Time to meet Niveditha Vathsangam (She/her)! Niveditha is an immunologist originally from India working on ways to harness the animal immune system to develop personalized medicine for veterinary use at the University of Melbourne in Australia!
What kind of scientist are you?
I am an Immunologist with a dash of a Molecular Biologist, currently applying my skills to Veterinary sciences. I am working towards developing a novel therapeutic treatment option for a disease known as laminitis, commonly developed in horses and ponies. A lot of my research is centered on understanding how to harness the animal immune system to develop personalized medicine for veterinary use (Dogs, cats, horses, etc.). My ultimate hope is that the knowledge gained through animal studies can help in the design and production of effective human therapeutics as well.
What made you want to become a scientist?
Just pure fascination with biological systems and understanding how such a complex system is able to seamlessly work in harmony to produce a living, breathing entity – a very ethereal realization. I love learning and applying my skills to further understand how these systems work and utilizing that knowledge to improve life.
“Being from a country where the fields of STEM are still trying to find their footing and equal gender representation is a new concept, my knowledge of different options was very limited.”Niveditha Vathsangam
What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
Being from a country (India) where the fields of STEM are still trying to find their footing and equal gender representation is a new concept, my knowledge of different options was very limited. Access to resources and established scientists was not easy at all.
Given that, I’ve had an interesting career progression. I have attempted to pursue a doctorate at an early age (20s) only to fail miserably. It was a dark period riddled with a myriad of mental health issues. I realize, now, that I was not ready for it at the time. I worked my way through those issues and I entered the industry market to polish my laboratory skills. After regaining my confidence in the field, at 29, I reached a point where it was finally time to enhance my critical thinking skills. It made me realize that the right time to pursue something is when you are ready for it, and not when the world decides you are.
What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I am a very sporty person! My true passion is Table tennis but I love to try out different sports and anything adventurous. I also love to travel and explore new cultures. But the one thing that probably sets me apart is my fascination for Historical events. I love to watch documentaries based on life in the past, reading about how different milestones were achieved and even delving into why certain disasters happened. I love to visit museums, memorials and sometimes even cemeteries to read more about people as described by their loved ones.
If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
Other than the usual funding and policy-based issues that most scientists would like to be tackled, I want to be part of a movement that educates the younger generation on possible career pathways in STEM. In the process of education, I would like to debunk the myths that surround the concepts of how to achieve a fulfilling scientific career – It is not all academics!
“It made me realize that the right time to pursue something is when you are ready for it, and not when the world decides you are.”Niveditha Vathsangam
Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
I owe most of my success to my support system- my family – which includes my two dogs, Prince and Tia.
My longest inspiration has been my father. A true epitome of hard work and never giving up. He always had my back and continues to support my endeavors, no matter how crazy they may seem.
I have also garnered some inspiration from my dog, Tia. Seems unorthodox but she taught me how to bounce back from the most difficult of situations- in flamboyant style. Tia was a rescue dog, abandoned in trenches until she was found. She suffered from hip dysplasia, skin problems and many more issues throughout her life and fought through every difficulty to see almost 11 years of life. Truly inspirational!
Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I am almost done with my Ph.D. I am writing up my thesis and I’ve been able to stick to my deadlines to finish writing up.
I’ve also been able to get back into a routine of taking care of my health, physically and mentally after a period of unscheduled events. Meditating every day and hitting the gym, while eating healthy really helps me think efficiently and produce some of my best work.
#WomenInSTEM, #BrownInSTEM, #STEMIndustry