July 2018 Spotlight: Dhruv Patel

DP RIPE Bio Pic Cropped (1) - Dhruv PatelJuly 2018 Spotlight: Dhruv Patel

CLEAR Member? Yes – since August 2016

What do you do? I try and figure out how plants and algae protect themselves when they experience too much light (which is usually most of the time!) to try and make photosynthesis as efficient as possible.

Who else in your life is a scientist? Did you grow up around science and researchers? I’m the first scientist in my family, and I owe that opportunity to the sacrifices my parents made when they immigrated to this country. From growing up in a hotel room to graduating as a first-generation college student, I’ve had the opportunity to discover my passions and learn how I can use my skills to contribute to our understanding of the world. If you have an interest for science, never think it’s too far out of reach. The world can always use a few more inquisitive minds!

“If you have an interest for science, never think it’s too far out of reach.”

Which college did you attend? Cornell University

When did you decide to pursue the current field you are in? By random chance, I decided to join a program called FFA (Future Farmers of America). I learned how integral food production is to the way we live, and ended up falling in love with the molecular foundation of it all. Now I want to do all I can to expand what we know about plant biology, and use that knowledge to address problems of food insecurity in a productive and sustainable way.

What do you hope to do after you leave grad school? Ultimately, I hope to one day become a professor at a research university – giving me the chance to ask new questions and mentor new scientists as we learn more about the world around us.

Why did you join CLEAR? Scientists have spent too much time in labs and not enough time sharing what they do outside of it! I’m happy to be part of a group that’s doing just that.

What is your favorite go-to spot or activity when friends from out of town come to the Bay? Eating our way through all the good food in the Bay. Vik’s Chaat House and Cheeseboard are a must!

If you could go back and give yourself advice at any point in your schooling, what would it be? Don’t let the fear of rejection slow you down, apply and see where those amazing opportunities might take you!

What do you wish you had known about grad school before you started? Everyone is winging it more than you think! Work hard, make mistakes, learn from them, and keep moving forward as best as you can.

What has been your favorite outreach activity or experience? Working at Discovery Day at AT&T Park – sometimes you need to see the unbridled scientific curiosity of little kids to revive that same excitement in yourself.


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