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#STEMStories: Swati, IIT Professor, Mumbai, India

Swati Patankar
Qualification: BSc, PhD, Professor at IIT Bombay
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), is recognised worldwide as a leader in the field of engineering education and research IIT Bombay has 17 departments, 13 multi-disciplinary centres, and 3 schools of excellence. The annual Science & Technology festival of IIT Bombay, Techfest, which was started in 1998, is held in the month of December every year and is Asia's largest science and tech festival.
Email ID: patankar@iitb.ac.in
Achievements: Research grants for 15 years, Teaching Awards

Interviewer is Lavanya, a High School STEM student in Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai. She wishes to major in Engineering. She is happy and proud to pursue STEM and is passionate about propagating STEM among girls.

When you were college ready, what motivated you to select the science stream? Was it something you knew you wanted to do?
Yes, I knew I wanted to do biology when I was ready for college.

What did you obtain your basic degree in?
Life Sciences

After receiving a basic degree in Life Sciences, what persuaded you to take up scientific research instead of medicine which most girls tend to lean towards?
My father is a physicist and my mother has a PhD in education so the "research" career was already being done in my family. My sister was good at English Literature but she got into medicine and did that. So my family let us choose whatever we liked.

Can you recall any eureka moments in your career or any epiphanies?
Yes, when I saw some interesting data and realized that in the malaria parasite, there is both sense and anti-sense RNA.

Do you mentor anyone? If yes, who do you mentor?
I mentor all my students, MSc and PhD. I have also taken high school students in my lab for short projects (only girls) and mentored them as well as Bachelors level students.

Having guided several science students, have you observed anything of special merit in STEM girls?
They really love science and have sometimes even gone against their family traditions to do what they love. Also, many of them grab the opportunities given to them and work really well, learn a lot in the lab.

Any advice you would like to share with STEM girls?
Be more confident!

Any advice you'd like to give your 18 year old self?
Don't be scared of failures! You will learn more from them than success.

Where can we find out more about your work?
http://www.bio.iitb.ac.in/~patankar/new/