Shruti Naik: She’s Rockin’ the Science Lab

February 13 - On The Dot

FIRST THOUGHT: The 48-hour Rule

Have you heard of the 48-hour rule? It’s the concept that when you receive constructive criticism or feedback, you take a couple days to absorb it as if it were true. Say your boss suggests you rework part of an already finished project. Your first reaction might involve a little stubbornness and self-pity mixed with some serious complaining to your colleagues at lunch. Instead, sit with it if you can. Time can often be the one thing that helps us see clearly, and it also ensures you put some emotional distance between the feedback and yourself.


One industry in which workers better be OK with a little constructive criticism is STEM. And these days, there are plenty of smart ladies aiming to dominate this field. But women have had to work extra hard to prove their mettle and intellect in the sciences. We can thank one Ivy League administrator for helping to pave the way for women in science. In the early 1900s, Edward Charles Pickering, director of the Harvard Observatory, replaced his passionless male research assistant with his own maid, a woman named Williamina Fleming. It turns out Williamina totally killed it at the job, so much so that this smarty-pants ended up working at Harvard for 34 years. The move was such a success that during his tenure, the director ended up hiring more than 80 women to compute and catalogue data.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Shruti Naik, Scientist at The Rockefeller University

Today’s Woman to Watch follows in the groundbreaking footsteps of the many brilliant female researchers who came before her, standing on the edge of discovery while also working to ensure more women enter the field and become prominent scientists in their own right. Her name is Shruti Naik, and as a scientist at The Rockefeller University, she’s an innovating force in the realm of immunology and stem-cell biology.

Shruti holds a bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology, and a Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Pennsylvania, so, obviously, she really knows her science stuff. But let’s break down how her important work is positively impacting humanity. Shruti’s research involves figuring out how stem cells can help treat inflammatory skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema, conditions that affect millions of Americans.

Part of Shruti’s crucial research has already had a major consumer impact. Her work, along with the work of other scientists, led to the recent FDA ban on antibacterial soap in the U.S., as data suggests some ingredients in these products may be harmful in the long term, even posing health risks like bacterial resistance and hormonal effects. And Shruti notes that antibacterial washes haven’t been scientifically proven to prevent germs better than good, old-fashioned plain soap and water.

That’s a pretty amazing feat. But it’s far from the only recognition Shruti has received for her work. In 2016, L'Oréal named Shruti a Women in Science Fellow, awarding her a $60,000 grant. This fellowship will enable Shruti to produce a series of interviews with leading female scientists, with the goal of inspiring the next generation of women in STEM.

In fact, Shruti is a strong proponent of getting more women into the sciences, and has worked to make that a reality at The Rockefeller University, where she helped grow the Women and Science program from six members to more than 250 members. Keep up the great work, Shruti!


With Shruti Naik in mind, today’s quote comes from scientist and Nobel Prize winner Gertrude B. Elion. She said:

“Don’t be afraid of hard work. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Don’t let others discourage you or tell you that you can’t do it. In my day, I was told women didn’t go into chemistry. I saw no reason why we couldn’t.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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