Research Fellow 2020-2021: Ruta Sachin Uttarkar

Ruta_3Ruta is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer and a current  sophomore majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Texas at Dallas.  She began her training in Bangalore before completing her Arangethram in 2015 with Guru Medha Dixit. She currently studies with Dr. Ratna Kumar and has performed in the IndianRaga fellowship, Mylapore Fine Arts, Incredible India Festival in houston, Barnstorm Dance Fest, and the Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India Pravasi Utsavam in Chennai in 2019. She is also passionate about research having worked in the Neurobiology of Pain lab and interned as a clinical research assistant at a social enterprise that innovates low cost products to reduce infant and maternal mortality. She hopes to pursue medicine in the future, with a focus on global health.  .

How do Traditional Arts andRuta_2 Medicine combine?

I strongly believe that both dance and medicine beautifully share a similar foundation that they are both built on: empathy and human connection. I have always admired how we as dancers understand the backstory of every character and situation and play and innovate with that understanding to tell stories and perspectives on life and ideas, making it such a moving and healing experience for the dancer and the audience.

–Ruta Sachin Uttarkar

Research Project: 

Menstrual Cycle Narratives of Women of Color: Exploring Understanding and Access to Menstrual Hygiene Products in  Houston

I hope to work with women from diverse backgrounds, both culturally and socioeconomically, to explore the experiences and attitudes toward menstruation, a culturally taboo topic for many.  Thought my own research experiences, the lack of health literacy on women’s physiological processes often leads to detrimental outcomes for women’s health and empowerment. This project can help understand the struggles, stories, and attitudes of women of color in my home community of Houston towards their menstrual cycles and also give a glimpse of accessibility of menstrual hygiene products and that has or has not changed over time.