“Think About Where You’d Like to Be in 5 Years – CU Anschutz Can Help”
Indian Researcher Shares Passion For ScienceJan 17, 2022
As a scientist with a broad interest in the fields of RNA biology, translation regulation, RNA aptamers and synthetic biology, postdoctoral researcher Ankita Arora has found the perfect professional home at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus. With six professional schools offering more than 40 degrees, dozens of research laboratories, two of America’s top hospitals, and $650+ million awarded in research grants annually, CU Anschutz provides a breadth and depth of diverse opportunities.
Arora is exploring these opportunities to build a career that combines research, writing, advocacy, and community outreach.
"When not running experiments in the lab, I put on my writers' hat on to advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math),” explained Arora.“ Her aim is to decrease disparity and increase diversity in the STEM fields, and she has taught and mentored young students from underserved backgrounds in both the United States and India,” explained Arora. “ Her aim is to decrease disparity and increase diversity in the STEM fields, and she has taught and mentored young students from underserved backgrounds in both the United States and India.
“I’m interested in exploring the intersection of health care and policy to better understand how each can complement the other for the greater good.”
In the Taliaferro lab, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Arora joins with colleagues in studying how the expression of genetic information is spatially regulated within a cell. Researchers in the lab use experimental and computational methods to better understand mechanisms behind the RNA sequences and protein factors that regulate transport in brain cell lines, and how disruption of processes can result in neurological disease.
Her interest in science began at an early age, with two major influences. One of her cousins has cerebral palsy, resulting from a brain disorder caused by a lack of oxygen during the child’s birth. “I wanted to go into research and learn more about the root causes of conditions and health problems,” explained Arora.
The second pivotal event happened during 9th grade on a visit to a book show. She discovered an introductory book about biotechnology and gene technology. Written for school children, it described the ways that research and development in these fields could support solutions throughout health care.
Arora immersed herself in learning “how things work at the deepest molecular level,” in particular, RNA molecules. As she describes them to young students, “DNA is the blueprint, RNA acts as a reader of the blueprint to make proteins, and proteins are the factory that enables the function of the cell.”
Earning a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science at Delhi University, she continued into advanced studies, earning a master’s in biotechnology from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, and a doctoral degree from Ruprecht-Karls-Universitat Heidelberg in Germany. She speaks English, Hindi, and German.
When applying for a postdoc position in the United States, Arora heard that CU Anschutz had received a grant to expand the RNA Bioscience Initiative. She was excited about the opportunity to become involved in a visionary, innovative program.
Along with options for professional development, she has found a welcoming environment at CU Anschutz.
“My colleagues have been friendly and supportive; they helped me find information, lab mates, and even housing. The Post-Doctoral Association at CU Anschutz is a great resource.”
Arora has also found help in the Office of International Affairs (OIA). “Especially during these challenging times with the pandemic and travel restrictions, the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office keeps everyone informed. They explain interpretations of government policies and the next steps that are necessary to ensure that we’re following the correct immigration rules and guidelines.”
“The goal of ISSS is to ensure that international scholars like Arora, who have so much to offer the campus community and to contribute to their chosen field of research, are able to effectively navigate the U.S. immigration systems to reach their own professional dreams and aspirations,” said Michelle Larson-Krieg, Director, International Student and Scholar Services.
Additionally, OIA facilitates social, cultural, and recreational opportunities for international scholars as well as students. “OIA’s What’s App group for international scholars gives us a virtual space to discuss living and working in the U.S., ask questions, and enjoy time together.”
For recreation, Arora joins friends and associates on hikes in the nearby scenic Rocky Mountains. “I love being outdoors in this beautiful environment; you can see all four seasons change here in Colorado.” Arora’s parents had visited Denver a few years ago, and they wholeheartedly agree.
For international students who are considering advanced studies in the U.S., Arora advises, “The first thing is to get in touch with the Graduate School at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, and with OIA. They can help you immensely, and connect you with people in your field of study.”
She also recommends maintaining a focus on your future. “The other thing is, when you’re in graduate school, think about where you’d like to be in five years. Use the CU Anschutz campus not only to learn, but also to help you with definitive steps toward your career.
“If there is something that you want to do or learn, you can definitely reach out and find someone to help.”
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