Translational Bioinformatics would equip me to deal with global concerns of alarming magnitude regarding microbes in a fast and effective manner. – Soumya Basu

Soumya Basu
Researcher, Microbiology & Translational Bioinformatics
Medical & Biological Computing laboratory, School of Bio-sciences & Technology
VIT University, Vellore Campus, Tamil Nadu, India

Q1. Please take us through your career journey?

I did my formal schooling under West Bengal State board at Kolkata. I grew up in a middle-class Bengali joint-family. My parents, especially my mother, who is a house-wife, took care of my studies through the major-part of my school days in the most caringly-strict way possible. I do recall my summer vacations writing 500 spellings+100 sums a day to achieve a special dinner!! I was taught to be fluent in English, Bengali and Hindi with equal emphasis. Being a science oriented student, I was encouraged by my teachers to participate in various creative and interactive platforms. After my higher secondary schooling in Science, I completed my B.Sc. Microbiology under University of Calcutta. Thereafter, through a nation-wide entrance, I got the opportunity to study M.Sc. in Biotechnology with DBT, GoI scholarship from Utkal University, Bhuvaneswar. During masters I got a thorough exposure to modern-bio-sciences research. I also got the opportunity of scientific interaction with eminent professors, scholars and researchers having precious national as well as international experience. I got valuable guidance for research during masters and managed to publish in a reputed molecular-science journal. I did a brief internship at NISER, Bhubaneswar and Industrial R & D training in Vaccine development from Panacea Biotec, New Delhi. I left industry and joined as an academic researcher in applied microbiology at Forest Research Institute, Dehradun. I was fortunate to perform well in national entrances besides achieving various scholarships. Joining as a research and teaching professional in VIT and participating in a collaborative research with CMC, Vellore has truly unveiled a new plethora for exploration! For the past 5 years, I have been working as an active researcher, exploring different areas of microbiology and applied bio-sciences. I have also been continuously aligned to academically-creative activities, junior student mentoring and scientific communications in various platforms. My journey through the ups and downs has only but motivated me further to delve into answering the fundamentals of life through research.

Q2. What did attract you towards Microbiology and Translational Bioinformatics?

I have always aspired to be a scientist and was fortunate to be in the proximity of eminent educators from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata who introduced me to the fascinating world of microbes towards the final years of my schooling. I have explored microbiology from academic, industrial as well as research perspectives. Microbes are omnipresent, fast-evolving and dynamic creatures. Translational bioinformatics would equip me to deal with global concerns of alarming magnitude regarding microbes in a fast and effective manner. It is needles to mention that the research guidance and ambiance of VIT and CMC, Vellore not only groomed me as a dry lab researcher but motivated me to devote myself in this field of research even during the pandemic crisis.

Q3. You served as a Researcher at Forest Research Institute, Dehradun. How was your experience?

They call it the “Mecca-Medina of Forestry”. Dehradun is a nice place to stay. FRI’s huge campus and picturesque has its own charm. I was introduced to a new genre of science called Forestry and met naturalists from whom I have learnt a lot beyond my specific areas of interest. I would recommend plant-science students to visit FRI and explore. I have spent more than 3 years there; it made me grow as a scientific professional and a communicator.

Q4. How do you motivate yourself at every morning?

I guess it’s all about finding a purpose; after that self-motivation runs in an ‘auto-mode’.

Q5. Where do you want to see yourself after 10 years in career?

I have never thought about becoming anything else but a researcher. But yes, down the line I would definitely like to see myself as a scientific administrator as well, working relentlessly on dissemination of scientific education in remote corners of the country.

Soumya Basu

Q6. Your Ph.D. is running now. What is your area of research for Ph.D.?

I am working on the genomics and systems biology of multi-drug resistant pathogenic microbes. The domain is mostly computational biology and bioinformatics, although I have plans for some sequencing studies as well.

Q7. What do you do in your free time? Do you update yourself in terms of education?

Frankly speaking and I think most of the Ph.D. scholars and research professional would agree, we don’t get much of a ‘free-time’. But yes, I love cooking; it’s a stress-buster for me. I do some art-work if I get some more time. Apart from that, having a light hearted conversation with family works like drug after a hectic week (yes, I stay away from home).

The fascinating thing about working in academics is that one gets a continuous exposure to all kinds of updates; be it education, society, technology or changing human behavior.

Q8. What kind of problems have you faced in your Research and how did you resolve it?

This is important. Practically, the main hurdle of research in India is funding and infrastructure. My Indian middle-class upbringing has always helped me. People often call it “jugaad”, I prefer to call it “economic reconstruction”. There’s not only a Plan B, but there are Plan C, D and E as well. It may sound tedious and frustrating, but once you decide firmly that you need it, you do it.

Q9. Which one skill do you like most about yourself?


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