New blogger Nidhi Srivaths: attracted to words


Before moving to the United States, the concept of a “Starbucks NameWas a stranger to me, but after six cups of coffee reading everything from “Nemo” to a simple unintelligible scribble, I saw the need for it. Back home in India, my name was quite common, but having to repeat myself several times to always being misheard suddenly makes you feel exceptionally unique.

Speech can often be difficult, and growing up in a family that speaks four languages ​​interchangeably, I’ve always been keenly aware of this. Missing a tongue roll on the word for “say” in Kannada makes it inappropriate at the table, and a small slippage of the Telugu vowel can completely change the context of the conversation. I lived in the best city objectively in India, Hyderabad, which has its special version of Hindi, which was unacceptable in a conversation with my mother’s dialect. Language was therefore the most unique part of my upbringing, and unconventionally twisted sentences that combined the vocabulary of two languages ​​and the grammar of another are characteristic of my childhood.

Raised in the midst of the chaotic storm of my family’s polyglotism, I found my shelter under the pages of books. Writing quickly became for me a beautiful structure of stability, and the decisiveness of ink on paper attracted me to it. At first I started reading just because I loved running my finger over the smooth finish of my brother’s gigantic encyclopedia, but soon my childish captivation with the book turned into a fascination with its content. I loved looking up and saying difficult words, and my favorite words were always scientific terms.

So the world of science was the next logical destination.

My strange love for the word “bioluminescence” led me to the ocean, and for months I dreamed of glowing plankton and starfish. When the “constellation” caught my eye, I spent years imagining myself flying through the vast expanse of outer space, traveling to the ends of the universe as a astronaut. From the cozy confines of my room, I walked through Egyptian ruins with the “pharaoh”, Norse myths with “valkyrie” and dinosaur dig sites with “paleontology”. Finally, it was an anatomy book that linked me to the world of health and the human body, and my brother’s weekly tech magazine that pushed me towards automation, before settling on the common ground that I love now – biomedical engineering. Now a second year student majoring in BME and ECE, I’m learning new words every day!

Scientific innovations and advances are often considered difficult to understand, which discourages many from learning more about them. But science is ingrained in all facets of our daily lives, and I think it is essential (now, more than ever!) that its literature and its progress become more accessible and understandable. As a child, it was the simple, clear, and concise language of blogs and informal books that convinced me that I belong to the fields I read about, and as a blogger I want to convince many others besides the world of science is well within their reach! Whimsical terms like glycolysis might sound intimidating, but it can all be broken down and simplified (in this case, literally!). By blogging for Duke Research, I hope to meet pioneers, learn and write about the research that fascinates me and make it accessible to more people. Along the way, I want to introduce the next curious little girl to the exotic word that feeds her imagination, propelling her into the world of science!

However, beyond my altruistic mission to spread the good word of science and technology far and wide, I recently found a new and much more relevant reason to love writing: I don’t need a name. Starbucks ! It’s a parcel easier to tell you my name is Nidhi.

Nidhi Srivaths post, class of 2024


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