“Katie” has partnered with Dove to share the stories of some of the most inspiring women in our lives. Katie always says that some of the most fascinating people she’s met have been the ones whose names you may not recognize. For this series, “Women Who Should Be Famous” we are asking you, our viewers to tell us about the real women in your lives who are doing positive, impactful work in their communities. We are looking for role models who have overcome personal insecurities, especially as it relates to their appearance. Our imperfections – although sometimes difficult to accept – are what make us who we are. The women in this series represent a true meaning of real beauty. Do you know a woman who should be famous? Share her story.
There’s no one more excited about science than Nina Tandon. She’s a 32-year-old tissue engineer at Columbia University and she’s growing… wait for it… heart! That’s right, she’s growing one of the most complex organs in the body.
Not only does Nina grow living heart, she makes it sound easy.
“I like to say it’s a lot like a mix between gardening and cooking because you need the right ingredients and then you need to follow the recipe. And in our case a little system we call a bioreactor… we flow the ingredients through the tube and we have cells inside the system and we have electrical signals come from the outside and often we learn what the recipe should be.”
While Nina was on stage with Katie talking about her groundbreaking work, her female mentees were giggling in the Katie green room filming Nina on TV with their iPhones. “If this doesn’t show we’re nerds, I don’t know what does!”
Nina is a self-professed nerd and she’s proud of it. She even wore a necklace with the word “NERD” to our taped interview. But when she talks about her younger years, she remembers her low self-esteem and not feeling like the leader she is today. It was her fluffy hair, or “fro” as she calls it, that embarrassed her back then… but makes her laugh today.
Thinking back on those early years, Nina attributes her pursuit of science to her father, who always knew she had a knack for the subject. An engineer himself, Nina’s father told her that she owed it to women to go after math and science and that in doing so she would inspire other women.
Nina is now on a mission to spread that message, to tell young people – and especially young girls – that science is fascinating and “cool.” Six senior thesis students from Cooper Union intern for Nina in her lab at Columbia University. Just last weekend, Nina gave her third TED Talk and this time, to high school students. She encouraged them to get excited about science and reminded them how science can change the world.
Nina is a woman that we think should be famous and a woman that we believe will someday change the world.