Unique Scientist: Dani Beck

Say hello to Dani Beck (He/Him)! Dani lives in Norway where he works at the University of Oslo. You can follow Dani on Twitter at @_DaniBeck and on Instagram at @_dani.beck.

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a neuroscientist interested in the interchangeable connection between our cardiovascular system and the brain. Cardiovascular risk factors are associated with an increased risk of brain disorders, including stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, in addition to ageing-related cognitive decline.

I’m interested in researching this heart-brain axis in order to better predict the likelihood and risk of brain disorders in order to improve intervention strategies.

“As a child of war, an immigrant to Norway, and a refugee from the 91 war in Iraq, being an Arab growing up in Europe has been a cornerstone to most of my struggles.”

Dani Beck

What made you want to become a scientist?
Obviously for of all the money involved, free weekends, and how easy the job is! No, this is #UniqueScientists so I’ll be honest despite how isolated I usually am on this topic. As an atheist, I essentially believe there is no meaning to life, and our purpose can only be shaped by what we decide to do with our one life on earth, no matter how long or short it is. I believe science, and the advancement of knowledge and the human race is what gives life the most meaning, and this made me want to be a scientist.

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
As a child of war, an immigrant to Norway, and a refugee from the 91 war in Iraq, being an Arab growing up in Europe has been a cornerstone to most of my struggles. Unfortunately, this has not stopped as I’ve entered the scientific field. Not only am I underrepresented (especially living in Norway), but I still face racism and discrimination. Recently I was told that I don’t look like a scientist. Not quite sure what a scientist is meant to look like so I’m happy there is this platform to showcase many scientists like me, from around the world, underrepresented.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
A life outside of work? You have me mistaken for someone else. I guess I’m not so unique here. I love to hike, like to run. I enjoy cooking, watching football (a thing plenty of other scientists have tried to shame me for too, like what? Scientists aren’t allowed to be sporty or watch sports?). I enjoy cleaning waaaay too much–it’s almost a hobby. I read when I can, and comment a lot on current events and politics. 

“As an atheist, I essentially believe there is no meaning to life, and our purpose can only be shaped by what we decide to do with our one life on earth, no matter how long or short it is.”

Dani Beck

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I would definitely change journal publishing. It incentivises researchers to commit questionable research practices, cherry pick data, and even commit fraud. The race for high impact and pressure to publish in prestigious journals places the focus on research results and not research practice. Publication bias in journals is also culpable here and plays a part in why we seek a significant p-value or positive results. This discovery of journal publishing ‘norms’ is much to blame for researchers p-hacking results. Sorry what was the question again? Yes, reform journal publishing.

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
Another morbid answer: everyone that did not believe in me inspired me the most. I’ve always had my own ambition and motivation for doing what I do. I’ve always had my own drive and goals, but through each stage of the educational ladder I’ve always come across teachers and lecturers that haven’t believed in me, whether it be because of how I dressed, how I spoke, who I hung out with, what music I listened to, or what kind of person I ‘seemed’ like. This inspired me to prove a lot of people wrong along the way.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I get a lot of DMs on Twitter from people around the world seeking a friend to speak to and someone to confide in. This week I spoke to 17 people. Some weeks it’s more, some less. I just try to do what I can. I think it’s okay to be proud of that.

#BrownInSTEM

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