Understanding disease by lasering brains: please welcome Lakshini Mendis to Real Scientists


We are very excited to welcome our next curator, Lakshini Mendis (@BLHSMendis)! Lakshini just completed her PhD project at the Centre for Brain Research in Auckland, where she currently works as a Research Assistant while waiting for her thesis defense. She uses a technique known as MALDI (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation)-IMS (imaging mass spectrometry) to investigate lipid changes in the postmortem human brain in Alzheimer’s disease. She is a passionate about good science communication and has written for HDBuzz, NatureJobs blog, and Bitesize Bio. She is also a strong advocate for women in STEM and volunteers as Co-Editor-in-Chief at The Scientista Foundation! When she’s not working, you can usually find Lakshini curled up with a good book, spending time with family and friends, or exploring somewhere new! Here’s what Lakshini says about herself, her work, and her interests:


I was a curious child who always wanted to learn new things, and luckily, my parents wholeheartedly encouraged this. I had access to various sets of encyclopedias and used to conduct mini experiments at home. An excellent science teacher I had in Year 7 helped cement my budding interest in science, so, pursuing the sciences at high school and uni felt like a natural progression.

I’ve always found the human brain intriguing and have been fascinated about how it makes us… well, ‘us’. So, my aim was always to end up in neuroscience. Through the past few years I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study postmortem human brains to further understand neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s. Knowing that there are still so much more work that needs to be done to better understand these diseases (in order to better treat them!) keeps me going.

I studied lipid differences in the pLM_welcomespeechostmortem human brain in Alzheimer’s disease for my PhD project. Since lipids are numerous and structurally complex, I used a novel technique known as MALDI (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation)-IMS (imaging mass spectrometry) to image these lipids in the postmortem human brain. Currently, I’m trying to extend the use of MALDI-IMS to study other parts of the postmortem human brain in other neurodegenerative diseases!

Humans are living for a lot longer these days, which is linked to the rise of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The research we do is aimed at ultimately helping us better understand these diseases, which might lead to better therapeutics. Our research is also currently supported by taxpayers and philanthropy, so I think we have an obligation to make sure that we share our research with the community!

I’m the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Scientista Foundation, which is a US-based organization that empowers pre-professional women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) through content, communities, and conferences. The coolest thing about this role (other than inspiring young women!) is getting to work with a great editorial team who are spread across the globe. I love reading and I’m currently on a medical non-fiction bender (Stiff by Mary Roach, anyone?). I also love practicing yoga, which helps melt away stress. A more expensive hobby of mine is traveling to new places and experiencing different cultures.

My ideal day off would be a balance of ‘me’ time including a good book and a nice glass of wine, and time with family and friends with some good food and board-games!

LM_poster presentation

We are looking forward to hearing all about Lakshini’s research and outreach. Please welcome Lakshini to Real Scientists!

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