The Alba Diversity Podcast
Dr. Suraj Honnuraiah - Facing discrimination in Translational science

Dr. Suraj Honnuraiah - Facing discrimination in Translational science

September 26, 2021

Dr. Suraj Honnuraiah is a postdoctoral scientist in the laboratory of Prof. Greg Stuart at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. He grew up in India and did his Masters in Neuroinformatics with Prof. Rodney Douglas at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland.

 

A tragic accident in childhood led to his friend losing his vision at an early age. Suraj talks about how he used this incident as his motivation to study and work in vision neuroscience and neuroinformatics for his PhD. He also talks to us about some subtle and covert forms of discrimination that he has faced and emphasizes the importance of having a diverse and inclusive working environment.

 

Currently, he is studying the cellular and circuit mechanisms of binocular visual information processing in rodent visual cortex using optogenetics and electrophysiological techniques.

Links:

Audio-transcription of the episode

Interviewed and edited by Shruti Muralidhar, Audio content editing by Abhishek Chari, Music from Lee Rosevere. Other projects by Shruti Muralidhar@polybiotiqueBiasWatchIndiaIndSciComm.

Dr. Dan Ohtan Wang - Being a Chinese woman neuroscientist in Japan

Dr. Dan Ohtan Wang - Being a Chinese woman neuroscientist in Japan

August 30, 2021

Dr. Dan Ohtan Wang is a neuroscientist trained in Japan and US. Her work connects genetic information to cognitive brain functions through the regulation of RNA. Her work centers on live-cell imaging techniques in visualizing RNA molecules and characterizing the diversity of RNA molecules at neuronal synapses. Currently, she is leading a team to study "Neuroepitranscriptomics" at RIKEN BDR, to decipher RNA information in the context of cognitive development and decline, and harness RNA biology for mental health.

She talks to us about her multiple identities as a woman neuroscientist - originally from China, trained in the US and working in Japan. She also gives us insights into the value of focus and resilience in science.

More information:

Audio-transcription of the episode

Interviewed and edited by Shruti Muralidhar, Audio content editing by Abhishek Chari, Music from Lee Rosevere. Other projects by Shruti Muralidhar@polybiotiqueBiasWatchIndiaIndSciComm.

Dr Mehmet Kurt - Intersectionality and LGBT in STEM

Dr Mehmet Kurt - Intersectionality and LGBT in STEM

July 26, 2021

Dr. Mehmet Kurt is the director of Kurtlab (www.kurtlab.com) and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology since January 2017. He also hold an adjunct faculty position at the Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Institute (BMEII) at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. My primary research area of interest is brain biomechanics and neuromechanics imaging.

 

He speaks eloquently about the importance of intersectionality and the need to provide help and accessible mentorship for STEM researchers who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. He is also part of STEM village, an undertaking to improve the visibility of LGBTQ+ STEM community around the world.

 

He has won many awards including Provost’s Early Career Award for Research Excellence in 2020 and the Fortune Magazine 40under40 in Turkey. His lab’s research has been highlighted in various media outlets such as Reuters, Newsweek, CBS News and Washington Post.

Links:

Audio-transcription of the episode

Interviewed and edited by Dr. Shruti Muralidhar, Audio content editing by Abhishek Chari, Music from Lee Rosevere. Other projects by Shruti Muralidhar: BiasWatchIndia and IndSciComm.

Merima Šabanović - The nomadic life of scientists

Merima Šabanović - The nomadic life of scientists

June 28, 2021

Merima Šabanović is a PhD student in the Wellcome Trust Doctoral Training Programme in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. She grew up in Bosnia and Herzegovina and moved to sunny Abu Dhabi to study Biology, with specialization in Brain & Cognitive science and a minor in Psychology, at New York University Abu Dhabi. Her interest in behavioural neuroscience has led her to study psychedelics and focus on how these can impact cognition and brain structure in the long term after a single dose. 

