Harisha Rajanala and Aayushi Uberoi were selected for the Khorana Scholars Program in 2010 to conduct research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW Madison). At the time of selection they were in the final year of B. Tech Biotechnology at NIT-Warangal and SRM University, respectively. “It was great being in the company of like-minded fellows with diverse research interests. The Khorana Parivar (family) created a supportive environment outside of lab” say Harisha and Aayushi. Both former Khorana Scholars returned to UW Madison in 2011, this time to pursue PhDs in cancer research.
This summer they attended the weekly organizational meetings of the current WINStepforward board as volunteers. In the process of preparing activities for the 2015 Khorana-Bose programs, they excitedly proposed the idea of weekly mentoring sessions for the incoming 2015 group. Aayushi and Harisha have both received training in curriculum design and teaching at UW and utilized their experiences in designing a curriculum that was implemented in these sessions.. They also served as the mentors for the incoming students at UW-Madison.
In planning for implementing a curriculum, the girls brainstormed topics to cover during each week of the 2015 Scholars’ internship. The syllabus included group discussions to cover variety of areas such as – ethics in science, presenting scientific research to a general audience, and career oriented discussions. An important part of the curriculum was peer-reviews of the research the Scholars were performing in their respective labs. The curriculum was active learning oriented and highly adaptable such, that could be modified depending on the feedback received from the scholars and organizational team. The goal of these sessions was to foster camaraderie among the scholars such that they can utilize each other’s expertise as learning resources that would go a long way beyond the program.
Reflecting upon their mentorship experience, Aayushi and Harisha say that while students may have different career goals, it is still imperative for them to learn how to communicate research effectively, be well rounded, and grasp time management skills in order to balance lab work with other science related activities. They feel this pilot run of the project went very well. The comments from the Scholars were extremely positive, and the pair are looking forward to improving the content of the sessions based on the Scholar feedback they received. They’re excited about the possibility of making the sessions accessible online to Scholars not only here at UW Madison, but to the Scholars all across the U.S.
Aayushi also took the initiative to create a website for Scholars who would be interning at UW Madison. The website proved to be a great resource to the Scholars and covers everything from lab safety procedure to Madison area Indian grocery stores that deliver! To visit the website, please click the link, https://sites.google.com/site/khoranascholars2015/home.
WINStep Forward and the Khorana and Bose Scholars Programs would like to thank these two outstanding Khorana volunteers, whose dedication to science and students is a reflection of the Khorana Parivar, where, “Scholars have found that their shared passion for scientific knowledge also creates an enduring bond that will last far beyond the end of the program.”