Brain Board

Jeff Leake, Board President

Image by Bill Griesar

A California bay area native Jeff holds a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA from UC Davis. His art is based in the rich history of painting, literature, and natural science. Leake sifts through this various source material finding stories while constructing a world for himself. Through this process he examines how our traditions, histories, and cultural morals are translated through simple stories such as parables and fables. You can see his work at

He currently teaches in the Psychology and University Studies department at Portland State University where he works with his colleague (and fellow NW Noggin founder) Bill Griesar to teach art and neuroscience there, around the Portland area, and beyond. Additionally he is serving on the Teacher Advisory Council at the Portland Art Museum.

He is also the president and arts coordinator of NW Noggin. As part of this organization he has been all over the country lecturing and teaching neuroscience through art including lectures on art and drugs for Science On Tap, the Portland Art Museum, and the Oregon Art Education Association. Along the way he has shown his art nationally and internationally, he has held several artist residencies at Caldera here in Oregon, and at UCROSS in Wyoming. He now shows his work at Gallery 114 in Portland where he lives and works with his wife kids and three dogs.

John Harkness, Board Vice President

John Harkness is a cofounder and Chief Scientific Officer of Rewire Neuroscience LLC, a Portland-based startup dedicated to empowering the future of neuroscience through cloud-connected data acquisition and data sharing tools. Find out more at

John earned his bachelor degree from Western Washington University in 2009, where he studied Neuroscience with a minor focus in Chemistry. While at Western, John founded an undergraduate neuroscience club, called NeRDS (Neuroscience Research Driven Students), that continues to operate neuroscience outreach and journal club events in the Bellingham, WA area. In 2015, John was awarded his doctorate in Behavioral Neuroscience with a focus in Neural Genetics from Oregon Health & Science University. There, he worked with Dr. Tamara Phillips and found that allelic variation in the trace amine-associated receptor 1 (Taar1) gene greatly predicts methamphetamine consumption and sensitivity to the aversive effect of methamphetamine in mice. In addition to his work at Rewire Neuroscience, John is currently a postdoctoral research associate in the lab of Dr. Barbara Sorg, at Washington State University, Vancouver. There he investigates the role of perineuronal nets, a form of extra cellular matrix, in rodent models of cocaine use. John’s research aims to diminish drug-associated memories, which likely contribute to relapse behavior, by disrupting specific populations of perineuronal nets using approaches that range from pharmacological to genetic.

John began working with NW Noggin in 2013 as a guest lecturer at Portland State University on current trends in neuroscience research. Since then, he has worked with NW Noggin’s summer outreach programs, and has presented at Velo Cult and for the Change Connect 4 Conference (a collaboration with Kindra Crick), Washington DC Congress and White House outreach events, and many other Noggin events.  He is honored to have served as Vice President of NW Noggin’s Brain Board since 2016.


Bill Griesar, Board Treasurer

Image by Peter Ellsworth

Bill Griesar, Ph.D. is Senior Instructor in Psychology at Portland State University, founder and Neuroscience Coordinator of NW Noggin, and Affiliate Graduate Faculty in Behavioral Neuroscience at OHSU. He loves teaching  –  all ages, everywhere, all the time…

Bill earned his bachelor of science from the Department of Neuroscience at Brown University, where he studied visual perception, and his doctorate in Behavioral Neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University, where he explored the cognitive effects of nicotine in non-smokers. Along the way he’s worked in a public library in Dobbs Ferry, New York, a small grocery store in New Harbor, Maine, a college bar in Providence, Rhode Island, a publishing company in Manhattan, a research lab at Rockefeller University in New York City, as an English teacher (on the JET program) in rural Japan, as the author of a guide for North American undergraduates seeking study opportunities in Ireland and the U.K., as a university study abroad advisor in Los Angeles and Portland, and as Coordinating Officer for the Waseda-Oregon Program, a consortium of collaborating universities in both Oregon and Japan.

Bill developed and has taught neuroscience courses at Portland State University, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland Community College, Clark College, Washington State University in Vancouver and Lower Columbia College since 2001, and co-founded (with his PSU colleague Jeff Leake) the art + neuroscience outreach nonprofit He’s been recognized as an innovator by the Obama White House, and has won numerous teaching awards. Bill and his husband are proud dads of two teenage sons.


Kindra Crick, Board Secretary

Kindra Crick

Kindra Crick creates art that gives visual expression to the wonder and process of scientific inquiry and discovery. In her installations and layered mixed-media work, she incorporates drawings, diagrams, maps and imagery from under the microscope. Crick has a degree in Molecular Biology from Princeton University and a Certificate in Painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Her work has been influenced by the inspired marriage of her grandparents, the scientist Francis Crick and the artist Odile Crick.  Kindra has exhibited throughout the U.S. and in the UK, including shows at the New York Hall of Science and MDI Biological Laboratory.  Her work is included in the LMB permanent collection in Cambridge, England and has been featured in the Huffington Post, Science Magazine, SciArt Magazine and Oregon Arts Watch. In the fall of 2017, she will be a featured artist on Oregon Art Beat and join the Jordan Schnitzer Printmaking Residency at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology.

You may experience some of her artwork at

As part of NW Noggin, Kindra has presented a NW Noggin SciArt Collaboration at Velo Cult, created a neuroscience-inspired installation for the Phillips Collection in D.C. and gave an accompanying lecture at the Portland Art Museum with Dr. John Harkness. She has been thrilled to lend her brainwaves to and  participate in arts-integrated neuroscience outreach with NW Noggin. She enjoys living, working and drinking coffee in Portland, Oregon.

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