LINDEMER TACKLING BIG, HARD PROBLEMS
Dr. Emily Lindemer credits her failures for putting her on the path she’s on—from a bachelor’s degree in computational neuroscience and computer science to a Ph.D. degree from a joint Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) program and then a dual career as a scientist in imaging analytics at IBM Watson Health and an entrepreneur and founder of Hey,Charlie, an app to aid in addiction recovery. In fact, she values her failures so much that, when defending her Ph.D. dissertation, she included a curriculum vitae of the failures and rejections she’d experienced. “It was important to me that people understand that this body of work that encompassed the previous four years of my life was a result of a million things that didn’t work out along the way,” she explains.
One of the first divergences from her expected path was opting to forgo medical school. “My grandmother was diagnosed with a type of dementia that is not Alzheimer’s when I was in high school, and I had this reaction of ‘Wow, I can’t believe that can happen to someone’s brain’,” she recalls. “So, I planned to study neuroscience and then go to medical school to help with problems like that.” A requirement of McGill University’s neuroscience program was computer science, which initially frustrated Lindemer. “I didn’t want to learn to code, but then I ended up being surprised by how much I loved it,” she shares. As a result, she chose to minor in computer science.
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