Harita (Haridas) Menon, PhD Candidate

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PhD candidate

Why did I choose WPI?
One of the deciding factors was the knowledge of the new Life Sciences and Bioengineering facility that WPI was building. It was clear to me that the new facility would only add to the great research already done at WPI and provide me with better opportunities to grow as a scientist. Proximity to family was another deciding factor.

What makes me proud to be a WPI student?
In addition to the state-of-the-art biotech facility, I cherish the friendly and open faculty-student relationships here at WPI.

What do I think are WPI's greatest strengths?
The coming together of academia and industry with the building of the new research facility is one of the greatest strengths of WPI, according to me. Also, as a graduate student in a predominantly undergraduate institution, I am given the opportunity to mentor the undergrads, especially with their MQPs, helping me become a better teacher.

What research projects I am involved in at WPI?
I work with fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) in Professor Joseph Duffy's lab. We, as a lab, are interested in understanding how cells communicate with each other. This is a very important aspect of proper development, and any dysregulation in the process of cell communication can lead to various abnormalities. My project focuses on elucidating the role of a membrane protein, Kekkon5, using various genetic, molecular, and biochemical techniques.

How have the professors in the Biology and Biotechnology Department impacted my studies and my life?
The enthusiasm and energy my advisor showed while explaining his work to me for the first time convinced me that this was the lab for me. He has been a wonderful mentor. Two years ago, I was stuck in my country due to visa issues, and I really appreciated his prompt help in getting all the paperwork ready for me in order to get through the visa situation.

What do I hope to do when I graduate? What would be my ideal job?
I hope to get a job in the biotech industry after I graduate to get a feel for the industry. However, my dream job is to one day go back to my country and teach (share and spread the knowledge that I have gained here).

Groups or extracurricular activities I participate in at WPI:

  • Activities at the International House and those organized by the Indian Students Organization.
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