This month, “Points of VIEW” will feature Dr. Bindu Adhikari, a wildlife veterinarian who works in the Department of Veterinary Preventative Medicine at Ohio State University. Bindu has traveled the world researching and studying wildlife, from brown bears in Norway to tigers in Nepal. It was in Nepal, where Bindu was enrolled as a veterinary student, that she first became acquainted with VIEW. Her passion, intellect, and commitment impressed VIEW co-founders Dr. Deborah McCauley and Dr. Gretchen Kaufman, as did her ability to not only subsist, but to thrive in a male-dominated profession.
What do you do in the field of science?
I work in both basic and translational science focused on understanding immune responses of various infectious diseases. Currently, I am working on SARS-CoV-2 and common cold-associated coronaviruses immune response.
What made you interested in going into that field?
One of the biggest threats to the human is emerging diseases of pandemic potentials. Getting to work on SARS-CoV-2 was exciting. My current field of study can be expanded to both human and animal diseases. Thus, being able to build upon my previous undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine along with the addition of expertise on human infectious diseases, I chose to pursue my current field of study.
What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome?
It was challenging for a first-generation college graduate. Although financial obstacles brought many challenges, social obstacles were a major hindrance. As we all know that a large part of academia both in terms of number and funding is dominated by males, females, people of color and other minorities are most underrepresented. Having to overcome these barriers to be part of academia was challenging. In addition, being away from home puts a great deal of toil on both mental and emotional well-being.
Who are your role models?
There are numerous people who I have been inspired by at different phases of my academic journey. Dr. Grzegorz Mikusinski(Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), Jack Kinross(WildTiger org), Dr. Gretchen Kaufman (Veterinary Initiative for Endangered Wildlife (VIEW), Dr. Deborah McCauley (VIEW), Dr. Johanna Painer(University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna), Dr. Alina Evans (Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences), and Dr. Jon Martin Arnemo(Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences) were the most influential person in shaping my career as a researcher. They introduced me to the field of scientific research, and have since been providing me career guidance and mentorship. My previous research advisors Dr. Dinesh Kumar Singh (Tribhuvan University), Dr. Birendra Mishra (University of Hawaii at Manoa), and my current advisor Dr. Anastasia Vlasova(The Ohio State University) have also been pivotal in my academic success. Apart from them, my mom and my brother have been my greatest role models as they have taught me a valuable life lesson of hard work, determination, and compassion.
Do you have advice for young women interested in pursuing a similar career?
Do not hesitate to reach out to the people that you want to work with. Most of the time, they will be happy to advise you on your career interests. Strive to add new skills to your curriculum vitae (CV). Participate in regional and local programs as this demonstrates your commitment and can help you build networking and get exposure. Persistence and determination will be crucial during the initial phase of career building.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of working in your field?
Getting to learn new things and develop new skills is satisfying. Interacting with new people from diverse backgrounds and sharing each other’s ideas and experiences brings joy to me. In addition, getting recognized, be it small, for your efforts is the most rewarding aspect of working in my field.
How do you see your field changing in the next ten years?
Biomedical science is advancing at a great pace. New discoveries, both in basic and applied science have become more frequent. Most importantly, the next decade in my field will be dominated by integrated science. For example, the use of machine learning and Artificial intelligence to solve some of the molecular mysteries and unknown biological pathways, their complex interactions will dominate future research.