Art Connects Science, Acrylic on Canvas, OzdinART™
ART LOVES SCIENCE As a neuroscientist, professor, and artist, Hande Ozdinler works to find a cure for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and more recently, she brings together both the arts and science with the Art Loves Science Foundation.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO CHICAGO?
I was born in Istanbul, and I came to United States for my Ph.D. followed by a postdoc at Harvard Medical School. I was eventually recruited by Northwestern to become the youngest female faculty to initiate a new Research Lab on ALS disease.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ALS RESEARCH.
I focus on the role of upper motor neurons in ALS, which helped change the perception in the field. I have received many awards for my scientific achievements, but the award I am most proud of is being honored as ‘one of the most influential Turkish American Women in United States’. It is a testimony that I need to continue giving back.
WHO INSPIRES YOU? The ALS
patients who fight every single day to keep their dignity and humanity inspire me. How people react to adversities, and how they transform pain and suffering into something positive while staying humble is the source of my inspiration.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FACING THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY? My work at the Les Turner ALS Foundation has supported me and allowed me to do the science I dreamed about. Now it is time I give back and help with high-risk/ high-award projects. In addition, we do very poorly in recruiting young minds to science. But without them, the future of science can be dark. We need to recruit more students and generate funds for young, energetic minds. More can be done to support young scientists.
WHAT WAS YOUR 'A-HA' MOMENT?
When my colleagues started finding out that I was painting, it was not seen as a suitable engagement for a serious scientist. My husband was in support because he had similar experiences as a musician with a Ph.D. in engineering. So, we had the desire to help others and form a non-profit foundation that could make people appreciate art in science, and realize how art and science are actually interconnected.
Women have a different, innate perspective and understanding of the world. Do not lose that, embrace the essence of what it means to be a woman. Do not force yourself to look like men, to think like men to be successful.
SO WHAT WAS THE RESULT? The
Art Loves Science Foundation. The foundation will organize concerts, art exhibitions, and art sales that will generate funds for students who wants to stay in science and support their work. I already give lectures, teach students, but I want to do even more to help young minds stay in science.
AS A LEADER IN YOUR FIELD, HOW DO YOU EMPOWER WOMEN?
Women have a different perspective and they have amazing courage. It is often women who detect injustice and unfairness, and have the courage to speak up. We need to foster that even more going forward. I help educate girls in science and give fellowships to help them complete their education. I am part of STEM, and I want to see more women leaving their mark in every aspect of life— across both the sciences and arts. Learn more about Art Loves Science Foundation at artlovesscience.org.
This issue features women in entertainment with Yolonda Ross on the cover.