Visitor of the Week: Nafisa Jadavji


Meet  Nafisa M. Jadavji of Carleton University (Canada). Nafisa is a postdoctoral fellow in Patrice Smith’s lab and a course instructor  in the Department of Neuroscience. She returned to the Banbury Campus to participate in the three-day Workshop on Leadership in Bioscience to help her be “better prepared for [her] near-future role.”

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
My research uses a mouse model to assess how nutrition affects neurological function over the lifespan. I am presently concentrating on neurodegeneration associated to stroke and dementia. My own research group will continue to work on this as well as incorporate the impact of maternal nutrition contributions on long-term offspring neurological function.  

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?
My scientific training in the field of neuroscience started in 2002. In 2008, during my PhD with Dr. Rima Rozen’s laboratory at McGill University, I began studying – and fell in love with – how nutrition impacts brain function and I have been contributing to the field since. 

How did your scientific journey begin? 
I really enjoyed my high school science classes. During my 11th grade biology class, I learned about the brain – specifically what the synapse and neuromuscular junction are and their function – and I became fascinated with how the brain works to control our behaviours. This lead me to pursue neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge where, in 2002, I also got involved in basic research and never left.

Was there something about the Workshop on Leadership in Bioscience that drew you to apply?
As a Neuroscientist I think my training as a scientist has been extensive. However, when it comes to learning how to lead a research group and manage people, I know I lack that training. The topics covered during the workshop are very applicable to recruiting, as well as running a successful and productive research group which will be helpful to me when I start my research group . 

What is your key takeaway from the workshop?
Being the leader of a laboratory is hard work but the workshop and the tools it gave me have helped me to feel better prepared for my near-future role.

What and/or how will you apply what you’ve learned from the Workshop to your work?
Carl Cohen, the instructor, provided extensive details about interviewing potential candidates (e.g. graduate students or postdocs). He gave us tools to help make the hiring process more consistent for candidates by introducing us to score sheets for each component of the hiring process (e.g. CV, phone interview, reference checks). I will be using these score sheets and guides  as I recruit   staff and students for my research group.

How many CSHL courses/workshops have you attended?
I also attended the Scientific Writing Retreat in 2016. I enjoyed the two courses I have attended and am open to attending more in the future, as well as sending my students and staff to future CSHL courses. 

If someone curious in attending a future iteration of the Workshop on Leadership in Bioscience asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her? 
I would recommend the workshop to anyone who plans to hire and manage people in a scientific setting. Though highly-motivated graduate students may benefit from this course, I think senior postdocs and people who have recently started their own independent group would gain the most from the course.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL's Banbury Campus? 
I am runner and the Banbury Campus is a great place to go on an early morning run. I also enjoyed having meals with the other participants. 

Nafisa received financial support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to cover a portion of her course tuition. On behalf of Nafisa, thank you to HHMI for supporting and enabling our young scientists to attend a CSHL course where they expand their skills, knowledge, and network.

Thank you to Nafisa for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.