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From Biotech to Communication

May 8, 2009

I just finished my B. Tech in Biotechnology a couple of months ago. However, I am switching to the field of Communication(the Media related one, and not Communication Engineering) for my master’s. There are several reasons for my choosing to do so.

The primary reason behind the decision to switch fields is that I prefer interacting with people rather than with, er, books. I like to talk and write. Rather excessively, that too. πŸ˜› So keeping that in mind, I tried to take a look at what Biotechnology had in store for me. I was clear that I was not game for anything apart from research in Biotechnology. However, that restricted my interaction with people by a significant amount. I am a guy who likes to talk about everything going on in my life. Keeping my work confidential for about five years, for the fear of letting someone else publish my work, is not something that I can handle.

Another aspect is that, when it comes to research, from what I have seen in research laboratories, there is way too much reading of scientific journals to be done. And though some might like it, I am not a big fan of it in some ways. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the journals. What I meant was that, in most cases a scientist read the journals to get ideas related to his/her work, and, wait for this, to make sure that no one else has already published something on the topic that he/she scientist is already working on. Well, fear of losing all the hard work put in causes this. Understandable, but not encouraging. Logically speaking, it makes sense. But there is too much of a risk factor involved there. Even if there isn’t, I was sort of turned off by the idea and the fact that such things had actually happened in the past.

An amusing thought which struck me a few weeks ago is that the research that goes on is very funny. Not surprisingly, mot researches work with the aim of proving an existing research wrong or to find exceptions/loopholes. So it was not surprising when my mom came up to me one day and told me that all of us should stop consuming sugar, as sugar caused cancer. I was stunned when I heard that, because that, till date, is the most moronic thing I have heard. Apparently, my mom stumbled upon a news bit in some site which said that recent reports indicate that consuming sugar caused cancer.

Now here is how most of these researches work. You come up with an idea, say the above mentioned cancer research, and do as much reading as you can on the subject, covering all the related journals. Then chalk out a methodology that should be used and get started with the experiments. You could have a test sample of as less as 10 or 100, though there are billions of possibilities on earth. If I wanted to prove that sugar caused cancer, and using laboratory mice I might have about 50 mice on a sugar-free diet, and 50 more on diets containing varying amounts of sugar. Say 10 normal mice on sugar-free diets developed cancer, but 15 mice on a diet containing very high levels of sugar ended up with cancer. You would have just proved that sugar caused cancer! Of course, there are several other tests to be performed, but this is just a fun way of looking at it, though its essentials are very much true.

So yeah, I wanted to get into field in which most knowledge would be got by interacting with people. I saw this movie called “Thank You for Smoking.” Though it is only a movie, it made me think. It opened my eyes to a different world. I decided that it was time I tried to do something along those lines, where talking and writing counted more than reading in fear(I say reading in fear, though that is not the only thing that happens in Biotechnology. But that is the way I looked at it when I wanted to change my field).

After meeting several people(educational counsellors, friends, relatives, university representatives from the US, people from the USIEF, my GRE tutor, etc.) I decided that I should try my hand at Communication. Journalism was an option which many suggested, and I am giving it a serious thought, apart from a general master’s in Communication itself.

My only problem with today’s Indian Media is that it is too biased in many ways and that the news is sensationalized all the time. Watch any Hindi news channel and you will see “sensationalization” at its worst. They run 2-hour segments if Khali(a WWE “superstar”) wins some pay-per-view event in the WWE! Now is that what a news channel should be doing? A small 2 minute segment should suffice(if they were THAT interested), but not something that ran for hours! I don’t even have to get started on how biased the Indian Media is, especially the TV Media. It is sad because it influences the thinking of the people to a great deal, and I feel this needs to be changed.

So initially, the field of Journalism seemed repulsive. But now, I feel that the field seriously needs some change. And I know that there are many others out there who feel the same. I feel that it is very much possible for us to make a difference, with the support of rest who make up the audience/public. So what turned out to be a repulsive force is now an attractive force. I am applying to India’s top college of Journalism. If I get in, awesome! If not, I will still work towards the change that this country very badly needs. As for my Biotechnology background, I can turn a science writer if I wanted to. It would give me several laughs and keep my work fun. Not a bad idea, actually. Let us see. πŸ˜›

23 Comments leave one →
  1. gopal permalink
    May 8, 2009 4:44 PM

    ok ,here’s a dumb question- how on earth will you conduct an undercover sting operation if you cant keep your mouth shut?

  2. Adi permalink*
    May 8, 2009 4:53 PM

    Hahaha! Nice way of putting it. But then again, an undercover sting operation is not the same as research in Biotechnology. Another example of trying to draw parallels between two rather unrelated things. πŸ˜› Like I said, the actions might be justified, it is just that I am not fine with it, and so choose not to stick to the field of research for the rest of my life. I am, by no means saying that this is what all of science is based on. I chose my words carefully and I know what I am saying.

