Barber Lab Student: Akanksha Mathivanan

Akanksha Mathivanan studies TBI and sleep in the Barber lab

Akanksha S. Mathivanan is a Rutgers sophomore and an aspiring physician-scientist who intends to forge a career in medical research.

She is also living with a traumatic brain injury.

Last summer Mathivanan joined Barber’s lab as part of an Aresty Research Center program, exploring the impact of brain injuries on the ability to sleep. In the experiments she conducted with senior researcher Michael Fetchko, fruit flies with moderate to severe brain injuries were placed into activity monitors where an infrared beam is used to measure their activity and determine how much they are sleeping.

“Akanksha’s work with Michael shows that in fact we do see progressive change in sleep architecture,” Barber says. “Flies don’t just lose sleep right away in this short period after the injury. They continue to have this persistent change in when they sleep and how much they sleep. That is something we are really interested in because it captures aspects of the human experience.”