For 25 year old, Shalini Guleria, science presents a world of curiosity and opportunity. It is this outlook that has led her to the position of PhD candidate at ONJCRI, while also pursuing ways to bring the magic of science to young children.

At the ONJCRI, Shalini’s research is focused on understanding the role of adipose tissue, or fat, in mammary gland development and also in breast cancer progression.

As part of the Cancer Single Cell Genomics Laboratory, Shalini explains that she is, “using a range of innovative techniques to explore this area and understand the underlying mechanisms in relation to cancer”.

As well as completing her PhD, Shalini is also the founder of a social enterprise called Science Box, which started in late 2018 in New Zealand. The aim of Science Box is to empower children to be involved in science.

“I know that there are so many children out there aged between 5 and 12 who fear science,” says Shalini.

“This was confirmed when I heard a young girl say science was too hard, mostly for boys and you had to be super clever to do it,” she said.

Her vision is to empower children of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds and demographics to enjoy the magic of science. Science Box aims to explore different science concepts in engaging ways while using household items.

In recognition of her outstanding achievements, Shalini was recently named one of New Zealand’s YWCA’s Y25: 25 women, 25 years and under, doing incredible things. The YWCA describe these women as some of the most inspirational young women, including some truly exciting, dynamic forces in the start-up scene.

“This is an incredible honour to be recognised amongst some trail blazing young women and also a big acknowledgement to my team at Science Box for their continual support,” said Shalini.

Shalini’s PhD supervisor and Head of the Cancer Single Cell Genomics Laboratory, Dr Bhupinder Pal says, “It is inspiring to see Shalini use her research expertise and love of science to encourage a new generation. We are all incredibly excited for Shalini on receiving this recognition”.

So, where to from here? Shalini says, “apart from completing my PhD and using my research to make a difference for people with breast cancer, I also want to make an impact on STEM education by taking Science Box global!”

Given all that Shalini has achieved already, it is not hard to believe that these goals will indeed become a reality.

Congratulations Shalini, on this well deserved recognition.

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