Alumni Stories: Devavani Chatterjea

Devavani Chatterjea
Immunology PhD, 2001

Professor of Biology
Macalester College

What from your experiences, development, research, and interactions at Stanford have you found essential to success in your postgraduate career?

I learned to be tough at Stanford. It was a demanding environment, and rising to meet its challenges, I found within myself capacities that I had not considered before. This gave me confidence to pursue and succeed in what was considered a somewhat non-traditional career trajectory. The connections I made with scientists and trainees from all over the world have become lifelong friendships and creative professional collaborations.

What have you found personally rewarding about your work/field?

I lead a research group (focused on allergy) and teach a wide variety of cell biology, immunology, and public health courses at a leading liberal arts college in the Midwest. Immunology is a trans-disciplinary, systems science that is a natural fit for the current emphasis on connective, systems-level thinking in biology. What has also been especially rewarding is the opportunity to mentor young scientists early in their careers.

What information would you share with PhD candidates who are interested in your current field?

Cultivate communication skills at all levels. Be flexible and imaginative in your areas of study. Be willing to ask for help and persist until you get the help, support, and backup you need for what you want to do with your training. Create the community you need to help you succeed, the one that will help you when things are difficult as they surely will be from time to time.

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