This week we’re welcoming Isha Dhingra, a Postdoctoral associate from Yale University, in Connecticut! We spoke to Isha about her work, her interests, and why she thinks what she does is important.
Why did you choose Neuroscience?
I was excited to learn a little (because that’s really all one can learn in a lifetime) of what goes on with the brain. An accidental love for coding and neuroimaging data analysis and the people I’ve met along the way keep me here. In the lab, I collect and analyze functional MRI data to help answer questions about the brain’s reward circuit such as – how does it evolve as we age? and – how do cigarettes affect people’s attention and thinking?
Beyond the lab, I mull over the systemic problems that plague Medicine and Science, and work on projects in this area in my free time.
What do you think is important about your work?
I think everyone should and can easily know what science is up to these days, if people within the field would bother to talk about it minus all their self-comforting jargon. I think that science and medicine are jobs just like any other. Nothing stands between those who are curious to know more and those who have some firsthand experience other than clear, friendly communication.
One reason for people to care is that a lot of science is “translational”, which means it traverses the lab-verse into the hospital/clinic-verse; knowing about science can be empowering to anybody who seeks healthcare. Another reason to care is that science is happening around us all the time, and it can be a lot of fun to see science at play in our everyday lives! Then there’s the fact that everyone, whether they like it or not, is a scientist. Babies are annoying little scientists when they keep dropping their things on the ground. Newton didn’t have (or need) a PhD to wonder why apples go down, only curiosity.
Being aware of systemic issues in Medicine can help people navigate this complex and often opaque system that most people will use at some or other point in their lives with a little more ease, or at least ask physicians key questions, participate more actively in their own healthcare, and advocate for their health and treatment.
What kind of hobbies do you indulge in?
I like volunteering for science outreach, demoing fun physics experiments to school kids and watching them go ‘ooooh!’ Consuming and producing satire. Fraternizing with stationery.
How would you describe your ideal day off?
Beanbag, snacks, sunshine, book, pajamas, maybe a friend or two to hang out with in the evening, tons of sleep.