Dr. Roopali Chaudhary
Founder/CEO – Lotus STEMM
Senior Scientist Cell Biology Specialist – Allarta Life Science
Research Associate – Department of Biology, McMaster University
Content Editor, Sci-Illustrate Stories – Sci-Illustrate
Lead Baker and Owner – SugarKube
Education: HBSc Molecular Biology and Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto; MSc Genetics, University of Waterloo; PhD Cell Biology, McMaster University; Post doctoral Fellowship Immunology, McMaster University
Dr. Roopali Chaudhary is the Founder, CEO and Lead Researcher of the non-profit Lotus STEMM, an organization geared towards outreach and increasing the visibility and representation of South Asian women in STEMM (including medicine) fields. She is also a Senior Scientist – Cell Biology Specialist with Allarta Life Science Inc. and a Research Associate with Dr. Juliet Daniel at McMaster University.
Source: Perimeter Institute’s Celebrating Women in Science 2021 Event Description
Opening Remarks: Hello, My name is Maria Neagoie and I am a 9th grade student at Tudor Vianu National High School in Bucharest, Romania. I have just attended Perimeter Institute’s Inspiring Future Women in Science Event and really enjoyed your knowledgeable answers, joyful attitude and kind advice. I am a big Space enthusiast and I have a website at https://vianuprojects.com where I share the NASA, ESA, NSS and United Nations educational projects I do. After the webinar, I feel like I learned a lot and had a fun experience, but unfortunately my questions were not answered, and I hoped you’d be so kind to give your answers to this mini-interview.
Opening Remarks: Hi Maria! Thank you for your insightful questions!! And I’m very happy to hear that you resonated with what we were talking about. Let me attempt to answer your questions.
Q: 1)What drew you to the field of science?
A: 1)I was always interested in science, even as a child. In fact when I was a kid, I made everyone around me call me Dr. Roopali because I was so convinced I would be a physician. 🙂 But as I grew older, my interest in becoming a doctor faded from passion to obsession. But when I went to university, and learnt that puzzles was my passion, and research allowed for puzzle solving, I pursued that instead. It wasn’t easy to unlearn 18+ years of internal dialogue, but the more I got excited when I did an experiment in class and saw results, the more passionate I became about research. I also need change of topics to keep my interest, so I try new things and new subjects even now.
Q: 2)What were the toughest and happiest moments of your career?
A: 2)Toughest for me was making a conscious decision to leave academia and science for various reasons. My identity was wrapped with being a scientist, and I didn’t know who I would be without saying “I have to go to the lab”. But taking that step away for 2 years allowed me to develop a new passion and a new voice. I’m not back in academia and industry (along with non-profit) sectors, and loving every moment of it. My happiest moment….that is a very difficult question. I have many many happy memories that range from jokes with friends, having my life partner sit next to me on late nights and watch me pipette, to seeing pride on my dad’s face at my PhD graduation. It would be difficult to narrow it down.
Q: 3)What’s your favourite science-related book?
A: 3)Oh science related book? I have to admit, I haven’t read a book in a long time 🙈 let alone a science one. I’ll skip this question 🙂
Q: 4)Have you ever felt like giving up? Why and what kept you working towards your goals?
A: 4)There are so many times I wanted to give up! First when I realized that research not medicine was my path. I didn’t know how to unlearn that. I actually did give up at one point when I decided to leave academia. But instead I started Lotus STEMM as a way to connect with others, and see if my story was similar to theirs. In that, not only did I find my identity again, I also found that I’m more driven to help others find their space in STEM. So while I’m back in academia and am in industry, I continue to push for equity and accessibility in these sectors (while continuing to do research…my first true love).
Closing Remarks: I hope that helped you! Feel free to reach out at any time! Also, I just checked out your site, and wow!!! Love it!! Roopali
Closing Remarks: That is very helpful and impressive! Thanks a lot for your time! I will definitely keep you updated when I post the answers on my website and I’m looking forward to attending more of your speeches or even doing other online interviews together!Thank you again and have a great day!😀 Ad astra, Maria Neagoie