Aakanksha majored in Biochemistry for her undergraduate studies at St. Xavier’s College, Gujarat University, India, where she earned the University’s top rank and gold medal. Her undergraduate thesis on tissue culture of an endangered plant species was conducted in the lab of Vincent Braganza. She then joined the National Center for Biological Sciences, India, where her research as an MSc candidate in the lab of Obaid Siddiqi marked the beginning of her career in molecular neuroscience. Her graduate research with Gian Garriga at the University of California, Berkeley focused on developmental neurobiology, specifically asymmetric cell divisions and cell fate specification in the nervous system. Her postdoctoral research on glia-neuron interactions, with Shai Shaham at The Rockefeller University, was supported by fellowships from the American Cancer Society and the Murray Foundation. She is a recipient of the Simons Foundation for Autism research (SFARI) Bridge to Independence Award; a Glenn Foundation – American Federation for Aging Research Junior Faculty Award; and the Anderson Foundation- Marco J. Heider Foundation Junior Faculty Award.
Passionate about DEI advocacy and mentorship in science, Aakanksha serves as a Faculty Advisor to ODEI at Fred Hutch, and previously as the trainee member of the Rockefeller University’s Strategic Planning Committee on Diversity Initiatives. Among other engagements, she also serves as Faculty Advisor to the Steering Committee, Early Career Leadership Program, Genetics Society of America.
Aakanksha was born in Rajasthan, India. Outside the lab, she loves dancing (especially Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance form), books, and badminton; and time with her family and mini-bernedoodle Veera. Her favorite quote for science and life is “We are interested in just about everything. But the brevity of life being what it is compels selectivity” (credit: Alexander J Varshavsky).