It has been my lifelong dream to become a professor in the field of Biology. Being a faculty member provides a great opportunity to teach and interact with students. Students by nature are highly inquisitive and motivated, and as teachers, we have the responsibility to guide our students to explore and think in new ways. I believe that teaching is a two-way interaction between teachers and students. I come from India and my parents, both of whom were teachers, taught me to strive for excellence in my scholarly pursuits. Science bears no geographical barriers and my academic training has taken me across three different continents (Asia, Europe and America). This experience has helped me to understand and appreciate the academic curricula of these continents.
My current research at WPI is highly inter-disciplinary and encompasses areas such as neurobiology, molecular genetics and chemical biology. I will be teaching courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. My philosophy for the courses I will teach at WPI will be to emphasize the importance of hypothesis-driven research and the need to carefully design biological experiments to test them. I feel this approach will allow students to develop their curiosity for a scientific problem and strongly encourage critical and independent thinking. It also represents an opportunity for students bring in fresh ideas on topics that are not directly related with their research and curriculum. I have experienced that it is quite easy to excite a young student about a scientific problem but very difficult to maintain their enthusiasm. Therefore, I believe in a ‘hands on’ approach to teaching as being ‘hands on’ allows me to constantly keep track of my students’ progress. It also provides an environment for discussing problems and pitfalls of an experiment/concept. I have applied this approach very productively, as one of my undergraduate students, Omer Durak, has co-authored a paper with me in a peer-reviewed journal BMC Biology (See publication list). Many of the undergraduates that I have mentored have gone on to pursue graduate programs in several universities around the world. These success stories give me the confidence that as a teacher at WPI, I can reach shape the ideas and thoughts of many younger, keen minds.
A goal, which I aspire as an academic researcher and teacher, is to uncover and share the practical implications of my research. I believe that this is absolutely attainable on a daily basis through a conscious dedication to the practice of sound academic research and teaching. I believe that a perfect platform will not only share the practical knowledge with others, but also challenge my students, colleagues and members of the civic community at large to contribute into this endeavor.
Natural History magazine published an article, "The Chemistry of Fear," which featured work by Jagan Srinivasan, associate professor of biology and biotechnology, on how animals utilize signaling in their “fight or flight” response to predators.