BY: Mikaela Dunkin
EDUCATION: B.S. in Human Biology & Psychology from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Currently working towards a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology at Stony Brook University
RESEARCH INTERESTS: Mitochondrial Biology and Alzheimer’s disease
FUTURE GOALS: Work in academia and connect mitochondrial biology with Alzheimer’s disease pathology
Why did you want to be a part of GWiSE?
I wanted to be a part of GWiSE because I believe in women supporting each other. I have met a lot of amazing people through this club and I want other women to share in the feeling of solidarity that a club like GWiSE can provide.
If you didn’t have to sleep what would you do with the free time?
I’d probably still sleep, I love sleeping. But if that answer is not allowed, I guess I would read more snuggled up nice and cozy in my bed.
What bends your mind every time you think about it?
That people wear socks when their shoes are off. Don’t you want to let your feet breathe?!
What got you interested in your field?
You have probably heard of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle but did you know it’s just the first book of a quintet? One of the books, A Wind in the Door, takes you into the mitochondria, describing it as a world of its own filled with fictional microscopic life forms known as farandolae. This book really got the idea that our cells are a universe contained within.
Separately, I became interested in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) after working in a nursing home and experiencing first-hand how devastating the disease can be. Thus I chose to study both Human Biology and Psychology. Before grad school, most of my experiences were clinical, but I believe I can make the most impact on advancing our understanding of AD by going back to the basics – in this case basic science and exploring our mitochondria.
Describe your perfect day.
On a perfect day, I’d wake up without an alarm to sun shining in my bedroom window. Then I would go for a solo morning run in the woods on a perfect brisk autumn day, where the leaves are turning colors. After returning home, I’d make brunch with that special someone while dancing to music and laughing. Then we’d lounge by the fireplace while reading a book before cooking a nice dinner with dessert and having a few drinks by the fireplace before calling it a night.
What do you think needs to happen for there to be more women in science and engineering?
We all need to challenge our views on gender roles and work on our double standards every single day. We need to learn to identify microaggressions and understand the hostility they create can undermine someone’s ability to meet their full potential. We need men to support us and to be involved in household management, childcare, and emotional labor. And we need them to not expect a pat on the back for doing so, they are not going above and beyond – they are finally just catching up. We need to not think that having children makes a women a “bad financial investment”. We need to provide and promote maternity AND paternity leave. We need equal compensation. Quite simply, we need to end the patriarchy!