Women in STEM: Nidhi

Nidhi in the Nature

My 32nd guest is Nidhi, an Indian soon-to-be Doctor in Bioengineering!

Hi @_nidhimenon! First of all would you like to tell us something about you?

Hi! I’m Nidhi, and I’m a soon-to-be defending PhD candidate. I was born and brought up in Mumbai, India and moved to the United States when I was 18yo. I got my Bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering from Purdue University and I’m currently working towards my PhD at Virginia Tech.

When did you start your Twitter account? How did you get the idea?

I joined Twitter to initially follow and connect with academics and professionals in my field, but it’s also given me the opportunity to use it as a platform to voice my own experiences as an academic. It’s great to share Science, but also to spread some cheer, and help others relate to experiences that are common when doing Science. This includes being vocal about issues such as diversity and mental health in STEM. I have been using Instagram for a while, mostly as a personal account but have recently realized the need to share science and disseminate information to my followers, mostly friends I know personally.

Can you tell us something about how you balance work and private life? 

My private life is consumed by hobbies, a lot of different kinds of sports (mostly racquet sports, swimming, basketball, and hiking), astronomy, reading, traveling. It is important to be able to give yourself time to recharge. Not sure if this is just me, but the most mundane activities in my private life have been able stimulate my mind to drive the Science I do forward.

During your academic studies how many women were in course? Why in your opinion?

I had quite a large number of women in my cohort, both during my undergraduate studies and while doing my PhD. Maybe a lot of women are inclined to studying Biology and engineering tools for application in the field of Life Sciences.

Have you ever felt harassed or being kept apart as a scholar because you are a woman?

I have not blatantly experienced harassment that stemmed from me being a woman.

How did you become passionate about science? 

Since a young age, I have been intrigued by the nature we experience close to us, to the stars and galaxies that are billions of light years away. I had very encouraging parents as that would often help me indulge in hobbies that helped me experience Science a little better. This included buying binoculars for me at the young age of 6, to buying me sets of encyclopedia so I could learn more about the flora, fauna, and human anatomy. They did what they could for me, with what little they had back then. Then, one day, I found out about a diagnostic device to measure blood glucose level, that we decided would be great for my diabetic grandmother. After seeing it function, I was absolutely fascinated! That was when I first felt like I would be interested in pursuing a career in Bioengineering.

Would you like to talk briefly about your job?

I currently work on engineering systems to study cancer and immune cell interactions. This includes working with biomaterials for 3D cell cultures, microfluidics to enable co-culture and further study leukocyte migration, and biosensors for real-time monitoring of cell-surface receptors in a dynamic system.

Thank you so much for your time. Lastly, can you give any advice to girls interested in STEM?

To young girls aspiring to be Scientists, I want to say that you are very capable. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. To do Science, what you must have is real passion, the ability to think critically, and creatively. There are a lot of hurdles, of course, but you must strive to succeed. I am more than happy to connect with those who are exploring similar fields!

Follow Nidhi on Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and on her blog!

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