Polina Anikeeva explores ways to make neural probes that are compatible with delicate biological tissues.
Polina Anikeeva was born in Leningrad, USSR, but grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia; the city’s name reverted to its original form after the fall of the Soviet Union. While in school there, she encountered two inspiring scientists who helped propel her toward a career at MIT, where she now develops cutting-edge materials to help researchers probe the mysteries of the brain.
Anikeeva’s parents are both engineers, and she became interested very early on in figuring out how to make things that hadn’t been made before. She has pursued that passion through all her work — as the Class of 1942 Associate Professor in Materials Science and Engineering and in her other activities. She has been an active climber and runner (she ran her third Boston Marathon last year), and as an avid artist she occasionally creates paintings to illustrate her scientific research or help her students visualize scientific concepts.
One of her earliest influences, she says, was Mikhail Georgievich Ivanov, the founder of a small math and science magnet school she attended in St. Petersburg, and her physics teacher there. “He was just a brilliant physics teacher and educated a lot of scientists who are now scattered across the world. He was a scientist himself and had worked in a research lab. But then he realized that his real passion and talent was educating kids,” she recalls.
Read more: Seeking materials that match the brain
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