Pt. I: Student Profile

Student Profile – Gayathri Ramakrishnan
(Huttenlocher lab)

Where are you from? Why Madison and the Cancer Biology program?

I did my undergrad in India and moved to the US for a master’s program at Johns Hopkins. After my masters, I decided to pursue PhD in the cancer biology program, as I was interested in the research of many of the faculty in the program. During the interview, I got to observe first-hand the collaborative and supportive environment in the program. I also really liked Madison as a city and could see myself living here.

What is your favorite place/activity when you need to de-stress?

Whenever I am stressed, I like to go on walks.  I especially enjoy the arboretum and the Lakeshore path.

You were 6 months into the program when the lock-down was put in place. What was your PI and lab’s response?

My PI was supportive and checked in on me frequently, especially since I am international student and being so far from home during this time was difficult. We also had lab meetings and journal clubs more frequently, which kept us motivated.

What is your new norm? How have you been coping with classes and trying to do in-person research?

My new norm has not been too different, except for the fact that we do not have in-person classes and I have been spending more time at home when not actively doing experiments. It has been hard to stay motivated with online classes but finding a class buddy to discuss and share is helpful. It is especially important not to be too hard on oneself.

Any new advice for incoming students, especially under these new circumstances?  

With restrictions on group activities, it can feel isolating to be in a new lab. It is important to find ways to connect with lab members and other students whenever possible.