Tyler Benster

Tyler Benster headshot

Hi, I'm Tyler.

I’m a Neuroscience PhD candidate at Stanford, where I’m co-advised by Karl Deisseroth and Shaul Druckmann. I’m developing methods for reverse engineering the larval zebrafish brain, a transparent vertebrae that permits whole-brain observation and control with cellular resolution, using two-photon microscopy and holographic stimulation. I also work as a General Partner at Asimov Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund focused on 3D printing, robotics, computing, and neurotech.

About me

I was born in Palo Alto and grew up just outside of Seattle on beautiful Mercer Island. At a young age, captivated by shimmering vignettes of positronic brains and matter fabricators, I fell in love with science-fiction. Following the footsteps of Isaac Asimov’s protagonist Hari Seldon, I deemed myself a psychohistorian: a student of a fictional science combining psychology, history, economics, and mathematics to predict the course of future events.

Upon matriculation at Brown University, I approximated this field by concentrating in applied mathematics and economics. A few friends and I took a stab at matter fabrication with Azavy, a platform for distributed 3D printing. After tens of dollars in revenue, we shuttered the product and I became a consultant. I spent three years scouring the globe for the latest developments, and used my newfound knowledge to chair 3D Printing conferences in a dozen countries, and consult organizations like Lowe’s, HP, Stratasys, and the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Yet once acquired, I found little purpose in this expertise per se. I came to realize that my greatest moments of joy and meaning were rooted in the act of discovering rather than that of knowing. As I surveyed the frontier, I conceived that Neuroscience and Neurotechnology would have the greatest impact on humanity during my lifetime. Thus, I joined Van Gelder Lab at UW Medicine to pursue research on vision restoration, and was humbled to join the Neuroscience PhD program at Stanford in Fall 2017.

Outside of Neuroscience and 3D printing, I love athletics – see my best times. In high school I was a Washington state record holder and All-America in swimming, and went on to score points at two Ivy League Championships. Halfway through college I switched to running. I helped set a school record (4x800m relay), placed third at the Ivy League Heptagonal championship (800m), and qualified for the NCAA Division 1 East Preliminary Round of the national championship (800M–1:49.72). More recently, I ran my first marathon and helped my sister to a Boston Marathon qualifying time (Go Lindsay!).