Vandana Ravindran
Research fellow at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research

What was your dream career when you were younger?

I was always fascinated by the science and admired Albert Einstein and Marie Curie and wanted to be like them. Their biography truly inspired me to pursue my career as a scientist. Einstein’s quote “ Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world”  was a great inspiration.


What subjects did you study at school?

I studied English, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Computing ,Geography, History and Civics


Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?

My parents! My parents were the people who encouraged me in science and taught me the concepts by experiments at home. My father taught me maths and my mother taught me natural sciences. They both would always buy science related books and puzzles to help me discover my love for the subject.


How have the subjects you studied at school helped you in your career?

Studying STEM subjects were necessary for me to pursue my career. I realised that most of the STEM subjects were easy to understand and one can relate almost all of them to our daily activities. Languages were also important since I need to write and articulate my research work.  


Please briefly describe your STEM journey since leaving school.

I went to University to study Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Botany and Zoology to pursue my interests in natural sciences straight after school. Later, I did a Master’s in Bioinformatics since I loved computing and Mathematics. I then worked for a year as a junior researcher in the field of Cardiovascular science. This helped me to develop the skills needed and motivated me to join for a PhD program. I then applied for a PhD fellowship. I did my PhD in computational biology, where I applied mathematics and computer science to understand biological systems. As part of my PhD, I trained myself in computer science subjects. Soon after my PhD, I was awarded the Royal Society’s Newton International fellowship and joined the MRC- University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research as postdoctoral fellow. I work on understanding how a virus hijacks the human cells using computational and mathematical techniques. I find my job extremely rewarding as I love analysing the vast amount of data generated and add my findings, methods to the scientific knowledge base that can help scientists working in lab to test their hypothesis in a more refined way.


What skills do you utilise most in your career? 

A logical and independent mind since I need to reason and design experiments and analyse accordingly. A whole lot of patience as at times things don’t work as planned, working in a team and writing articulately.


What advice would you give to any young people considering a STEM career? 

STEM career is incredibly exciting. It is not very hard when you understand the concepts logically and associate it with your daily life. It can get boring but there is always new to learn. Anyone can pursue a STEM career as you will find that there is something for everyone.