Antara Chatterjee, Physiology
Student Name: Antara Chatterjee
Research Title: Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Biochemical Analyses Detect Changes in the Extracellular Matrix of the Murine Cervical Stroma During Term and Preterm Labor
Supervisor: Dr. Stephen Lye and Dr. Oksana Shynlova
Description of your research:
My project is very exciting as I get to wear a lot of hats: from learning female reproductive physiology, the physiology of pregnancy during term and preterm labor, understanding how magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) works, and to interacting with women diagnosed as having high-risk pregnancies. Altogether, I get to work with a collaborative team in pursuit of understanding the changes that occur in the female reproductive tract prior to delivering at term and preterm by combining basic biochemical analyses and imaging approaches to improve the care that high-risk pregnant women receive.
Why did you choose this department:
I chose the Department of Physiology because I genuinely enjoyed the physiology courses I took during my undergrad. Ever since then, I was always interested in understanding what makes a body tick- from the functional aspects of the body all the way down to its genetics. The research that comes out of this department also appeared to be very fulfilling, and it seemed like it would be a great opportunity to learn new technical skills that would help me in my future endeavors.
How was your experience looking for a research opportunity:
At first it was difficult to secure a supervisor whose research appealed to me. Supervisors were either not looking for any new students, or had already hired someone else. However, through persistence and showing enthusiasm, I was able to be a part of many exciting research projects that has helped me get into my Master's program today.
When did you start your research experience:
My first research project was actually in the Department of Psychology, during undergrad in my third year! Because of that experience,I was able to acquire transferable skills that I still get to use for my current Master's project.
Why did you choose this supervisor:
Women and maternal health is very important to me due to personal reasons and aspirations, thus I wanted to work with Dr. Lye and Dr. Shynlova because their research in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology was right up my alley. Not only are they well-known for their research in pregnancy complications, but they have also been very devoted mentors.
What’s your experience with research:
My experience with research has been a humbling one; I came into research with the naive impression that my research would save lives and make an impact right away. I realized instead that research is an arduous process with the payoff being few and far between but still being so rewarding and so worth it when you finally get that "eureka" moment.
How’s the social experience with research:
Although research can be isolating and dire at times, I have developed friendships that has helped me to navigate the frustrations of graduate school. It is nice to know that the ups and downs of research happens to a lot of us, and it's also nice to have an understanding group of peers who are there to cheer you on.
What are your future career plans:
I hope to integrate research with a career as an OB/GYN.
Mental health is very important and being resilient is key in the face of adversity. Find a good group of people who support you as you go through setbacks in your research, and make sure you have a life outside of lab to keep your mind off of things. Trust me!!!