The ALBA diversity podcast, an initiative by the ALBA Promotion of Diversity Task Force, highlights diverse profiles of neuroscientists, to showcase the grit and determination it takes to overcome hurdles as part of underrepresented groups in brain research. ALBA's podcaster, Dr. Shruti Muralidhar, talks to researchers across positions, career paths and backgrounds, to better understand their personal journeys, and what keeps them going as individuals and as neuroscientists in today’s world.
This first season is focusing on migration.
Episode 1: Ibukun Akinrinade - Pursuing your dreams: a career in neuroscience
"The beauty of science is having people from various backgrounds and fields come together to create something beautiful: scientific research, ideas and innovation."
Dr. Ibukun Akinrinade just concluded her PhD with Prof. Rui Oliviera at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia, trying to understand the role of oxytocin in social behaviour in Zebrafish. She talks about being an African woman neuroscientist and a mother. Ibukun credits her mother-in-law as her personal mentor, who constantly champions her work and efforts to become a scientist. She also tells us about TReND in Africa, a charity organization that gave her the exposure and skills she needed to become the neuroscientist she is today.
Originally from Nigeria, Ibukun has a background in Anatomy from the University of Ilorin. Before starting her PhD, she did a one-year training at the University of Bordeaux in France where she studied the role of stress systems in addiction focusing on corticotropin receptors, opiate reward and social behaviour in mice.
More information about Ibukun:
Episode 2: José Zepeda - Academia needs a culture change
"Diversity is necessary, it is just not communicated properly."
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:
Episode 3: Basma Radwan - Empowering women in science
“As young girls, we are pushed to have a career; but at a certain age, the message changes.”
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.
Episode 4: Prof Huda Yahya Zoghbi – Winner of the Brain Prize 2020
“Awards are recognition of your science and mentorship, but the other side is also to inspire young people.”
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 groups.
Episode 5: Dr. Nancy Padilla-Coreano - Cultural immigrant in STEM
“I could only imagine what I knew was possible & being a scientist was out of the realm of my possibilities.”
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.