Please tell us about yourself

Mandakini is improving clinical methods to detect traumatic brain injury. She is building a photoacoustics imaging platform that aims to detect blood under the skull in a non-invasive manner when a patient experiences a traumatic brain injury. “We are trying to detect a hematoma, which is clotted blood that could form under the skull as a result of brain injury. This is very dangerous and life threatening.”

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How does your work benefit the society?

Currently, the only way to detect blood under the skull is through a CT scanner. “We want to create a more accessible hand-held device with lower risks of ionizing-radiation that can detect bleeds right away.”

“Receiving and providing mentorship is how we’re learning and thriving, and building a new generation of smart, hardworking individuals. Great mentorship has the ability to bring about change. It means working with a student one and one and bringing out the qualities in them that will help them succeed in the future.”

What was your inspiration in your career journey?

“I’ve been lucky to have female mentors in engineering and healthcare. When I worked at Ontario Power Generation, my mentor was the section manager on our plant design electrical team. She effectively managed a group of 10 senior engineers who were older than her. I watched her lead with excellence during multiple complex and stressful projects, and I was blown away. It empowered me to see something like that. Being mentored by a woman in engineering does a lot for you. It can change how you feel about future positions and opportunities.”

“Currently, I am being mentored by a female clinician at a fertility clinic. I watch her dedicate so much time to each patient and put all her heart into her work. That has been life changing for me because I see how she changes someone’s life and pulls them out of a dark place using her empathy and expertise. Patients leave the clinic feeling empowered and I get to experience that every day. I think it’s incredible.”

How was the experience at McMaster ?

“We have an amazing academic environment, students and faculty. The greatest thing about engineering students is their team spirit. It’s not a competitive world where people want to better than you. It’s a team. We do everything as a team and we grow better as a team by helping each other out.”

How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?

“Through a variety of mentors I’ve had, including nurses, scientists, engineers and doctors, I’ve realized what my true passion is – I want to provide direct healthcare. I want to interact with patients, deliver health education and increase their healthcare access. But I don’t want to be a purely practice-focused doctor. Being from an engineering background gives me the skills to be able to contribute to the ever-changing world of healthcare through innovation and unique problem solving. By contributing to healthcare technologies that help deliver care to patients more efficiently and practicing as a physician, my goal is to impact healthcare at a macro and micro level.”