Bakul Gupta

What is your current position, and what do you do?
I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Imperial College London. I’m working on a few projects here, broadly falling under the category of using nanomaterials in translational medicine.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far
I received my B.Sc. in Nanotechnology (with first class honours) and a Diploma in Innovation Management from UNSW Australia in 2010. For my Ph.D., I joined Prof. Justin Gooding’s lab in Chemistry at UNSW where I explored the potential of using porous silicon microparticles as devices to detect an eye inflammatory disease, uveitis.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?
Stepping out of my comfort zone, that is, leaving UNSW and Sydney after 11 years to relocate and establish myself in a completely new environment.

What achievement are you most proud of?
During my Ph.D., I had to conduct some in vivo experiments, and coming from a Chemistry department, no one in the school had ever taken the sole responsibility of doing experimental work involving animals. With immense help and support from Justin and Peter (my co-supervisor), I not only managed to get our ethics approved in one go, but also complete the preliminary animal work required for my Ph.D. thesis.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?
Besides having confidence in yourself and the ability to think critically and creatively, I believe, for one to be a successful scientist, one needs to have patience, perseverance and a pervicacious, yet versatile, personality.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?
My current research work involves the use of knowledge from an amalgam of chemistry, cell biology and optics, all of which were integral parts of my work during my Ph.D., and have helped me bring versatility to my problem-solving skills, and the way I design experiments.

What are your interests outside of work?
If I weren’t a scientist, I would be a dancer. I am a trained classical dancer and have been dancing from the age of 4! It’s something, I’m very passionate about. Besides dancing, I love doing landscape and street photography along with going for long hikes and learning new languages.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?
Having interests and hobbies outside of science.

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?
As a scientific researcher, always be driven by the unanswered questions in science and our society!

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