Neuroscientist & Founder of Fuzzy Synapse Dr.Vinita Bharat
Dr. Vinita Bharat is a neuroscientist by training and currently a postdoctoral research fellow at European Neuroscience Institute (ENI), Goettingen – Germany. Vinita apart from being a scientist also manages to shine through “Fuzzy Synapse” – idea to connect science to the world as a founder. Dr. Vinita also plays crucial role as Science illustrator and writer at Club SciWri (Career Support Group (PhD CSG) for STEM PhDs (A US Non-Profit 501 © 3 organisation).
About Dr.Vinita Bharat in her own words
I am a neuroscientist by training, understanding how “we” function has always attracted me. I finished my PhD from University of Goettingen, Germany and had been an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) student here. I study learning and memory attributes of mammalian brain at cellular and molecular level. I believe in having work life balance. Traveling is what am passionate about; as it opens for me a totally new world for knowing different culture, meeting new people and challenges me to make my niche in totally unknown place.
To present science in fun and easier way by using my sketching pencils and comic timings, I have started a platform called “Fuzzy Synapse”. I work for science outreach and communication in addition to “being a scientist”.
Research Interests of Dr.Vinita Bharat
My research interests lie in studying cellular and molecular neuroscience. During my PhD, I have worked on understanding long range transport, capture and fusion of dense core vesicles in mammalian hippocampal neurons. I want to harness the basic insights of neuronal cell biology and use it to study the mechanisms of neurological disorders. In future, I planned to use and extend my expertise and knowledge to work with patient derived neurons.
Interview session of Dr. Vinita Bharat with Biostandups Team
BS: Who has inspired you in your life how and why?
VB: There have been many people who have inspired me in my life. Starting from my own family to my teachers, mentors, friends and colleagues, every one of them have taught me one thing or another. So, to name a single person is not possible.
BS: What excites you the most about your scientific research?
VB: Just the essence of working to understand what is going on in my and others brain, excites me every day. Each and every single day in research is new for me. One tries to ask questions and then the drive to find those answers through experiments and with scientific proves is what excites me the most in research.
BS: Do you recall what started your enthusiasm for science?
VB: I remember from my childhood, I was taught to ask questions, be at home or at school. And then during my schooling, science lessons were something which I found very interesting as these lessons used to give answers to many of these questions. Hence, probably the enthusiasm started from there itself I guess!
BS: What is your proudest moment as a scientist or researcher?
VB: I think it still has to come!
BS: If you had to choose one thing, what do you think you’re the best in the world at?
VB: To bring smiles to the faces.
BS: Tell me something you have done that goes against all social conventions, yet you did it anyway because it was the right thing to do!
VB: Actually, I haven’t done anything like that so far. I have always been someone who likes to discuss things with others if there are any differences in opinions regarding any matter. And so far, it has always been with full support of my near and dear ones. So, I haven’t done anything like that.
BS: How do you manage your research and social life?
VB: I place equal importance to my work and life. I really enjoy my work and then because I have always been surrounded by amazing friends, spending fun time with them is what I also look forward too. So, I guess that’s why it has been so far managed. 🙂
BS: Tell us your roles as organiser with various communities in Germany?
VB: It’s been now seven years in Germany, I have served as “General Secretary” for the Indian Association in Goettingen for one year where my major role was to connect new comers to the existing community and to make them feel comfortable here. Also, I was involved in organising functions on Independence Day, Diwali etc. so that people can enjoy these days even though staying far from the homeland.
I have also served as the one of the organizers of “Neurizons” which is the biennial neuroscience symposium conducted by International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) neuroscience students here in Goettingen. The major role in there was to invite some of the eminent scientists of the world for this conference and to make sure this event be useful and inspiring for others.
BS: How did your relation with Club Sciwri started and how was your experience so far?
VB: Club SciWri is an amazing platform and working with them as science illustrator has been absolutely fun. I got in touch with this platform through one of my friend and since then loved being part of their team. Everyone there has been really helpful and encouraging of my work.
BS: What is “Fuzzy Synapse and how did you end up with it?
VB: “Fuzzy Synapse” is a platform for connecting science with the world. My aim behind this was to make science fun through my sketching pencils and comic timings. Be it any field of science, technology and innovation, this platform is designed to present science in simple and fun way to the world. According to me, science is a subject which is not just constrained to textbooks. It is everywhere around us, we just need to see, ask and understand it.
I used to draw and make animated videos for science education stories in my free time to deliver talks in schools. And then, the idea of opening one online platform came while talking to some of my friends. They encouraged me to put my ideas and illustrations out there online so that people can relate and connect with the thought.
BS: Who is your role model when it comes to Science illustration?
VB: Truly speaking I haven’t yet followed any. I used to applaud and smile seeing PhD Comics releases, Sketching science, ASAP science, Ipsawonders etc. But as a role model I am learning while making. I would love to learn more from the people in field of science illustrations. As my journey has just started.
BS: Do you have any future plans for “Fuzzy Synapse”?
VB: I want “Fuzzy Synapse” to be that platform for all those who share this common idea of connecting science and world. Be it any art, I want to make this as a common platform for all the science lovers out there with an idea of science communication and outreach.
BS: How would you like people to remember you?
VB: hahaha..:D I would like people to remember me “As that girl who refuses to grow up!”
BS: Do you think gender parity is lacking in India? if yes can you reason it out?
VB: Yes, gender parity is lacking in India. I think it’s because of the narrow, confined and stereotyped mind-sets of some people (not some actually a lot!) that it exists. There is still a large section of people who thinks and entertains the thought that women are not at par with men in many domains. The segregation of job roles in gender being that from household activities to going to space is what actually make the gap wider.
BS: What are a few troubles you’ve needed to confront and/or right now face being a woman in Research?
VB: Actually, I haven’t yet faced as such any trouble being a woman in research. Here conditions are well balanced but I guess now coming from such background and environment, I understand the need and would definitely encourage gender equality in my surroundings.
BS: More girls passing out as graduates and too few women end up at high ranks. Can you reason out?
VB: I think the major reason behind this is the sole responsibility of taking care of families which are given to women. This brings me again to the point I mentioned above of segregation of roles. I think the day when this classification of work stops and the work type is not designated to the gender, there will be a time when this question would have no relevance.
BS: What’s the biggest thing you struggle at this position?
VB: The biggest thing that I “struggle” at this position is to say goodbye to friends and family around. As being in science involves mobility every few years which means making your own niche in new environment with every change. Though I should say this change brings many newer people in my circle. J
BS: What popular general advice do you disagree with?
VB: I don’t agree to the advice which are given by someone who him/herself has never experienced/lived in that situation. So, in my opinion take advice from those who have experience in that particular field.
BS: How can we, as a community, do a better job of sharing the stories of women in science?
VB: I think you guys can encourage more women to showcase their work in science using your platform. There are actually many out there doing great work…they just need more support and encouragement. I liked your endeavour of finding, interviewing and putting the stories of upcoming women in science, I guess if the progress of each person can also be shown timely, that would help your audience to get some motivation from them. Also, more online presence is what I would suggest to your platform.
BS: Last question, what is your opinion on our start-up project Biostandups.com?
VB: I came across your platform actually through your “face of the month” section recently. I liked your initiative and would wish you all the success and growth in future endeavours.