CBSelfie with Kassra Taghizadeh

February 26, 2020

CBS senior combines passion for science and theater through coursework and extracurriculars, slowly discovering how the seemingly disparate studies intertwine.

Kassra stands in a denim shirt

Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Theatre Arts

What drew you to study neuroscience and theater?
I’ve always loved science, but my bug for performing began in high school. I was really interested in method acting — a technique where actors embrace the thoughts and feelings of their characters to make the performances much more lifelike. I started wondering what neurologically was going through the minds of these actors. Around the same time, my grandfather’s health quickly declined due to a neurodegenerative disease. Despite his slipping memory, he would chant memorized poetry for hours every day. Arts defied his brain’s rapid decline, and that connection moved me.

How do you see neuroscience and theater complimenting each other?
I’m a firm believer in the inherent intersectionality of art and science. I often find myself in discussions about how art manifests itself in science and vice versa. You can’t have one without the other. Open a biology textbook and notice the artistry and creativity in the detailed figures. Or sit in a physical acting class and notice the movements of the human body. I see theatre as a glimpse into the human condition and neuroscience as the study of how — mechanistically speaking — we are able to do so. 

Outside of classes and study sessions, what keeps you busy on campus? 
One of my mantras is that it’s better to be busy than have nothing to do. I’m involved in a number of clubs and groups on and off campus.

  • Throughout my time in CBS I participated in the Dean’s Scholars Program and now serve as a program assistant.
  • I serve as an Admissions Ambassador and a member of the Persian Student Organization of Minnesota.
  • Theater work also keeps me busy. I design and construct sets and give support during live events as an audio engineer.
  • In the community, I volunteer for Ziggy’s Art Bus. It’s a mobile arts therapy bus for children with life-threatening conditions. It’s such a unique volunteer experience and a wonderful way to give back to the community through a combination of art and health. 
  • I was also a member of Basses Wild Men’s A Cappella for three years. I decided to bow out this year because of my heavy course load, but I’m grateful for the lifelong friends I’ve made! 

How did the Dean’s Scholars Program impact your studies in CBS?
The program has been integral in my studies. It helped me reflect on my experiences as a student and as a leader. For years I found myself somewhat alienated in both worlds — the scientist’s world and the artist’s world. The program helped me begin to bridge this and gave me tools to serve as a leader in both spheres.

Right now, what do you see as your dream job?
There is so much I want to do! I hope to work as a pediatric surgeon and teach medical students. Working with my hands has always been an escape. I know it may sound dorky, but I wear fun/patterned socks everyday because I know a lot of pediatricians who do so. It serves as a little reminder of where I want to end up. I also want to stay involved in the theater world and would love to own a small local playhouse in Minneapolis and also tour as a motivational speaker. 

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spot on campus is the main floor of Wilson Library. Because it has been recently renovated it looks so clean and crisp which makes it a great place to study. It is also far enough from my house so I study and don’t procrastinate by going home to take a nap.