She gives us some candid insights about the ever-changing and temporary nature of academic life and what institutions can do to truly move the needle on being more diverse and inclusive.

Outside of the lab, she also volunteers as a peer supporter in the university and as a bereavement counsellor in Oxfordshire.

Links:

  1. Merima’s ResearchGate profile
  2. Merima’s work featured in the Nautilus magazine
  3. Merima’s student profile at NYU Abu Dhabi 

Audio-transcription of the episode

Interviewed and edited by Dr. Shruti Muralidhar, Audio content editing by Abhishek Chari, Music from Lee Rosevere. Other projects by Shruti Muralidhar: BiasWatchIndia and IndSciComm.

Dr André Mecawi - The importance of representation in STEM

Dr André Mecawi - The importance of representation in STEM

May 31, 2021

André Mecawi is an Adjunct Professor of Biophysics at the Federal University of São Paulo. His laboratory is focused on understanding the role of the vasopressin and oxytocin producing hypothalamic neurons in physiological and pathological conditions. 

He talks to us about the importance of good teaching and mentorship provided by exceptional teachers. He also tells us his experiences of growing up in Brazil as the son of an Egyptian father and a Brazilian mother and about the importance of representation and inclusivity in academia across career stages.

 

Born in Vitória Brazil, André got his undergraduate degree in Veterinary Medicine at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (2008), followed by a Master and PhD in Physiology at the University of São Paulo (2012) under the mentorship of Dr. José Antunes-Rodrigues. His postdoctoral training in Molecular Neuroendocrinology was at the University of Bristol (UK, 2014) under the supervision of Dr. David Murphy. 

Links:

  1. Dr. Mecawi’s Google Scholar page
  2. Dr. Mecawi’s ResearchGate profile
  3. Affirmative action Law for Universities enacted by Brazil – NYT article

Audio-transcription of the episode

Interviewed and edited by Dr. Shruti Muralidhar, Audio content editing by Abhishek Chari, Music from Lee Rosevere. Other projects by Shruti Muralidhar: BiasWatchIndia and IndSciComm.

Dr. Noèlia Fernández Castillo -  Pushing the limits

Dr. Noèlia Fernández Castillo - Pushing the limits

April 26, 2021

Dr. Noèlia Fernández Castillo was awarded her PhD in Genetics from the University of Barcelona in 2011. She is currently a researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones Biomédicas en Red de Enfermedades Raras(CIBERER) and an Associate Professor of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics at the University of Barcelona.

The main focus of her research is on the genetic basis of neuropsychiatric disorders, such as Addiction, Autism, ADHD and aggressive behavior, using different methodological approaches that include genomics, transcriptomics, methylomics, association studies, animal and cellular models and functional studies. 

As a person with rheumatoid arthritis, Dr. Fernandez gives us a glimpse of how constant pain and reduced mobility have changed her life and scientific career.

Links:

  1. Dr. Fernández Castillo’s ORCiD page
  2. Federacion de Jovenes Investigadores (FJI-Precarios)

Audio-transcription of the episode

Interviewed and edited by Dr. Shruti Muralidhar, Audio content editing by Abhishek Chari, Music from Lee Rosevere. Other projects by Shruti Muralidhar: BiasWatchIndia and IndSciComm.

Dr. Nancy Padilla-Coreano - Cultural immigrant in STEM

Dr. Nancy Padilla-Coreano - Cultural immigrant in STEM

March 29, 2021

Dr. Nancy Padilla-Coreano is a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Science with Prof. Kay Tye. She did her graduate thesis work at Columbia University in the laboratory of Prof. Joshua Gordon on functional connectivity in hippocampal-prefrontal pathway during anxiety behavior and collaborations on the role of interneurons in the prefrontal cortex during cognition. She talks to us about her experiences as an immigrant from Puerto Rico navigating American STEM academia. 

