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Nan Li, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor, Thomas O. Hicks Scholar in Medical Research
“To create something new.”

Contributions to STEMM

As a scientist, Dr. Li works “to solve brain science problems in health and disease with preclinical whole-brain functional imaging that integrates molecular and system neuroscience,” she said. Specifically, “I'm interested in understanding the neural mechanisms of reward, learning, and memory.”

Advice for the Next Generation

“I guess I've never accepted that being a girl means you are weaker,” Dr. Li said. Instead, she advised “young girls and women to follow their passion for pursuing their careers in STEMM and staying strong against the gender bias of society, especially unconscious biases. Don't be afraid to speak up for ourselves and our future generations.”

The UT Southwestern Difference

Dr. Li believes the best part of her job to be her “group of excellent colleagues with the same strong passion for science,” she said. At UT Southwestern, “I get constant intellectual inspiration from colleagues and collaborators across the campus. And I can impact the next generation by mentoring students in the lab or the classroom. I’m excited that we are developing a new neuroimaging course for senior undergrad and graduate students about the most advanced neuroimaging technologies from bench to bedside.” When encountering obstacles in her work, Dr. Li “feels quite rewarded when solving problems. The other side of an obstacle could be a great opportunity.”

Dr. Li noted that she was “excited and grateful” to be participating in the Celebrating Breakthroughs Together Project. “It's challenging to make minorities visible and recognized, especially for women scientists,” she said.

“I hope someday gender is no longer a problem we must fight. In the future, younger generations will have as many female role models as males.”

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