Women in STEM: Nafisa M. Jadavji
This post was originally published in 2017 for a colleagues WOMEN in STEM website.
1. What is your work/research topic?
My research focuses on nutrition and brain function. I focus on investigating and understanding how dietary and genetic deficiencies in folate metabolism affect the course of neurodegeneration.
2. What was your best day of science?
I don’t have a specific day; I absolutely love when I see my published work comes up on my PubCrawler or GoogleAlert e-mail alerts. I always think, wow all this work I am doing is contributing to something bigger. Sometimes getting caught up in the daily grind makes me forget the bigger picture.
3. What was your worst day in science?
Being told that I was not good enough nor was my research by two different supervisors. Each time it took me over 6 months to recover, but here I am stronger than ever.
4. What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job?
I have two pieces of technology I love. The first is my MacBook. I can use it to get so much done (e.g. writing, data analysis, marking, e-mails, making figures, editing my website, etc), it doesn’t matter where I am. In terms of laboratory equipment, I love the Qiagen Tissue Lyser, it makes tissue lysing super easy. All samples are treated the same during the lysing process and it’s super-efficient. I never thought I would like a piece a laboratory equipment so much.
1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Calgary, Alberta in Canada.
2. What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid?
I always loved science, so I knew I would do something in science. I think my mom wanted me to be a medical doctor, so I guess I sort of accomplished that with my PhD.
3. What do you do to relax outside of lab?
I love to travel and am a huge movie watching fan. I also love to cook and bake. My recent baking feat was gluten free donuts.
4. Do you have any pets?
No pets yet, maybe a dog one day?
5. Do you have any fun hobbies?
In 2015 I took up knitting and I enjoy it a lot. It’s a great mental break from the demanding job of being in science and relaxes me. I have also met some very interesting people since I have started knitting.
6. If you want to talk about your family, what is your family life? How did your family develop alongside your career?
I have not had a chance to develop a family alongside my career. I am working on it. I experienced some significant health challenges at the end of my PhD, but things are finally looking up so I am hoping to start a family soon.
1. What is your best advice for girls interested in science?
You need a thick skin in science, people can be mean and experiments will fail. If you love it, don’t stop because you are told you are not good enough or experiments aren’t going well. Take a step back and rethink things. Flexibility and persistence are key ingredients for success in science.
2. Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be a scientist?
I remember in my grade 12 biology class we learned about the synapse, specifically the neuromuscular junction and I was like wow, that super cool and I want to learn more. I pursued a BSc in Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge.
3. Why were your drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path?
Science always challenges you, it pushes you to learn and do more, which I love. Yes, during the hard times I considered walking away and working at bakery or a flower shop.
4. What was your biggest challenge during your degree?
I experienced significant health problems at the end of my PhD, I went from being very healthy to sick. It was a very challenging time as I was finishing experiments, writing my thesis and preparing ethics applications for my postdoc work in Germany, as well as dealing with my health.
5. What was your biggest motivation to obtain your PhD?
I enjoyed doing the research.
6. If you left academia, what was the biggest hurdle you had moving to industry/other?
Not being able to make my own schedule and do the research I am passionate about.
1. What is your favorite book?
Harry Potter series.
2. What is your favorite desk snack?
Lindt Dark Chocolate and plan rice cakes.
3. What would you listen to while writing?
I like listening to classical music while I am writing, either on the CBC or GooglePlay Music. It helps me focus on writing. I don’t like writing in silence.
4. What color socks are you wearing?
I dislike socks. When I am wearing socks, they are usually black.
5. Any other fun facts about you….
I use to teach and play the piano. I lived in Berlin, Germany for 2 years.