26. Nina Tandon

Research Scientist of Columbia University, How To Create The Future

26. Nina Tandon
Illustration by Alison Cowles


Creates cardiac tissue for potential use in human transplants


What does the biotech field need more of?

“We need more people embracing science. We need more kids, young kids, U.S. citizens who are psyched about it–especially young girls.”

How can creativity improve your field?

“My first exposure to bioelectricity was with music: I was designing and building theremins, an instrument that capitalizes on our body’s ability to interfere with circuits. Now I’m collaborating with another TED fellow to try to make a musical instrument out of the cells in my lab. So art and science seem to continually overlap in my life.”

What impediment do you often come across?

“A lot of the problems revolve around equipment or technology. When it’s an equipment problem, I like to start with things that do work. I start taking the hardware apart until it does things in a predictable way. Then I rebuild it to see at what point it fails. I make a diagnosis, like a doctor.”


Click here to see head-to-head responses to these questions from Tandon, plus computer scientist Miriah Meyer, and molecular animator Janet Iwasa, Nos. 24 and 25 on our Most Creative People list.


  • 2003

    Receives Fulbright Scholarship

  • 2011

    Named TED fellow

  • 2012

    Named TED senior fellow

  • Receives presidential fellowships at both Columbia University and MIT

  • Runs five marathons