Meet the Lithuanian scientist who believes in universal education

After returning to Lithuania, she became a go-to expert on topics from nutrition to her own specialization -- brain research

Daiva Repeckaite
Daiva Repeckaite NewsMavens, Lithuania
Meet the Lithuanian scientist who believes in universal education - NewsMavens
Urte Neniškyte, YouTube

Why this story matters:

In one of her many interviews, Urtė Neniškytė emphasized that she did not return to Lithuania for better conditions to conduct her research. When she left to do her PhD at Cambridge, the level of molecular biology in Lithuania was nowhere close to where it is today, but even now funding does not compare to that for other labs she had access to during her career.

She chose to live in Lithuania because she believed it was a good place to raise children. As she enjoys Lithuania's generous parental leave with her daughter Ūla, she reads scientific literature to keep up with the developments in her field.

Neniškytė focuses on molecular mechanisms that participate in the process when immunity cells in the brain "decide" to kill or spare neurons and neural synapses. This research has the potential to influence the treatment of Alzheimer's and other brain conditions.

In her interview with Verslo pietūs, she says that despite the focus on narrow specialization in contemporary education and science, the best advice she has received was from her grandfather, who said that a person is better defined not by their knowledge in this or that science, but by their ability to be an interesting conversation partner. By studying a broad range of topics, including history and literature, one is more likely to become an excellent scientist than the other way around, she believes.

Details from the story:

  • Urtė Neniškytė is a biochemical scientist who graduated from Cambridge and worked in Italy before returning to Lithuania to continue her research.
  • She works as a Marie Sklodowska Curie Experienced Researcher at the Department of Neurobiology and Biophysics of Life Science Center at Vilnius University.
  • Her work has been featured on the cover of Nature Reviews Neuroscience.
  • Dr Neniškytė was awarded the prestigious L`Oréal-UNESCO Baltic “For Women in Science” fellowship, which she plans to use for various courses.
  • She has also become the go-to scientist for Lithuanian media. Gifted in explaining complex topics in digestible ways for the general public, she uses examples of her maternity experience when relevant to bring science closer to people.
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