    I remember having conversations with you about incidents that have happened in the past where plagiarism cost people dear. Also, there have also been cases(as I got to see in my lab in CLRI while working on the project) where huge chunks of people’s works had to be discarded because others got to it before they did. It is unfortunate and risky, but it is funny in a way too. At least, I choose to look at it that way.

  3. gopal permalink
    May 8, 2009 5:17 PM

    2 thing- i never did ask y u r leavin da field – dat’s ur descision nd i respect dat.everyf ield has it’s drawbacks and research in science is no different.l

    Now – i dont know much about sting ops but den again , i kind of figure der’s gonaa b a fair share of work in vovled b4 conductin a sting- wat’s da point of tryin 2 catch some1 with thier pants down if u dont know where 2 start – u would hav 2 do god knows how much work goin through records , paperwork , artic;es, establish ur own sset of contacts.Now in our country i am pretty certain if da pp; u gonna sting wise , u could b in big trouble – so technically u r gonna hav2 keep ur mouth shut for a bit of time i dont know how long these things take mayb not 5 yrs but long enough so dat u hav 2 keep a significanyt part ur life confidential nd da stakes will b more higer dan losin a few yrs work nd ideas. Now in ur post u mention u like to talk abt everttin in ur life nd da neccessity of keepin ur work confidential cuz of fear dat in essence some1 else may know it. dis whole thing could b a result of an overactive imagination , movies , yadda , yadda bit i think i hav made it clear dat both fields invovle a bit of confidentiality- now in ur reply u dodges da question completly – so again how on earth will you conduct an undercover sting operation if you cant keep your mouth shut?
    a yes or no will suffice

  4. Adi permalink*
    May 8, 2009 5:51 PM

    Hahahaha! Well, I will reply to the rest of your comment later, but firstly, your post reminds me of Jeppiaar. LOL! Sorry about that, though. A mistake, I am sure. A “how will you do that?” can’t be answered with a yes or a no. But anyway, to answer your question, they usually can’t be done if you keep your mouth shut. But then again, like I said, I don’t believe sting operations have anything to do with research in science apart from the need for confidentiality to an extent. More so in a sting operation than in science.

    However, like I said, I just posted some of the things which came to my mind while I was still deciding if I had to go ahead with changing my field. And I listed out the reasons for doing so. I also said that it was necessary for people to keep their mouths shut about it and keep checking journals to see if a similar work has already been published, but I just don’t like the idea of doing that, though that is how the field works. It is true, like you said, that every field has its drawbacks. But we decide based on what we would like to do best. You choose to go ahead with research, I respect you for that. I LOVE working in the lab, but not several things associated with it. And so I decided to move on.

  5. gopal permalink
    May 8, 2009 6:37 PM

    well grand poobah i made a mistake- boo hoo for me . now will you answer my question- how on earth will you conduct an undercover sting operation if you cant keep your mouth shut? u can simply reply ” well sir, i know when to shut my damn mouth”.( Poobah , is this right?) the sir thing is for da jpr ref – u sent in 2 comments abt ritin abt ur descision 2 quit ur field nd all and actually agree wit my last comment. i am refferin 2 dis part ” don’t believe sting operations have anything to do with research in science apart from the need for confidentiality to an extent. More so in a sting operation than in science” oh if i remind u of jpr u r remindin me of wilson rite now cuz u r actually givin me an answer not related to da question. if ur gonna reply ,dont start abt journals , blah blah blah , i am not questioning y u r changin ur field , i asked u really simple question nd u go for a cheap shot and dodge da damn question 2 comments runnin…..(again is this wrong gramattically – u get da message rite ? pardon my jpr impersonation but since he was da only 1 who had supreme authority over wilson , i had no choice)

  6. Adi permalink*
    May 8, 2009 6:43 PM

    “But anyway, to answer your question, they usually can’t be done if you DON’T keep your mouth shut.”

    That was my supposed to be answer to your question, but I messed up big time. I left out the “don’t” there in a hurry. My bad. Had I not missed that, your response would have been very different, right? πŸ˜›

  7. gopal permalink
    May 8, 2009 7:15 PM

    well dat’s wat u get for comparin me wit jpr. now da real queation – “can YOU(grand poobah , who just screwed up) keep ur mouth shut”

    A Yes or No will suffice

    jpr i may b but u did one hell of a wilson

  8. Adi permalink*
    May 8, 2009 7:52 PM

    Well, I think the answer to that is obvious. NO! Well, in most cases at least. πŸ˜›

    As for the Wilson part, I will take that as the biggest insult I have ever got in my life. You suck! πŸ˜›

  9. gopal permalink
    May 8, 2009 8:05 PM

    I suck huh? again you resort to such cheap shots, hmm….

    i am certain that the Jeppiar part was the nicest thing any1 from college could tell me so i was compelled to reply in kind.

    ah well , truth hurts blah blah blah

    well after god knows how many comments , you actually answered my question , so maybe you wont turn into a dithering spineless invertebrate of a hod of a gawd help us college in the future. Ah well you never know…

  10. Anonymous permalink
    May 8, 2009 8:31 PM


  11. Adi permalink*
    May 8, 2009 11:07 PM

    ??? An anonymous comment which just applauds? At the post or at Gopal’s comment?

