Dr. Mona Minkara, a blind assistant professor of Bioengineering at Northeastern University, advocate, and travel vlogger, lives by the maxim that vision is more than sight. As a computational chemist, Mona’s research explores pulmonary surfactants, which is a substance composed of lipids and proteins on the air/liquid interface of the lungs. Mona’s journey to science was unconventional. Raised in the Boston area with her two siblings by Lebanese immigrant parents, Mona was diagnosed with macular degeneration and cone-rod dystrophy at age seven. After pushing through the public school system, Mona ultimately obtained her undergraduate degree at Wellesley College, her doctoral degree in chemistry at the University of Florida, and held a postdoctoral position at the University of Minnesota for four years before coming home to Boston as a faculty member at Northeastern University.
At Northeastern, Mona’s COMBINE (Computational Modeling for BioInterface Engineering) Laboratory utilizes computational chemistry to study interactions that occur at biological interfaces. As a professor, Mona is deeply passionate about making scientific materials accessible to blind and low-vision individuals, especially students. Mona is involved with a number of organizations and committees, including the Chemists with Disabilities division of the American Chemical Society, Writing Science in Braille, and her own initiative, Blind Stem Curriculum. To further her goal of bringing awareness to low-vision independent travelers and thinkers, Mona documents her adventures globe-trotting the world using public transportation in her travel-vlogging YouTube series, Planes, Trains, and Canes.