuroscience as well as developing strategies for greater inclusion of under-represented populations in research.

Unofficial Story

Deepu started college at Brown University motivated and starry-eyed about starting his path to becoming a doctor. In his Sophomore year, he failed Organic Chemistry 2, which was a prerequisite for applying to medical school. This failure set the first of many professional spirals. In response, he cycled through 4 different majors over the course of 2 years, which eventually landed him in Neuroscience. The summer before his senior year, he started doing research and finally, something felt right. While you would think that inspiration would be enough to pursue a career in basic science research, instead some need to be “a professional” drew him to clinical neuropsychology. After 6-months of working in this lab, he had yet another oh no movement and switched over to a related, cognitive neuroscience research laboratory. Following this new thread for basic science research, he started his PhD in Neurobiology at Duke University. Weirdly, he decided to do his PhD in Neurobiology, even though he knew his passion was psychology (a question that still has yet to be answered!). Suffering through coursework that he was not the most interested in, his PhD research gave him an immense sense of satisfaction. Despite this love for research, graduate school was punctuated with multiple episodes of depression adding more stress to an already stressful endeavor. After completing his PhD, he started a post-doctoral fellowship at NYU, where he dove deeper into memory research. While things in the laboratory were gangbusters, living alone in an isolating city triggered a few more episodes of depression. To combat loneliness, Deepu threw himself even further into his work. While this increased his research productivity, this took a toll on his personal life. After 3 years of post-doc, which included 2 years of failing on the Psychology job market (30+ applications, 5 interviews, 0 offers), he was feeling a sense of urgency to get out of New York City. He ended up confirming a position as a junior faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. Although this was not aligned with his career goals, at least he was finally in the same city as his family. Being stuck doing research that was not his passion, he slowly started treating his job as a 9 to 5. While this was a huge professional setback, he learned it was nice to have a life outside of work. He developed hobbies, a non-work friendship group, and even time for romantic relationships. But now the pendulum swung in the other direction, where his personal life was the main drive and not his career. After 2 years in a position that was not a right fit, he went back on the Psychology job market and landed a position at Temple University. While at Temple—despite accruing 10+ failed grant submissions, another episode of depression requiring a 1-month leave of absence, and many late nights in the laboratory—balance seemed to be achieved. He currently runs an active research group, pursues hobbies and friendships, enjoys a mostly healthy romantic relationship, and tries to appreciate the path that brought him here. While balance has been mostly achieved, the good times are intermixed with a smidge of existential dread about being overwhelmed forever and not having panic attacks about the well-being of his trainees. However, a healthy mixture of therapy, supportive friends, SSRIs, and sage mentorship has provided support to get over these insecurities and remember to find the fun in his job.