Mecca of multiculturalism

Studying biomedical sciences at UAB has been an inspirational journey

December 07, 2014 06:54 pm | Updated 06:54 pm IST

Divya

Divya

My first genetics class, back in high school, got me fascinated about biological sciences. I wondered how these tiny molecules called DNA could hold the information for all our physical characteristics. This curiosity made me choose biotechnology as a major for my undergraduate studies. When I completed my B.Tech., I decided to go abroad for higher studies. Being known as the land of opportunities and hub of the most advanced medical research, the U.S. was my obvious choice. While the process of adaptation to a new culture was challenging initially, the incredibly friendly and helpful people here made for an easy transition. I completed my M.S. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in 2012 from the East Carolina University, North Carolina, where I received an out-of-state tuition waiver and a teaching assistantship. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences with full scholarship at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB).

Recreational facilities

The city of Birmingham, referred to as the “cradle of the American Civil Rights Movement”, has plenty to offer from a world-class culinary scene to a nationally acclaimed motorsports park. Founded in 1859 as a medical school, UAB campus is now spread across hundreds of acres with multiple libraries, hospitals, clinics, a nursing school and several academic and research centres. UAB is truly the “mecca of multiculturalism”, and this aspect has helped me tremendously in developing new perspectives. The 150,000-square-foot recreation centre, located centrally on the campus, covers three floors with gym, volleyball/basketball courts and aquatic centre and provides free aerobics and yoga classes.

Study scenario

The academic system at UAB is geared towards learning by practice where understanding and applying the concepts takes precedence over just memorising them. There is a lot of freedom in choosing the subjects you want to learn and the options are aplenty. Most of the courses are taught by professors who are world-class researchers and experts in the field. Their passion towards science and childlike enthusiasm is something I draw inspiration from every single day. With over 350 faculty and $500 million research funding, researchers at UAB pursue cutting-edge research in diverse areas. The research environment is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary where sharing lab resources and knowledge are encouraged.

As a Ph.D. student, I chose a lab and a research topic I was most interested in. The answers I find to some of the important and pertinent questions will further our understanding and ultimately help solve challenges in the fields of biology and medicine. Outside of schoolwork and research, I am actively involved with student organisations on campus. I also served as the President of the Association of Indian Students at UAB. I have made some great friends here, some of whom I consider my family. These four years of living abroad have allowed me to grow personally, professionally and intellectually. I am all geared up for more adventures that lie ahead.

The writer is a third-year Ph.D. student at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

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