 

Along with being a recipient of many awards and fellowships, she was recently nominated as a L’Oreal USA Women in Science Fellow. She is also the co-founder and director for Stories of Women in Neuroscience (WiN) – a project that highlights the stories of female neuroscientists at different career stages and from diverse backgrounds and subfields.

Links:

  1. https://twitter.com/DrNancyPadilla
  2. https://www.storiesofwin.org/
  3. L’Oreal Women in Science Fellows for 2020

Audio-transcription of the episode

Interviewed and edited by Dr. Shruti Muralidhar, Audio content editing by Abhishek Chari, Music from Lee Rosevere. Other projects by Shruti Muralidhar: BiasWatchIndia and IndSciComm.

Prof Huda Yahya Zoghbi – Winner of Brain Prize 2020

Prof Huda Yahya Zoghbi – Winner of Brain Prize 2020

February 22, 2021

Prof Huda Yahya Zoghbi is a Professor of Pediatrics, Neurology, Neuroscience, and Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine, an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital.

 

Her work has led to the discovery of the genetic cause of Rett syndrome and provided insight into the function of the gene in various neurons. Along with training over 90 scientists and physician-scientists who have gone on to successful careers, she is the recipient of many prizes including the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for 2017 and the Brain prize in 2020.

 

In this episode, she shares her wisdom about a life and career in science and how structures and institutions can come together to include members from underserved and underrepresented minorities. 

Links:

  1. Brain prize profile
  2. Breakthrough prize profile

Audio-transcription of the episode

Interviewed and edited by Dr. Shruti Muralidhar, Audio content editing by Abhishek Chari, Music from Lee Rosevere. Other projects by Shruti Muralidhar: BiasWatchIndia and IndSciComm.

Basma Radwan - Empowering women in science

Basma Radwan - Empowering women in science

January 25, 2021

Basma Radwan is a postdoctoral research associate in the Biology department at New York University, Abu Dhabi. She talks to us about her experience as a woman scientist and single mother. She credits her time in NYU, New York as formative for her personal and scientific growth. As an Egyptian woman, she shines a light on the kind of cultural messaging that young Egyptian girls receive while growing up.

Basma Radwan received her B.S. degree in neural science from New York University, New York, the M.S. in biomedical engineering from Boston University, and Ph.D. in Neural science from New York University, New York, in 2015. Her current research revolves around investigating the interplay between sleep and depression and how sleep abnormalities could lead to stress-prone individuals. She was the recipient of the L’Oreal-UNESCO-For Women in Science (Middle East) in 2018 for her research in the field of neuroscience.

Audio-transcription of the episode

More information about Basma:

Interviewed and edited by Dr. Shruti Muralidhar, Audio content editing by Abhishek Chari, Music from Lee Rosevere. Other projects by Shruti Muralidhar: BiasWatchIndia and IndSciComm.

Brought to you by The ALBA Network

José Zepeda - Academia needs a culture change

José Zepeda - Academia needs a culture change

December 28, 2020

José Zepeda is a poet-scientist hybrid and originates from San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora in México. He talks about his experiences as a first generation immigrant making his way in academia. As a DREAMer, he recounts incidents of his life when he first recognized racism and racist attitudes. During the conversation, he shares poignant insights on how academic institutions need to change their power structures to better reflect the diversity of today’s society.

During the day, he is interested in how neural circuits within the brain can rewire themselves within the context of experience, both during regular development and pathologically. Whenever he gets a break from the lab, José is intent on crafting prose and poetry centered around the contemporary Xicano experience. José currently resides in Nashville, TN where he is pursuing a PhD in neuropharmacology at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

More information about José - www.jczepeda.com
More information about racism in higher education:

Audio-transcription of the episode

Interviewed and edited by Dr. Shruti Muralidhar, Audio content editing by Abhishek Chari, Music from Lee Rosevere. Other projects by Shruti Muralidhar: BiasWatchIndia and IndSciComm.

Brought to you by The ALBA Network

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