I lived in three different countries as a kid. My family left Russia when I was seven years old to seek better opportunities. We settled down in Princeton, NJ. I attended Brown University for my undergraduate degree, where I studies Neuroscience and Molecular Biology. After Brown, I moved to California to attend Stanford Graduate School in the Genetics Department. I love academia, I love teaching, and my goal is to become a professor.
I fell in love with the outdoors at an early age and have been hiking, cross-country skiing, running and biking for most of my life. I started rock climbing in college. It fit my personality perfectly: I love the views from high up, I love getting tired, and it requires an addictive combination of physical and mental strength and agility. At Stanford I became active in the rock climbing community and helped organize slide shows and teach classes. I was president of the Stanford Alpine Club.
On October 31st, 2015 I fell 60 feet while rock climbing in Yosemite National Park. The fall fractured the L1 vertebra of my spine. I also broke my thumb, my scapula, fractured several ribs and deflated a lung. I was rescued and flown by helicopter to Stanford Hospital, where surgeons fused five vertebrae of my spine. I was paralyzed from the waist down when I woke up but sensation and function quickly started to return.
Before the accident, I was training to run a 50k. I had climbed El Cap and the North Face of Half Dome and lived for taking my next climbing trip. My physical abilities and my independence are at the core of my identity. Exercise and being outside were my source of comfort at times of stress and difficulty. The accident left me scrambling to find ways to be happy again. I am working hard, every day, towards the goal of walking again so I can regain independence exploring the outdoors.