A Bit About Me
Who am I
I am Manasmita-The Scientisician! I am an experienced biomedical researcher, educationist, and science communicator, who aspires to disseminate her cross-disciplinary skills, knowledge, and experience to the next generation and help them spread their wings. My other side is - I am highly passionate about Indian Classical Music, and have been learning this art form for almost twenty-five years.
My Childhood and Education
I am a Bengali-Indian by birth. I grew up in Hooghly-Chinsurah, a small township on the bank of River Bhagirathi-Hooghly, which was also a prosperous trading post of the Dutch East India Company between the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. The major part of my schooling was from Hooghly Modern School, a co-educational English medium school, located in Chawkbazar Hooghly. After completing my undergraduate from Hooghly Mohsin College with honors in Chemistry, I went to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, for pursuing my Masters in Chemistry. It was from the same institute where I did my Ph.D. in Chemistry, specializing in Nanobiotechnology. From my childhood, the cultural ambiance within and around my family inspired me to explore the vast ocean of Indian Classical Music alongside my education. Many of you might think that science and music are poles apart but as a scientist, and a musician, or a self-acclaimed "Scientisician", I think there is an intimate connection between these two disciplines. In general, scientists are good at analyzing patterns and comfortable in Mathematics. Similarly, a musician has to understand Maths and patterns to master notes and rhythm- right? Not only that, music requires emotion, creativity, intuition, and the same is true for Science as well. No new idea or concept will get off the ground without an initial spark of inspiration. Just like an artist, scientists have to be creative and use their imagination to come up with an explanation.
About my research.
Originally trained as a synthetic organic chemist, I have spent more than a decade in the field of cancer nanomedicine and biomedical imaging. Between 2005-2012, my research primarily focused on the formulation, characterization, and in vivo evaluation of a variety of novel drug delivery systems based on biopolymers, lipids, carbon nanotubes, and magnetic nanoparticles. Later, in 2013, I joined Biomedical Research Imaging Center at UNC to gain specialized training in preclinical imaging, which is crucial for the development of new drugs. In 2014, I received an NIH-sponsored Multimodal Neuroimaging Training Program (MNTP) award from the University of Pittsburgh. I spent 6 weeks at CMU and UPMC learning various neuroimaging modalities including fMRI, DTI, MEG, EEG, PET, and optical imaging. During this time, I also mastered various pharmacokinetic modeling techniques to interpret clinical PET data from glioma patients. Initially, my research at UNC focused on dissecting the neuronal and glial components of BOLD-fMRI signals using optogenetic and chemogenetic fMRI. Later, I combined chemogenetics with pharmacological fMRI and 18F-FDG PET to decipher the functional projections of genetically distinct subpopulations of central norepinephrine neurons regulating complex behavioral and physiological processes in vivo. My research on chemogenetic fMRI had brought me a Cross-Disciplinary Fellowship award from Human Frontier Science Program and Summa Cum Laude Merit Award from ISMRM. I had also integrated my formulation skills with current imaging experience to build a dedicated Contrast agent and molecular MRI core facility at CAMRI that provided cost-effective solutions and consultancy to preclinical researchers worldwide using nanoparticles for several diagnostic applications including CBV-fMRI, micro-MR angiography, magnetomotive ultrasound imaging, and in vitro cell labeling. I am still continuing research along this line with my collaborators while engaging myself in some entrepreneurial ventures focused on educational content and resource creation for high school and undergraduate students. Lately, I have been trying to use my expertise in Indian Classical Music and Neuroscience to solve various social, cognitive, and behavioral issues while creating public awareness regarding the healing power of Indian Classical Music.