Student Spotlight – Anumita Bajpai
Anumita Bajpai has infectious enthusiasm for her work in communicable diseases. Her path to Yale’s Master of Public Health program wove its way from an undergraduate degree in microbiology and biochemistry to a NIH fellowship in Panama where she worked in a TB diagnostics lab.
That experience was transformative. First of all, she went from working in a state-of-the-art lab, to a facility and country with basic infrastructure challenges. Anumita quickly learned that you do what it takes — when the ice machine breaks, you walk in the tropical heat to the grocery store on the way to the lab to purchase ice. Then you crush the ice used to preserve serum before you began the day’s work.
Anumita also learned that science doesn’t always take a linear path. What was supposed to be a quick side project examining whether the IGM antibody could be used as a biomarker for TB, turned into her main focus when her 600 serum samples, in fact, showed surprisingly positive results for the antibody in patients with latent and active TB.
Upon return from Panama, Anumita worked in a TB drug discovery lab at the Infectious Disease Research Institute where she qualified to work in a level 3 biohazard lab. Now a student in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases and the Public Health Modeling Concentration, finds that Yale is a perfect fit for her interests. Since she has a solid foundation in laboratory science, she is taking a deep dive into epidemiology and modeling. The modeling seminar, in particular, has opened new horizons in her thinking. “Modeling is so underused and appreciated. It is the future,” says Anumita. So, despite her brief hesitation about the math, she is totally sold on its worth and potential to revolutionize drug discovery and public health implementation.
Anumita has also discovered the joy of teaching while serving as a teaching fellow in a biology course for Yale College. “There’s no better feeling than when you see eyes light up,” says Anumita.