Dr. Deepak Bhandari, “Science moves forward not only with lab experiments but also with all the conversations around it”
Dr. Deepak Bhandari, on the benefits and challenges of working as a postdoc at MSU. He emphasizes: “As an immigrant, and a person of color, I am acutely aware of the challenges that someone of my identity faces in securing an independent scientist position.” He offers some critical advice including –“grab a coffee with a colleague!”
Interview by Jenna Lee, PhD
Jenna– Tell me about yourself! Your background and what you have done up until now.
Deepak- I was born in India and did my Bachelors and Masters in Biotechnology in Chennai, India. I then moved to Germany for my PhD in Genetics at the Max-Planck Institute of Plant breeding research. I moved to USA for my PostDoc training with Prof. Federica Brandizzi at the Plant Research Laboratory, MSU trying to understand how plant intracellular trafficking and cell wall is affected during infection by pathogens.
What was the reason to choose MSU to do your postdoc?
Both my mentors, Prof Jane Parker and Prof. Kenichi Tsuda encouraged me to do a Post-Doc in USA. MSU has one of the best plant research facilities in USA, the PRL has been at the forefront of many discoveries in plant science and I have been inspired by the work of many scientists from MSU
What was your biggest surprise about being a postdoc at MSU?
I have always been, and still am, surprised by the sheer size of the MSU campus. This comes with a downside of not having enough inter-disciplinary interactions with the amazing scientists at MSU.
Have your career plans changed since becoming a post-doc?
No, before joining MSU I wanted to pursue a career in academic research and after my stint at MSU that notion has strengthened. As an immigrant, and a person of color, I am acutely aware of the challenges that someone of my identity faces in securing an independent scientist position. I am fortunate to have an amazing mentor in Prof. Brandizzi who is equally invested in my career goal.
What is your advice on how MSU postdocs can get the most out of their experience here?
Postdoc phase can be very myopic and focused on getting to the next step. In my experience, science moves forward not only with Lab experiments but also with all the conversations around it. The pandemic has already wiped out chance conversations, so my simple advice would be to grab a coffee with a colleague.
To wrap it up, and to know more about you, tell me what comes to mind first in this rapid round of questions!
Favorite food or recipe Any Indian dish would do it for me, but my comfort food is Rasam and rice.
Favorite way to spend a day off: Watch a game of cricket
Job you would do if it wasn’t research? I would have been an entrepreneur
Who inspired you to pursue a PhD and postdoc? I joined PhD as it was the next obvious step after a Masters. But I would completely credit Prof Jane Parker for ensuring that I survived and passed the rigors of a PhD.
You can learn more and connect with Deepak on LinkedIN!
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