Research Fellow: Harini Sridhar

Harini Sridhar is a medical student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is pursuing a combined medical education and psychiatry residency program. She previously earned her Master’s in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University and her Bachelor’s in Biology at Duke University. Harini is classically trained in Bharatanatyam, an age-old dance of India. As a dancer for over fifteen years, movement has allowed her to explore themes of community, environmental health, gender identity, and all-abilities. 
 
Co-creating art with communities provided Harini with an appreciation for the power of the arts as a means of connection across culture, language, and age. Dancing on Duke’s classical Indian dance and Raas folk dance teams helped her find a community in college. While spending a semester abroad in South Africa, movement blossomed into conversation on health and community between her and her homestay grandmother.
 
In India, while serving as a teaching assistant at a special needs school, she used the arts to teach menstrual health management to ten-year-old girls with autism. For her undergraduate capstone project in a neuroscience course, Harini studied how dance can improve social and cognitive skills for people of all abilities. She choreographed and taught a piece focused on community development, and through interviews, learned that the dancers shared meaningful new connections and spoke of a catharsis that comes from being heard. Their group performed at the Talent Show of All Abilities at the Durham Performing Arts Center.
 

Harini’s training in dance coupled with her study of Narrative Medicine has allowed her to understand the significance of both verbal and nonverbal expression. This attentiveness has allowed her to understand the nuances of others’ experiences, better attend to suffering, and advocate for those with illness.