Chicago-based PhD student and semi-professional dancer.

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Hi, I’m Sonal!

I’m a creative who also loves science. I was born into a family of biologists and chemists, painters and thespians, historians and entrepreneurs. This diverse legacy is probably the reason why I’m constantly driven to learn new things.

Sonal at the Chicago March for Science in 2017.

Currently, I’m pursuing my PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. I chose this field and program because of its interdisciplinary nature. I enjoy building expertise simultaneously in surface chemistry, materials processing and characterization, additive manufacturing technologies, and solid state device physics through my research on 2D material electronic devices. My undergraduate degree is from UC Berkeley, where I studied Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering. Check out my Science page or my blog to learn more about my work.

Being a dancer in Indian movies was my first dream career. More than a physical activity, dance is a form of storytelling to me. Indian dance styles have emotion-rich gestures and facial expressions, which complement the meaning of a song. Engaging with an audience and pulling them into my story, even if it’s their first time watching Indian dance, is what motivates me.

I am trained in Bharatanatyam, one of India’s classical dance forms, and am self taught in Bollywood’s “filmi” dance style. I now dance semi-professionally in Chicago with Meher Dance. Check out my dance portfolio here!

I’m always taking on new projects and finding ways to improve my community. At work, I’ve led a variety of initiatives to make our lab spaces safer and more productive. I’ve served on the boards of campus chapters of Society of Women Engineers and American Institute of Chemical Engineers with the goal of improving my peers’ academic, professional, and social experiences. I’ve organized a large philanthropic dance event through Laasya 2016, where proceeds were donated to Asha for Education. Developing and executing a vision is a exciting process for me, and I continue to hone my leadership skills as a Fellow of the Northwestern Center for Leadership.

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Sonal’s Lab Notebook

Life is an experiment, so make sure it’s documented well!

Check out my blog posts about science, dance, and more, and follow my Instagram @sonals.lab.notebook.

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