Ben Rein, PhD is a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University and a science communicator on social media.
In his current research Ben is exploring the neural basis of empathy and how drugs such as MDMA act in the brain to enhance social connection. His PhD thesis, which received the Dean's Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research, studied autism spectrum disorder and identified key systems in the brain that regulate social behavior. Ben has authored 18 peer-reviewed scientific papers and received research honors from the NIH, the Society for Neuroscience, and Sigma Xi. To view all research papers, please visit the Research page.
Outside of the lab, Ben creates educational science videos for an audience of more than 950,000 followers on social media. In his videos, he summarizes recent research papers, teaches neuroscience basics, and debunks viral videos containing scientific misinformation. He has been profiled by Popular Mechanics, appeared on Entertainment Tonight, and been invited to present at national and international conferences. His science communication has been recognized with awards from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Neuroscience, Stanford University, and Vlogbrothers, and he has been the recipient of science communication-related grants from the Mind Science Foundation and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. To learn more, please visit the Science Communication page.
Ben is also the Founder & President of the Aspiring Scientists Coalition, a virtual organization providing free guidance for students in over 75 countries. If you are a student, please consider taking advantage of these free Resources!
Please visit the publications page for a complete list of papers.
Rein B, Tan T, Yang F, Wang W, Williams J, Zhang F, Mills A, Yan Z. (2020)
Rein B (2023).
Rein B (2022).
Making Science Education
More Accessible: A Case Study
of TikTok's Utility as a Science
Ben believes that science should be more clear and accessible to the public. To support this goal, he creates and posts educational videos on social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and BiliBili. He has gained more than 900,000 followers across these social media accounts, and his videos have been featured in New York Post, Good Morning America, and ABC News.
Ben began using social media for science communication after he unexpectedly went viral on TikTok in 2020. He quickly discovered that social media platforms can be powerful vehicles for reaching the public, and he found joy in providing free, accessible, and evidence-based education to social media users worldwide.
In 2021, Ben took first place in the "BrainStorm Neuroscience Pitch Competition" held by the Mind Science Foundation, securing $30,000 in research funds. This unique funding opportunity with a science communication component challenges scientists to clearly articulate their research proposal to a lay audience. In 2022, Ben appeared on Entertainment Tonight, was profiled by Popular Mechanics, and was recognized by Stanford University and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his use of social media to promote public engagement with science.
TikTok has discovered the “Jennifer Aniston Neuron” — a single brain cell that’s “activated” by photos of the actress — and it has ignited a viral moment for the surprisingly complex concept.
Ben Rein is a neuroscience student from University at Buffalo spreading educational science videos through TikTok. “I had no intention to make videos on TikTok at any point,” Rein said...
Neuroscientist Ben Rein breaks down how color blindness works, something he is personally affected by.