Careers

Hollywood, masala dosa and research

Priyamvada Jayaprakash  

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well”. This quote of Ralph Waldo Emerson pretty much sums up my ambitions and goals in life.

The field of biology has always fascinated me, and I have been driven by the idea of utilising the knowledge gained from science for the betterment of humanity. This motivated me to take up the undergraduate programme in Biotechnology at the Guindy campus of Anna University, Chennai. A distinction at the bachelor’s level enabled me to pursue Ph.D. directly, taking me a step closer to realising my dream. Since the U.S. is a great platform for life science researchers, I evaluated the universities, which were highly ranked for their research education.

The University of Southern California (USC) is among the top in this list and I was fortunate to obtain admission to this amazing school.

Rich ambience

USC is situated in the city of angels, Los Angeles. Established in 1880, the university is at the forefront of cancer research, thanks to the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the Keck School of Medicine, where I am pursuing a reputed interdisciplinary programme — PIBBS.

The learning environment is outstanding, with rich online content supplementing classroom lectures. USC provides an opportunity to learn diverse courses from distinguished professors who are recognised experts in their respective fields. In addition, research students enjoy a freedom of choice, working in “rotation” in three different labs, before choosing one to pursue their Ph.D.

The USC effect

On a personal note, the courses enhanced my scientific thinking, and the diverse lab environments opened up my mind to broader research options. In addition to the school of medicine, the Viterbi School of Engineering and Marshall School of Business at USC are also highly ranked.

Each school within USC has its own library with a great collection of books and journals enabling students to stay updated on the latest findings in their respective fields. And with USC boasting of the maximum intake of international students, my peer group is as diverse and educative as the curriculum itself.

Life in L.A.

I never thought living in a foreign land without family close by would be easy, but L.A. has completely embraced me. With reputed universities of the likes of UCLA, UC-Berkeley and Stanford a few hours drive away, staying in L.A. has been an enriching professional experience. In addition, Los Angeles is that city where you get to see the Hollywood as well as visit the Swaminarayan temple.

The city is extremely well connected and the public transportation is well developed. L.A. is also the city where the diverse choice of cuisines can offer you anything from a croissant to a masala dosa. The traffic, though, can be frustrating, but for Indians, that gives a feeling of being at home too!

The writer is pursuing research at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 4:37:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/careers/hollywood-masala-dosa-and-research/article6555481.ece

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