Major: Genetics & Computer Science
Graduation Year: 2005
How did you decide on your major?
Growing up, I was curious about biological topics ranging from the diversity of organisms in the natural world to why so many people in my South Asian community developed adult diabetes.In high school,I had a fantastic biology teacher and excellent instructors at a Genetics summer course, all of whom sparked my interest in studying Genetics
What did you like most about it?
I enjoyed learning about fundamental processes in classes including Molecular Biology and Organic Chemistry. When I then took advanced classes like Human Genetics, I was able to understand the material at a deeper level.
What is your current position, what do you, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I am currently a Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University. I study population genetics and statistical genetics of human complex traits. Most recently, I have focused on human disease, particularly in diverse and admixed populations. I love doing basic research on a topic that I am fascinated by that also has the potential to improve human health.
What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?
My first post-graduate job was as a Research Assistant in a Computer Science lab at Rutgers University.While completing my second major, Computer Science, I did some research (unpaid)in the lab of my Operating Systems class instructor. After I graduated, I interviewed for jobs in finance,and though I had some offers, I missed doing research. My Operating Systems Professor recommended me for a paid position in a related lab, and I took it.
How did you move from that first job to your current position?
After my first research position, I realized that I wanted to work on problems in Genetics. I next worked in a Computational Biology lab as a Research Assistant while completing a Master’s degree in Computer Science. I then completed a Ph.D. in Genetics and went on to be a Postdoctoral Scholar. I kept doing research that I found interesting and getting the training I needed to achieve my goal of studying human traits.
Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?
Taking Human Genetics class, taught by Dr. Matise and Dr. Haviland,was important to my development as a scientist. We learned about the state of the field by reading the primary literature. For our class project, the instructors helped me to choose a question that I was interested in and that I could make progress on, which is an essential skill for any scientist to have. I also loved the camaraderie of the Genetics students
What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?
Find something you enjoy and can see yourself doing every day. Also, the path to your goal might not be a straight line.