Chinmayi Balusu is an 18-year-old from northern California. She is a second-year undergraduate student pursuing neuroscience and medical humanities at Columbia University. Chinmayi has a background in biomedicine and neurodegenerative diseases and is currently contributing to cognitive neuroscience and traumatic brain injury research. She is the founder and CEO of Simply Neuroscience, an international student-led non-profit organization dedicated to fostering students’ interest in interdisciplinary neuroscience education, outreach, and awareness. Chinmayi is also a passionate women in STEM advocate, public speaker, youth science communicator, and martial artist.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early Bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?

There are a few friendly squirrels that regularly roam around my backyard!

4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?


5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?

Telugu and Spanish

8 If you could switch professions, what would you do?

I’m still finding my future career, to be honest! 🙂

9 If you could switch science fields, what field would you want to work in?


10 If you got a plane ticket right now, where would it go?

New York City

11 If you had one superpower, what would it be?


12 Is there anything you strongly recommend we watch and/or read and/or listen to?

Sappho’s poetry

13 It’s your day off. What do you want to do?

Read for the entire day

14 What are three things you can’t live without?

Spotify, yogurt, and sunshine

15 What beverage gives you life?

Water (simple and sweet!)

16 What book did you read in school that positively shaped you?

“Body of Work” by Dr. Christine Montross

17 What did you want to be when you grew up?

Physician and scientist!

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

There’s so much more out there to learn and I’m just getting started!

19 What got you excited in science?

I think the human body is absolutely fascinating and I’m very curious about anatomy. For neuroscience: I stumbled across a brain model in late middle school and was mindblown (pun intended) by how many different parts of the brain there were and how they worked together.

20 What excites you about science now?

Fascinated by the ever increasing multidisciplinary connections of science.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Bad karaoke

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I’m an amateur poet!

23 What is your favorite game?


24 What is the last book you read?

“The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman

25 What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received?

A Spanish quote that was shared with me: “Los mejores momentos de la vida son los más simples,” which means “the best moments in life are the simplest ones.”

26 What is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do?

Writing an entire collection of poems!

27 What is the best advice for your 18 year old self?

Funny thing is I’m actually 18 years old at the moment! 🙂

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Having a karaoke Zoom call

29 What is the last thing you watched?

A YouTube video from the Smithsonian Channel called “An American Aristocrat’s Guide to Great Estates: Inveraray Castle”

30 What is the weirdest thing you’ve had in your bag?

Five containers of yogurt (you can tell I absolutely love yogurt)

31 What is your favorite animal?

A tiger

32 What is your favorite book?

I have too many favorites! Anything medical fiction related is on my favorites list

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?


35 What is your favorite plant?

Any kind of flower plant

36 What is your favorite science fact?

The brain does not feel any pain since there are no pain receptors.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Fresh dirt after a heavy rain

39 What is your favorite sound?

Birds chirping

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

A happy smile that goes along with my name (which means “happiness”)

41 What is your favorite word (in any language)?


42 What is your proudest moment?

When a young elementary school student came up to me after a neuroscience workshop I was hosting and told me that I was “super cool”

43 What kind of tree would you be?

Avocado tree

44 What’s the best thing about where you live?

I’m surrounded by many trees and bike trails that make it seem as though I’m surrounded by nature

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

I’m a third-degree black belt in taekwondo

46 Who would you like to see 46 Questions interview next?

Raven Baxter: