Meet Postdoc Snigdha Bhowmick, PhD
Meet Our Postdocs is an occasional series featuring our postdoc students
Snigdha Bhowmick, PhD, is a postdoc in the laboratory of Neil Bhowmick, PhD, professor of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Cedars-Sinai. Her interest lies in studying the communication between tumor cells and microenvironment in liver metastasis.
Recently, Bhowmick won second place in the Cedars-Sinai elevator pitch contest during National Postdoc Appreciation Week. She explained in only one minute how she is working to understand the role of glucocorticoid signaling in prostate cancer metastasis.
Here, we learn more about some of Bhowmick’s greatest scientific achievements and challenges.
First, what inspired you to become a scientist?
It was a very organic progression. I’m always interested in new knowledge, and I never like reading a book twice, so research as a profession just fits my way of life. I ended up choosing to specialize in biology because it was at the top of my list of curiosities, and it has always been my favorite subject.
What is your favorite thing about science and research?
The fact that we actually create new knowledge! I’m insanely impressed that we get paid to do research and can make a career out of doing things for fun!
What has been your greatest scientific achievement in your career so far?
My greatest scientific achievement was my PhD thesis, which was a mountain of work. It’s not only the actual report but the amount of time and effort it takes to understand a field and a particular research problem, then shape it to form precise research questions, and then design an experiment to answer it all. Most experiments don’t work, of course! The doctoral project is always special, as every detail and experience counts.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Finding the will to keep going when nothing seems to work. For example, sometimes research takes the work in a totally different direction, which can be exciting to pursue, but the uncertainty can also be humbling. It’s been a learning curve understanding the way gratification works in research. I’m still learning to just keep trying new things and stay motivated when faced with failure.
Who is your science hero?
I have many, but the most recent one is Dr. Gagandeep Kang, an Indian scientist who works in infectious diseases. Her best-known work is on rotaviral vaccines which have been instrumental in shaping the oral vaccine program for enteric diseases common among infants in India.
I had the pleasure of meeting her in person during my graduate program, and she is an absolute wonder woman. She is the kind of scientist I aspire to be.
What has been your favorite discovery in science?
It’s more an understanding than a discovery, which is that any knowledge is almost always contextual. This might only be specific to the field of biology, though. I found a mechanism by which voltage-dependent anion channels, or VDACs, help tumor progression in hepatocellular carcinoma, which was the discovery in my PhD work. This is specific for one isoform of the channel protein, and what happens in hepatocellular carcinoma might not be true for a different type of cancer.
In the future, what do you hope happens in your science career?
I want to continue understanding cancer as a disease, and hopefully soon I can have my own lab doing so. I’m also interested in communicating about what we do in science and want to make an impact writing for a nonacademic audience.