Nina is a tissue engineer at Columbia University, adjunct professor of Electrical Engineering at Cooper Union (teaching a "Bioelectricity" course), and certified yoga instructor. Her research involves the use of electrical signalling for directing cell differentiation. In parallel, she is also pursuing her interest in scientific entrepreneurship and leadership via an executive MBA at Columbia. Check out www.ninatandon.com for more info!
She began her career in telecom at Avaya Labs, designing enterprise communications software, spent one year as a Fulbright Scholar in Rome, Italy, working on an electronic nose used to “smell” lung cancer, and then completed her PhD at MIT and Columbia, studying electrical stimulation for cardiac tissue engineering. After spending a year as an associate at McKinsey, she is now continuing her research on electrical stimulation for broader tissue engineering applications.
In her spare time, Nina practices yoga, meditation, running, throwing surprise parties, metal-smithing, playing with puppies, baking, and putting on a backpack to explore.
TEDActive 2014, TED Fellows Retreat 2013, TED2013, TEDGlobal 2012, TED2012, TED2011
Areas of Expertise
Biomimicry, Tissue Engineering, Jewelry Design & Silversmithing, Stem Cells, Bioelectricity, Bioreactors, watergun assassination, Climbing Fences, Making Fresh Pasta, Headstands
An idea worth spreading
“Our cells are geniuses.” In my research in cardiac tissue engineering, I've seen this first-hand: I grow cardiac tissue from cells in carefully-designed systems delivering electrical signals mimicking those experienced during development, daily life, or wound healing. But the cells really do all the work--it makes me wonder what other "intelligence" lives within us, in unexpected places, as unsung heroes--I suspect quite a lot!
Although it is outside my expertise, another idea I'm cranking on is that “rest is work." What suffering could we prevent if we waged war against the sympathetic branches of our autonomic nervous system, which "tricks" our bodies into thinking there is literally a tiger lurking at each beep of the smartphone!? This "war" would be fought with "weapons" of meditation and slow food, turning the idea of "work" on its head, maybe even literally (headstands, triggering pressure sensors in the carotid artery, are powerful initiators of the relaxation response).
I'm passionate about
I am passionate about science education (especially for young girls and in developing countries), entrepreneurship (both science-based and social) and stewardship (of our bodies and the environment).
Talk to me about
- the heart
- 90s hip hop
- DJ Fluffy blanket + MC Pillow
- bad poetry
- starting a business
- clinical trials w/ holistic medicine
People don't know I'm good at
deciphering pharmaceutical pipelines, playing drums, darkroom photography, making fresh pasta, yoga, navigating through complex urban environments, shooting waterguns, running marathons *slowly*
My TED story
it began back in the 90s, and involves me hiding behind some urban foliage, as well as the 1st Star Wars prequel...fast forward through a decade or so, and a nomination for a TED Fellowship -- ask me about it some time :)