Raksha Parthasarathy: My first memory of science was the Science Express, a science museum on wheels
When Raksha Parthasarathy was in the 6th grade, her science teacher took her entire class to see the “Science Express,” a 16 coach train sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. Each of the coaches has models, audio-visual displays and hands-on experiments which showcase different topics such as the Big Bang, the cosmos system, DNA, and most recently climate change.
Parthasarathy explained that the Science Express travels across India and stayed in her city for five days.
“It’s basically a science museum on wheels, each compartments is dedicated to a topic like the human body or lenses,” she said. “It was all fascinating to me as a child because we could do our own experiments in the last part of the tour.”
This memory stuck with her and when she was older, she decided to attend M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology in Bangalore, India where she earned her engineering degree in Biotechnology. As part of the summer research fellowship by the Indian Academy of Sciences, she worked on a research project involving Mycobacterium tuberculosis at the Indian Institute of Science. The following year, she worked in a cancer lab as part of the same program in Chennai, India.
“I fell in love with immunology because you are dealing with a disease. It’s interesting how a disease can overpower your body and take over. It is also fascinating how diseases manifest in different people” she said. “But the human body is good at what it does, no two people are the same. Imagine two people exposed to the same disease but each of them will react differently to it. One may develop the disease while the other may not. That is captivating.”
Currently, she is a student in the Molecular Immunology & Microbiology discipline in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program. She is working in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Leadbetter where she is working on a project about memory B cells and cell death pathways in B cells and iNKT cells.
“Generation of memory B cells are the key function of a vaccine, but we do not know what cellular signals drive a naïve B cell to form a memory B cell. I hope that our research helps figure out a part of that puzzle. Another project that I am working on deals with how cellular death pathways influence the immune system with specialized focus on B cells and iNKT cells.”
In the future, Parthasarathy would like to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship in the field of immunology.
“Being a scientist is something that I’ve always wanted and science is going to help me discover and rediscover things every day.”
Science express video
This article was written by Charlotte Anthony, marketing specialist at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health San Antonio. This article is part of the “Meet The Researcher” series which showcases researchers at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.