    @Gopal. Hahaha! Of course I will not end up as a dithering spineless(invertebrate) HOD in a gawd-help-us college anytime in the future. To reach such heights, one needs to be $PECIAL! And I am not that special. πŸ˜› As for your question, I tried answering directly it in my very second post, but ended up with a stupid typo which conveyed the very opposite. My bad. Okay, I suck too. Happy? πŸ˜›

    • nandini permalink
      May 21, 2009 2:46 PM

      i forgot to type in my name. i applauded at the post because i liked it and your decision. i’ll probably change my career path too.. i’m sooo confused abt what i want to do! good thing you found something you liked and immediately switched fields before turning forty-five and saying “now that i’ve worked for so many years, i want to fulfil my dreams”. good thing you’re fulifilling your ambition fromm the beginning! (maybe ambition/dream is an exaggeration, but i dont know how passionate you are abt what you’re doing.

      next time you see an anonyous post, assume its me. if the text looks like something i’ll type, that is.

  12. aniramzee permalink
    May 8, 2009 11:11 PM

    Lol! nice post, but the comments were the toast of this one πŸ˜› Gopal rocks, JPR or not. And you better consider changing your name to something like the sp2 hybridised christians of tn. say hello to adi wilson πŸ˜›

  13. Adi permalink*
    May 8, 2009 11:17 PM

    Oh well, Gopal is usually the butt of most jokes in class. But I need to try and keep my mouth shut for now in order to make sure that my blog grows. No insulting those who are helping my blog grow. But Gopal is going to pay for this some day. And he knows it. πŸ˜›

    And Ani, the sp2 hybridised Christians of TN?! Haha! Nice one! Not the past after that, though. Wilson is a loser!

  14. gopal permalink
    May 9, 2009 7:20 AM

    u suck ? if u say sond here i was tinkin da world of u.nd i hav 2 pay-for askin a valid ques .ah well-daonly brite side is dat u say u r gonna kee p ur mouth shu t-dats gonna b a first

  15. satish permalink
    May 9, 2009 12:23 PM

    well atleast u knw wht u want to do and wht ur capabale of,don have to justify it to ppl man.. oh ya! u cant keep things to urself.. tht explains it :P.. good luck .. hopin to see u soon on AIR πŸ™‚

  16. Adi permalink*
    May 9, 2009 12:27 PM

    Hahahaha! Thanks a LOT! πŸ™‚ I would not be justifying anything if people like Gopal had not said a word. πŸ˜› Anyway, thanks once again. And Good luck to you too. πŸ™‚

    Gopal, you really were thinking the world of me? Yeah right! LOL! Anyway, not going on about this now. No point.

  17. aniramzee permalink
    May 9, 2009 3:45 PM

    Adi, just admit it. You met your match in Gopal. He screwed your case and all you could do was make a lame comparison between him and JPR, and you answered his question when there was no other go πŸ˜› it pays to be honest about these things. I’ve seen some famous bloggers get their asses whipped once in a while. So don’t take this to heart πŸ˜›

  18. May 18, 2009 11:57 PM

    From biotechnology towards journalism?
    rather, from arctic towards the world!!
    good read!

    • Adi permalink*
      May 18, 2009 11:59 PM

      Hahaha! Arctic to the world? Biotechnology is not so bad, you know? Very much the next IT, as they say. However, let us see how things go at my end. Applying to universities. Have entrance exams in a few days. Hope all goes good. And yeah, thanks once again. Both for taking time off to read all the stuff that I wrote, and also for posting your views. Much appreciated. πŸ™‚

  19. May 22, 2009 1:11 AM

    Well for me biotechnology and nuclear physics are similar.
    In both cases i do not understand a word!
    I have a friend from India who is a research scholar but makes documentaries. Quiet funny huh?

    • May 28, 2009 10:01 PM

      Haha! Well, I guess Biotechnology is his field and he just loves to make documentaries. More like a hobby, I guess. It is always nice to pursue fields of such varied interest if you can make time for them. It makes you feel nice. Often people have interests in various fields, but the education system in many coutnries is not flexible enough to match all our interests. So if you get the chance, it should be fun to do what you love. Biotechnology research and documentaries? Poles apart. But I guess that is what makes each person’s resume look unique. And many people actually appreciate that. Take Journalism for instance. Biotechnologists are in great demand because they can bring the complex research publications to every household through news channels and newspapers, without compromising on the scientific content. So I guess we will get to see the emergence of many such new fields in the coming years. And it is a good thing, I guess.

  20. PRATYUSHA permalink
    August 31, 2009 6:08 PM

    hi i agree with your opnion..adi…………. communication is reaching to every body………

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