Hi Chinmayi, tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi! I'm an Indian-American undergraduate student pursuing neuroscience and medical humanities at Columbia University in New York City. I founded my non-profit organization, Simply Neuroscience, in May of 2019 as I was transitioning from high school into college.
I'm a curious researcher learning more about traumatic brain injury, enthusiastic youth science communicator, and passionate advocate for interdisciplinary innovation. In my free time, I enjoy practicing taekwondo (I'm a third degree black belt!), exploring nature trails, writing poetry, discovering new music on Spotify, and watching old Telugu movies with my family.
Can you tell us about Simply Neuroscience and what you do as CEO for those who are unfamiliar?
Simply Neuroscience is a global non-profit organization dedicated to expanding interdisciplinary neuroscience and psychology education, outreach, and awareness.
As the CEO, I oversee our wide range of 25 initiatives, ranging from "The Synapse" Podcast to the Humans of Neuroscience series. No two days are truly alike--some days are dedicated to cold emailing sponsors and meeting with partner organizations while others bring team bonding activities and intense yet thrilling brainstorming sessions.
How did you decide to pursue neuroscience?
In all honesty, I stumbled across neuroscience through my middle school love of anatomy! My journey into neurobiology felt quite natural at that point, but the true epiphany came when I realized that neuroscience consisted of far more than just the biology and medicine lens. It was what sparked me to think about neuroscience outside of the science at its core, and that led me to start framing the foundations of not only my personal academic and research interests, but the values of Simply Neuroscience (which I initially started as a one woman blog but then grew into the organization it is today thanks to the teamwork of many fellow student volunteers).
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
Short and sweet: be prepared to invest time and energy into making your ideas and visions come to life, but also be prepared to recognize when you may be veering into experiencing burnout and adapt accordingly! At the end of the day, we are all human.
What are some must-have resources (books, tools, podcasts, etc.) you would recommend for your industry?
Notion is amazing for staying on top of extensive task lists! And Google Calendar is an absolute essential for coordinating team meetings, partnership calls, grant writing sessions, and more while balancing academic coursework and other commitments.
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
Having a growth mindset
A desire to constantly challenge your intellectual boundaries
A passion for synergizing spontaneity and structure
Most satisfying & difficult thing about your job?
I am honored and thankful to have the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse community of scholars, innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders in neuroscience from around the world. The perspectives I have been able to experience over the past few years have been sincerely amazing.
What is incredibly satisfying is the ability to directly witness the translation of your hard work into supporting young students on a daily basis, no matter how small the impact may be.
What is difficult is the feeling of wanting to achieve as much as possible (since there is still a long way to go in increasing accessibility to early neuroscience education for all) but knowing that the day only has twenty four hours and you do not want to spread yourself too thin.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Reach out to people who you may not have many things in common with and chat with them. Be an active, empathetic listener. You never know the meaningful bonds you may form.
Best advice you've received/heard?
Never lose sight of your ambition -- challenging periods of time may come but they make you stronger. In the STEM world, progress can sometimes feel static, but dynamic changes are always on the horizon.