Raj Pandya.JPG

Raj Pandya

High School Fellow


What got you interested in the SIFT and TERF programs?

"Honestly, I was looking at TERF from the beginning. TERF has that immersive research experience and SIFT was the prerequisite to TERF. TERF pays you to be in a lab. Other programs, you have to pay to be in a lab. There's a lot of question marks about my future and where I actually want to go. But to answer a lot of questions about that, whether I actually want to go into ecology or not, and even if I don't, I'd be able to learn a lot of stuff from TERF. Research fundamentally is the same and I know I genuinely want to go in that direction, even if it's not ecology."

Has TERF made you more or less interested in doing research as a career?

"More interested, because every time we have a Thursday [seminar] and we hear the speakers, it gets my synapses flowing, it really gets me juiced up. It's answered questions about specifically what I want to do and what not to do. Like, plant ecology? Now I know what that is and I'm not really that interested. But research in general can be really interesting and cool and innovative."

How do you stay motivated when you're outside all day?

"You already know! Ivan and I just grunt at each other and keep ourselves motivated, just like 'one more of this' or 'one more of that'. Sometimes you get too stuck in the smaller picture, like, Oh, we're just filling holes, but if you bring yourself back to the bigger picture, it becomes interesting again. And then you become motivated to work again. Also obviously the community here helps. If you're all suffering together, then you are not suffering.

Raj worked with Scott Mangan and Claudia Stein's Natural Enemies team during summer 2018. Learn more about their plant-microbial communities research here.