#WomanCrushWednesday celebrates our favorite women in cool industries.
Here, we chat with Amber Alhadeff, neuroscience researcher at University of Pennsylvania who is helping inform the way we think about treating obesity, eating disorders and type II diabetes. Additionally, she is a 2018 recipient of the L’Oréal USA For Women In Science Fellowship — which annually awards five female postdoctoral scientists grants of $60K each to advance their research. Ahead, she shares details about her first job in science, how working in research has impacted her life and what beauty means to her.
Where did you grow up, and how did you get started in your research career?
I grew up in the Lehigh Valley, about an hour outside of the city of Philadelphia. I began running marathons when I was in college at the University of Pennsylvania, and I became interested in the control of food intake and metabolism at that time since it was personally important to me as a runner. I found a laboratory at Penn that researches the neuroscience of eating behavior, emailed the head of the lab to see if they were hiring, and the rest is history!
What was your first job?
I worked as a lifeguard in high school, but my first job in science was as an undergraduate research assistant in a Penn neuroscience laboratory.
How has working in neuroscience research impacted your life, and what moment in your career are you most proud of?
Getting involved in neuroscience research when I was an undergraduate really shaped the trajectory of my life. When I first started college, I thought I wanted to be a medical doctor. However, when I started doing research, I realized that it was the perfect career to combine curiosity and creativity. In fact, one of the best things about my job is that every single day is different, and I am constantly brainstorming and problem solving to figure out new ways to crack difficult problems in neuroscience.
There are two moments in my career so far that have been particularly rewarding. The first was when one of my recent papers was published on how hunger affects our perception. It received a lot of press, and I had colleagues and friends tell me that they saw my work described in the newspaper, on TV, even in a YouTube video! The second moment that I am really proud of was when I received the L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship. I was truly honored to be chosen among such highly accomplished women for this award, and it has been a pleasure to work with a company that is working so hard to increase representation for women in science.
What is your favorite project that you've ever worked on?
I have a longstanding interest in how the gut communicates with the brain to control food intake. A few years ago, I started pioneering techniques to understand how gut signaling affects brain activity, and this project has been really fun and fruitful to work on – so much so that I am still working on it today!
If you weren't in research, what would you be doing?
That’s a great question — to be honest I can’t really imagine doing anything else!
Tell us a little bit about your current makeup routine.
I don’t wear any makeup on a daily basis when I am working at the lab, and this makes it really fun to wear makeup when I go out at night or on the weekends. When I do wear makeup, I like to accentuate my eyes with dark liner and lashes. Bronzer is also a must, especially in the summer.
What's your favorite makeup product at the moment?
I really like L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Mascara right now.
What's your advice for young girls who want to work in research?
Get involved as soon as possible. Often times, it is intimidating to get involved in research, especially if you have little to no experience. But anyone can be a scientist, all it takes is hard work, dedication, and curiosity.
Finally, what does beauty mean to you?
Beauty to me is all about confidence. Being confident about who you are on the inside and the outside, and embracing our individuality, is beautiful to me.