As a first year PhD student, I was a bit concerned about how my research was taking shape, and hence majority of my time would be spent inside the lab. But after I progressed into the second year and had a clear cut idea as to how my project would be in the next two years, I realized I can do a lot better time management. So, I started utilizing my ‘extra’ time into doing something other than research. I have always loved teaching, and hence I applied for tutoring at the university. Along with that, came this opportunity to become a Young Science Ambassador of Queensland.Read More
Kaustav Das Gupta
PhD Candidate -
The University of Queensland
What got you into science?
Well, there’s no definitive answer as to why I got into science. But like everyone else’s experience, mine also started when I was a kid. I had this ‘nasty’ habit of breaking my toys and looking into the parts of it, and then trying to reconnect them back to function, most of which wouldn’t work. Nevertheless, the inquisitiveness drew me to the age favourite ‘Lego’ blocks, using which I would give vent to my imaginations, ranging from alien space ships to complex machines. As I got introduced to ‘science’ in school, I was pretty confused as to what appealed to me more. From architecture to astronomy, I studied and fantasized about almost everything, but as I started building on my ‘senses’, I got drawn into the more complex science of biology. So, in a nutshell, as I said, there’s no definitive answer as to what got me into science. It was a combination of all the toys, the sci-fi movies and animations, coupled with the knowledge imparted in school that drew my attention into science.
What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing science?
I’m not too good in giving advices, but I would just ask the mind to stay open to possibilities and be a bit more vigilant. At the same time, the mind also needs to stay patient, as science is an unpredictable journey of highs and low, so it’s an absolute necessity to have confidence and be composed even at the lowest of times
What does your research involve?
I’m a cell biologist, rather an immunologist to be precise. My research deals with understanding how the immune system responds to any sort of external or internal challenges, at the molecular level. The bigger picture is obviously to develop drugs to combat inflammation and making our immune system stronger, but I feel any small contribution we make in the field, will take us one step forward to our ultimate goal. In that context, my study involves the effect of a particular protein as to how it potentiates the levels of inflammatory bowel disease, understanding its biology entirely, as it also is an important protein for normal physiological functions of the cell in general, thus with the final aim to design a drug, which will affect one particular function of the protein, leaving other’s unaffecte
How does your research apply to day to day life?
As mentioned earlier, my firm belief is that, any contribution I make in the field, will take the entire science community one step ahead into understanding the complex biology of human body and diseases. At the current stage my research might not apply directly to the day to day life, but definitely, it addresses the complex understanding of inflammatory bowel disease.
What is the most challenging thing about your work?
I believe, if you love your work, nothing appears to be a challenge or a bottleneck, and I for a change, love my work. Obviously, there are complex experiments, which swing by once a while, but that is just momentarily. More than the results of my experiments, I love troubleshooting problems that arise in the initial days of setting up a procedure, as this just reminds me of my childhood ‘Lego’ days, when I would have limited number of blocks to make my extravagant creations. Every experiment that I do is a challenge in some way or the other, and as they come I deal with them.
Who is your favourite scientist and why?
My favourite scientist has to be my supervisor, Matt Sweet. My supervisor might not be a Nobel laureate, or famous, or even doing really ‘cool’ stuffs like going to the space, or running the Large Hedron Collider or discovering a cure for Cancer/HIV, but he definitely inspires me with his passion for the work he’s doing. He respects my inquisitiveness and teaches me why my suggestions might not be feasible. Most importantly, he smiles at me and keeps the lab environment, friendly and joyable.
What breakthroughs do you predict in the next 10 years?
Research is an ever expanding arena. In the next 10 years, I predict that we will slide a few blocks closer to understanding the biology of complex diseases, if not identify absolute cure for them. With everyone trying to go green, I presume, the environment will be on its trend to revert back to a healthier one, and the American and Russian Space Programs would probably discover more habitable galaxies, some of which might be closer to ours.