Seven Questions With Aylia Mohammadi

Dr. Aylia Mohammadi (BSc, MSc, PhD) is a scientist and entrepreneur who combines her background in physics, biology, and health with her passions for food, movement, and the sensory experiences therein. Growing up in Winnipeg, her childhood encouraged her career as a scientist and her love of food. She had a natural curiosity and an exploratory nature and was exposed early to culturally diverse cuisines found in Winnipeg’s vibrant food scene.

Catch her talk Dinner with Grief and Empathy onstage at TEDxWinnipeg 2019 on June 26th!

Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future?

I’m assuming my general geographic coordinates stay fixed, and things like basic necessities and money (if we even have money in the future) are similar to what I have now. Would I be born at that initial timepoint and then grow up during that time, or will I just show up at the age I am now?

That kind of changes things too, especially considering medical advances modifying life expectancy, and my tech-savviness in general. I guess all things considered, I would have to say the future. I hear a lot of predictions and compelling ideas on how our exponential transformation in technology will play out in the next few generations as we decide what we will optimize around, but we don’t really know what the trade-offs will be from our vantage point.

I like to believe we can still track forward. It could be awesome or disastrous, or maybe even not that different, but I am curious to find out. I also want to see if Ray Kurzweil is there!

How did you come up with your idea, and how did you develop it into something shareable?

I spend a lot of time thinking about food. In particular, I think a lot about what defines a healthy diet for each of us, how we eat, and why we eat. My background in physics has influenced me to think about things very much at a systems-level, as well as dynamically. In this case, I consider the biological components in these processes, but also social, psychological and environmental factors that drive our ingestive behaviour. Nutrition is a moving target, and there are particular times in our lives where this arrangement breaks and we need to recalibrate our personal food systems. One such time is when we experience grief from a painful loss, which I recently experienced myself. Developing my idea into something shareable came naturally since grief is a universal experience, and we all need to eat.

When and where were you happiest?

I had several times and places pop into my head to answer this question, and although the details of each are different, they all involve moments when I was self-aware and connected with my senses, experiencing joy in the process, and was grateful.  Like Epicurus said, “Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance”.

What’s on your playlist at the moment?

I have several playlists on the go at any time to suit my mood and whatever I’m doing. Sometimes I let Spotify choose for me (I love discovering new music!) and sometimes I will listen to, so no music at all. But, to fairly answer this question, the last four artists that I listened to as I answer at this moment are: Fatboy Slim, Janet Jackson, Barbara Tucker and Shannon Butcher.

What’s the best thing you’ve read in the past year?

The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After, by Julie Yip-Williams.

The last time you wanted to give up on something, what made you keep going?

I think it helps to be very clear on your why from the outset. Go back to that why when you are questioning everything. Leverage failure to build emotional and mental resilience. Critically think about why things are going wrong and be informed and discerning enough to know when to walk away. And trying to rely on motivation alone is a losing proposition— there will definitely be difficult challenges in any great undertaking, and sometimes you just have to remind yourself of your why, define the systems and strategies you need to execute, and put in the hard work even when you don’t want to, to get to the other side.

What TED Talk do you think everyone should see?

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