This past summer I visited Mumbai, India where I interned at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR.) This institute is a deemed research facility and specializes in research in the fields of the basic sciences and mathematics. The institute also offers great PhD programs. I was fortunate enough to work under the guidance of Dr. Maitreyi Narasimha in her cellular biology laboratory. As a summer research student I helped with her study on cellular behaviors and cellular reorganization during morphogenesis, using Drosophila melanogaster or fruit flies as a model organism. I helped set up crosses to breed progeny with specific manipulated genes. Furthermore I was able to set up my own cross with a mutated gene of my choice to be examined. The experience was amazing and I really enjoyed my time in the laboratory.
I was accompanied by two other summer research students and the three of us carried out several experiments together that involved setting up crosses, collecting embyros and staining and visualizing embryos. Dr. Narasimha was a great person to work under and her whole laboratory staff made me feel at home. The other researchers in the laboratory frequently helped the summer students out and helped us initially by showing us the procedures. It was interesting to note that my experience at Brandeis and in the biology laboratory at Brandeis helped me immensely! I was able to better navigate around the laboratory than the other summer students and as I had worked with flies before I knew how to set up crosses swiftly and efficiently. It felt great learning about the way college students learned in India, and there were many days spent just talking about the difference in our educations. Although students studying in India knew a whole lot about the field and the research behind the experiments being carried out, I was better adapted to working in the laboratory in a more practical way. I enjoyed learning from the other students and I hope that they felt the same when I helped them carry out the experiments in the laboratory.
Dr. Narasimha encouraged us to present our findings and work every week in front of the entire laboratory and she gave us many useful hints how to go about the various experiments. She made sure that we grasped what was going on at all times and took a real interest in helping us understand our basic knowledge of her line of work. One of the best moments for me was when she allowed me to see the confocal microscope in the laboratory. Undergraduate students were not allowed to use the microscope but Dr. Narashimha still gave the summer students a very interesting demonstration of the microscope. I do believe that my two months in Mumbai were a huge success!
I learned a lot during my time at TIFR and in turn I did manage to stem some curiosity about Brandeis and the research that goes on in the university. It was humbling to have my colleagues in the laboratory forming only good impressions of Brandeis and I know that I will keep in touch with everyone in the laboratory. At Brandeis, I hope to use my new found laboratory skills to further use and further evaluate the differences in research facilities and research in the United States and in India.