If you’re looking for Maggie Wright outside of the laboratory, you might need to call her by her derby name, “Poppin’ Fresh.”
Wright—a neuroscience PhD and postdoctoral researcher in the lab of H. Richard Koerber, PhD professor of neurobiology—is also a competitor with the Steel City Roller Derby, captaining the Allegheny Avengers and skating on the league’s A-team, Steel Hurtin’. (She’s shown above in the yellow jersey, calmly checking an opponent from the Indianapolis Naptown Roller Girls.)
“Derby,” says Wright, “has been a great outlet for me as a physical activity—as well as an opportunity to meet some amazing people.”
Wright has been competing since 2012; she got her start in Cleveland while attending Case Western Reserve University.
Wright’s dissertation, defended in February, focused on the development and maintenance of Merkel cells—skin cells that help us sense touch. She currently studies how such somatosensory receptors regain function after injury.
Neuroscience and roller derby may seem to have little in common; but Wright says the two complement each other, as each requires serious patience and mental fortitude.
Wright’s off-rink avocation has a fringe element, as well—that’s yarnbombing, a street art wherein bombers create cozies for bike racks, cars, trees, bridges, whatever strikes their fancy. Wright also happily engages in more traditional knitting projects: “I’ve done a lot of hats, socks, baby blankets, gloves, and an ear cover that fits around my bike helmet for the winter months.”