Don Vaughn is a San Diego native and Stanford graduate who moved to Houston in pursuit of dual careers as a neuroscientist and musician.  As a scientist, he uses functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to research the neural basis of empathy and freewill.  The question is: what’s going on in the brain when someone shows prejudice towards another because of different beliefs/backgrounds/religions? Can we eliminate or reduce this bias? What really fosters empathy and connection between people? 

When not in lab, Don performs as a DJ and drummer across the country, including a recent show at SXSW and a tour with Blu Cantrell.  Set for release in early 2014, Don’s forthcoming EDM album will stretch what’s possible in music, fusing his electronic production, acoustic drumming, and pop vocals.

Don consistently looks for new ways to integrate his scientific and musical passions.  Recently, he built custom LED drum sets and wireless wristbands to better sync his performances with the audience.  David Eagleman and he built an iPhone app, eyeFi, which creates music from the phone’s video camera using technology originally developed in lab to help the visually impaired navigate.

Don is committed to serving his community. He is a member of Rotary Club of Houston Skyline, a board member of The Children’s Music Foundation which provides music lessons and inspiration to sick and disadvantaged youth, and a volunteer with Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston which provides assistance to refugees.  He also regularly performs at fundraising events for non-profit organizations including The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Trees of Hope, Halo House, Pink Door, and Blue Cure.


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