Female Comets Making Waves in Their Industries

By Melissa Graham  |  March 8, 2019

Candler Paige, PhD Student in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

As a doctoral candidate in the Pain Neurobiology Research Group at UT Dallas, Candler Paige spends her days studying the molecular differences between how males and females develop chronic pain. Her passion for this specific area of research stemmed from the fact that for years, researchers only focused their work on males and male animals.

“No one thought there could really be this huge molecular difference in how men and women develop this neurological disorder,” Paige said. “But I did all my experiments in males and females, and it was true — this very specific pathway is only important in males; it doesn’t do anything in females.”

Paige hopes her work brings clarity to the way females develop chronic pain and change to how their pain is treated.

“In an ideal world this would translate to drugs that would work in female pain patients,” Paige said. “But before we get to that step, we need to figure out the underlying mechanisms and why the females are so different. Hopefully, this translates to humans, but the first step is to make sure it’s real by testing this in multiple male and female animals. We need to do all the molecular backup work.”

Although Paige’s research has continued to progress since she came to UT Dallas in 2015, each day in the lab brings its own challenges.

“There are definitely days where I come in and I’m like, ‘OK, we’re going to figure it out today,’” Paige said. “And the experiment gives you totally different results.”

Paige credits Dr. Ted Price BS’97, the co-founder and co-director of the Pain Neurobiology Research group, and her education at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, for encouraging her to expand her experience and become a more independent researcher.

“I can design my own experiments and do my own science,” Paige said. “I do spend a lot of time in the lab, but there’s an equal amount of encouragement to develop your career and do things outside of the lab.”

Saadia Sheikh BA’09, Vice President at JLL

SaadiaNaveen Jindal School of Management graduate Saadia Sheikh BA’09 has earned a number of accolades in her 10 years as a real estate broker in Dallas. In 2017, she was a finalist for the North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors and Real Estate Professionals’ Young Citizen Award. That same year, she was also named to the Dallas Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” list, an annual program that selects leaders who make an impression in North Texas.

Sheikh believes her accomplishments are the product of hard work and focus, as well as relationships with others.

“I’ve been able to work with good mentors — people who want to see me succeed and are invested in my success,” Sheikh said.

But beyond her professional success, Sheikh has also made an impact on the community through her philanthropic gifts. In 2017, Sheikh established the Saadia Sheikh Scholarship/Fellowship for Entrepreneurship at UT Dallas, a fund she hopes propels the future careers of other UTD students.

“I’m excited for those students — for what they’re going to do,” Sheikh said. “I hope the scholarship can help contribute to their success.”

In the past year, Sheikh also established Powersense, a nonprofit created to connect and empower deaf and hard of hearing children in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The daughter of deaf parents, Sheikh was inspired by her upbringing and the opportunity to make an impact in children early on.

“I hope to see this impact DFW in a positive way — that this could be in other cities across the country,” she said. The nonprofit is scheduled to host its first event this May at Klyde Warren Park.

As for her advice for budding professionals, Sheikh believes investing in yourself brings the greatest results — in life and in business.

“Constantly work on being a better version of yourself, so you can continue to excel and grow,” Sheikh said. “Surround yourself with people who inspire you, and whatever your goal is, find those who have done it and learn from them.”