Meet Yasmine Bassil – President of the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors, Vice President of External Affairs of the Georgia Tech International Ambassadors, Neuroscience major and Psychology and Computer Science double minor. You know, just your average Lebanese-American twenty-year old living in Atlanta, Georgia.
I was put in touch with Yasmine by virtue of the persona that we both exuded – bubbly and unbreakable.
“You should hit her up,” my best friend chirped. “Y’all are alike.”
Quite soon, we were exchanging photos from study abroad and discussing the work that she presented on neuroimaging at the Organization of Human Brain Mapping (OHBM). OHBM held its annual conference in Singapore just this summer and her trip brought back fond memories from home – all wrapped within the quasi-intellectual package that was Undergraduate Research.
“It was life-altering - I learnt so much from different neuroimaging techniques to behavioural neuroscience and psychology to how to be credible and accurate in scientific research.”
Yasmine began her first semester at Georgia Tech with a set idea of exactly who she thought she was going to be – a successful medical neuro-oncologist. She enjoyed medicine, therefore, after graduating, she would continue to medical school, an internship, residency, and specialization in a certain field to become a qualified physician. With a carefully predetermined career and lifestyle, her younger self envisioned a future that was almost robotic - each step would be deliberately planned, processed, and completed. However, with each additional scheduled step and requirement, she slowly found herself yearning for innovation, searching for something uncertain, something unknown. She began curiously browsing through academic journals and research lab descriptions, searching for how scholars in her community engaged in scientific discovery. Soon, she began to realize how closely her passions aligned with certain neuroscience research happening at Georgia Tech, motivating her to reach out to lab directors, acquiring a position as a student researcher. Two year’s worth of undergraduate research has now taught her that scientific research isn’t the embodiment of its public perception; it isn’t a collection of overly qualified professionals in white lab coats exploding chemicals in test tubes.
“Instead, science is a network for anyone and everyone, at any time and any place, for any discovery or observation, no matter how small. It’s not simply a quantification of results or a publication in a journal; it is a way of being. Science celebrates the unknown, embraces uncertainty, and continuously questions what is thought to be true. In doing so, science becomes a constantly evolving and rapidly advancing field, serving as a collective database for knowledge and evidence-based discovery from academic research.”
Yasmine aspires to be able to communicate this to others who are unaware of what a career in science looks like.
“Research is not data analytics at a desk all day; it is a collective, unifying, and peer-reviewed field, with efficient communication and collaborative work acting as an essential core to scientific discovery and innovation. It requires openness, communication, and inclusivity. I want my work in STEM to not only make a difference through my research and discoveries, but also through communicating to the public what science really means.”
Through her work as a research and international ambassador, Yasmine helps represent a minority that is just as competent, intelligent, and dedicated as any other scientist. Hence she is proud to make a difference just by being a woman in science. For her, it is crucial that every woman confidently embraces her strength, passion, and determination, never letting a male-dominated field intimidate her or make her question her own ability and progress.
“I just wish someone told me to not be so set on a plan for the future. Coming to Georgia Tech, I thought I knew exactly where I was going to be in 5 years. Now, after acquiring new experiences, endless opportunities, and a different perspective on life, there are many more options for me and my future.”
Besides cultivating a forte in research, Yasmine is trilingual in Arabic, English, and French, plays the piano and taught herself the guitar. She enjoys drawing, writing and is a huge Oxford comma enthusiast. Her favourite nights are when she gets to go see the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, visit a new exhibit at the High Museum, or watch a musical at the Fox - the very attributes that drew me to the enigma that is Yasmine. How did she do it, I thought.
“You cannot change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust the sails.”
"This essentially means that you cannot change something that is happening in your life, but you can decide your reaction to it and attitude towards it. My dad used to say this to me this all the time when I was younger; the quote hung in a frame behind his desk, and any time I used to tell him about a problem I was having, he would insist that I keep my calm, positive persona and instead simply ‘adjust the sails.'"