I still remember the first time I got curious about a little Murphy radio that we had in our home. I was around 8 or 9 years old at that time. When my mother took her afternoon nap, I borrowed the screw driver from my father’s toolkit and took that little radio apart. I was not only happy to take a peek into the wonderful world of electronics inside that radio but was so proud that it was still working when I put it back together.
My curiosity about the world around me was further stoked by getting hands-on in our little backyard garden where I truly relished in the pleasures of getting my hands dirty and watching the garden take life. That was a great gift my father gave me – his time spent with me playing in the garden – planting the seeds, tending to the plants, watching them grow to produce flowers and vegetables. I successfully went on to secretly carrying out dissection in cockroaches to look at their circulatory system and grafting plants, as reading about them in the classroom was not at all enough for me during my school years. I had to do it by myself to really understand how things worked. That’s the allure and magic of science and it took me through college and I ended up getting a bachelor's in Biochemistry and a master's in Biotechnology.
Sitting through history classes during school, I admired those famed travelers of the past who got to enjoy the cultures of the world and left a treasure trove of information for the future generations. I adored their resolve and curiosity (and was kind of jealous) to undertake long journeys under arduous conditions - just because of their quest for knowledge. When the time came to chase my dream of traveling abroad to chase knowledge, I had to face my fair share of brick walls and set backs as I come from a middle class family in India and going abroad was mostly reserved for the rich and wealthy. Eventually with the help of a scholarship, I packed my bags and hopped onto Europe and went on to gather my doctorate degree from Germany. I not only enjoyed doing great science and research but also different cultures and the richness of the vast diversity of humanity as the Institute had a huge diversity of graduate students from all over the world. And as an added bonus, sitting in the middle of Europe in Germany I got to travel to neighboring countries (Austria, Italy France and Spain). After my doctorate degree, I once more hopped continents to do postdoctoral research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY and another one at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY.
The wonderment and curiosity I experienced through and about science during my younger formative years kept my dreams alive during the tough times. The world of science and research has not only let me experience and be in the frontiers of cutting edge technology, it has also taught me far more important lessons for my personal life. Failures are part of science, no experiment works on the first try. A scientist can work for weeks and months only to find out that his/her hypothesis is not true. A true scientist looks at his/her failures as learning experiences and continue to move forward. The world of science has taught me resilience and has truly endowed me with a never-give-up attitude.
Apart from scientific research and wondering about the mysteries of human brain, my special interest lies in science outreach/communication in an accessible format and spreading the feeling of awe and wonder of science beyond the University and academic laboratories, especially to children and youth. I am also the founder and co-director of BioPalette, a non-profit maker space for biology in the Capital Region of NY. I currently live in upstate NY with with my two kids.
Now that you have an idea about me, I hope that you are excited about hearing from me, join me in celebrating and explore the fun world of science with me.