Dr.Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

13 Jan

Venki Ramakrishnan is a 2009 Nobel laureate in chemistry along with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath.

I want to share this talk for its sheer honesty and also to allude the spectrum of talent that lies outside conventional diciplines of engineering or medicine. Those were the choices for bright students some decades ago. May be they still are in my country. I think canvas of talent is always bigger.

I love science and  was my favorite subject in school. The nobel laureate says candidly that he could not break into any of the prestigious institutions like Indian Institute of Technology or Christian medical college.  The  good scientist also says most candidly he realised he did not have a aptitude in chosen interest of Physics while finishing his Doctorate of philosophy. He further went to graduate school to make a shift to structural Biology.  This a brave decision and has paid handsomely in a very rewarding career. The scientist chanelised the setbacks to something constructive and gives good honest advise ” You should pursue your interests but keep your options open when there are setbacks.”

If you would wish to explore more of the good scientists Bio, please see: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/2009/ramakrishnan-bio.html

” When I got to graduate school in Ohio, I was surprised to see that over half of our class consisted of foreigners, many of them from India. I passed the obligatory comprehensive exam after two years of coursework, and then chose to work in solid-state theory with Tomoyasu Tanaka. For my proposal, I had considered doing some theoretical work on biological systems, but since neither he nor I knew any biology, this did not go anywhere. The problem I took on was to look at ferroelectric phase transitions in potassium dihydrogen phosphate. This was a particularly difficult time for me, since I had no feel for the problem or even what the basic questions were. It was the first time in many years that I felt I had chosen the wrong field. At the same time, I found myself tremendously interested by the articles in biology in Scientific American, to which I have subscribed off and on through the years. It appeared that hardly a month went by without a major breakthrough in the life sciences, whereas physics was having a hard time making any fundamental progress. Certainly I felt that if I continued in physics, I would be doing boring and tedious calculations rather than making really interesting advances. The result was that I felt so frustrated that I withdrew from my thesis work and spent an inordinate amount of time on extracurricular activities. I went hiking and hopped on freight trains with my good friend and class mate Sudhir Kaicker, learned about western classical music from another friend, Anthony Grimaldi, played on the chess team, read literature, and went to concerts. In short, I did everything except make progress on my work. Tomoyasu was far too kind and patient, but even he would get worried every few months and ask how I was getting on. I was too embarrassed to tell him that I wasn’t getting on at all! I often joke that if I had graduate students like me, I’d fire them!

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/from-chidambaram-to-cambridge-a-life-in-science/article391164.ece

I am nobody really had the same inclination in science and did not like my graduate course in electronics and drifted . I studied something else just to prepare for a  public examination which became my goal. I wish had shown better determination and discretion like the good scientist who moved into Biology after a ph.d in Physics. I think America gives that opportunity. Here every one is Judgemental…

But as some one said ” It’s not where you start but where you finish that matters..”  I think Venki Ramakrishnan is a stellar scientist who has done great work on Ribosomes. I think we should look upto scientists . I am inspired by Venki Ramakrshnan’s work and career.

We are all wired differently and there is no prototype of excellence, generally we can be whatever we want to be is my credo..

I hope you like the  NDTV video. Scientists and school mates inspire me.

Goodnight friends!

Love, Suresh


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