Yasaman Soudagar - 2018 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Neurescence Inc., Canada
Country of Birth: Iran
I was lucky not to lose the curiosity all children naturally have as I grew up. I knew from middle school that I wanted to do science. In high school, I fell in love with physics, because I learned we can use mathematics to achieve levels of certainty about the world.
As founder and CEO of a young company I am responsible for building up the team, raising capital, product development and marketing/sales. I invented and patented Neurescence's technology. In the photo you see my invention in action - thanks to a great group of collaborating brain researchers. It is a small microscope attached to multiple regions of the brain of a mouse and Neurescence's software that collects the data. Brain scientists use this technology to see the activity of neurons in real time as the mouse freely moves around. This allows establishing a causal connection between activities of particular types of neurons and the animal behavior.
During my career, the problem was the advice people gave rather than the advice they didn't give. I was told mostly how to be a 'good' woman. After all, social cues and invisible pressures dictate that regardless of her expertise, a good woman gets married by a certain age and dutifully raises healthy children. If she happens to have a profession as well, then good for her.
If I were to give a young woman a word of advice I would tell her to take her passions and profession seriously. Once you reach it, the same people who were trying to stop you will admire you and draw inspiration from you.
And If you are considering a career in STEM, then congratulations! You will surround yourself with a unique group of individuals who always think and talk of amazing and unusual things. You will not have a boring life and will always be excited by the fantastic things you discover, invent, and build during your career. Your choice will help fix the gender imbalance in most fields, because you will bring a new and fresh culture to them.