Devin HoughtlinThe UAB Department of Neurosurgery is spotlighting staff to focus on the importance of hobbies for stress relief, wellness, and self-care. The goal of the series is to connect individuals across the department by highlighting their hobby as it relates to mental, physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, social, and financial wellness.

Devin Houghtlin is a Researcher III in the Department of Neurosurgery and is a member of Dr. Renee Chambers’ research lab. He earned both his B.S. in Biology and Masters of Biomedical Health Sciences here at UAB in 2018 and 2021, respectively. He focuses on canine glioma research that utilizes oncolytic human IL-12 expressing herpes virus to identify immune and cancer driver biomarkers that can potentially predict responses to therapy and inform human clinical trials. Devin also aspires to become a neurosurgeon and plans on attending medical school in 2024, hopefully here at UAB.

Devin Houghtlin with son

What hobby do you currently focus on in your downtime?

"During my downtime, I thoroughly enjoy playing video games and spending time with my family. I have found over the years that playing certain video games stimulates my creativity and helps me focus."

What inspired you to explore this hobby?

"Since I was a child, I have enjoyed video games. As I grew older, I stopped playing video games as the games started to become redundant and lackluster. Recently, I picked the hobby back up after my brother purchased a new console for me and since then, I have been blown away with the quality of gameplay, categories of games, and overall experience of playing a modern video game. I enjoy open-world adventure and simulation games as they inspire me to become more creative by using different strategies and mechanisms to solve problems. They have provided me with a space to relieve stress and anxiety."
Devin Skylines

Have you noticed a change in your well-being since beginning this hobby and how does that translate into your work?  

"Yes, I have found myself using methods I have developed in video games to solve many real-world problems with my work in the lab. Also, I find it very rewarding to wind down at the end of the week with a new adventure and new problems to solve, even if I only have a couple of hours to do so. Overall, I have become less stressed and more focused since I have started playing video games again."

What game do you enjoy the most?

"The video game that I enjoy the most is Cities: Skylines. This game is a city simulator in which you create a city and solve issues e.g. traffic, natural disasters, balancing budgets, zoning, etc. It is very in depth and allows me to use a variety of creative methods to create solutions to problems that occur within the city."