Finding the freedom to grow at Berkeley Published: April 19, 2022 By: Jennifer Denton Teena BajajTeena Bajaj, a PhD student in Comparative Biochemistry, tells us why she chose Berkeley and how she found the freedom to grow to her fullest capacity. Why did you choose Berkeley? I was fortunate to be selected as a Khorana scholar in 2016 and find a research lab as a host at UC Berkeley, one of the top research universities in the world. The exotic research and opportunities to work with eminent scientists, huge number of resources and the true freedom to grow to the fullest capacity, intrigued me to get enrolled at UC Berkeley. Diverse academic programs at UC Berkeley provides an interdisciplinary research environment, nurturing students for their future. UC Berkeley has designed their programs with the motive of enhancing students educational experiences. Other resources including professional development, career centers, writing center, multicultural community center at UC Berkeley support students professionally as well as personally. I feel very happy and proud to be a part of UC Berkeley. What inspired you to choose this area of study (at Berkeley)? As a kid, I had been served dinner with home cooked scientific stories. This brought my long lasting interest in biology. I joined the comparative biochemistry program at UC Berkeley, providing freedom, interdisciplinary scientific research environment and networking opportunities which is a crucial aspect in graduate student life, inspiring me to join the same program. What would you tell a student that is deciding to come to Berkeley? UC Berkeley is filled with wonderful ideas. Diversity and multicultural society at Berkeley fulfills the need of belonging. You will learn and enjoy a lot with enriching academic experiences. What helps you succeed at UC Berkeley? Where do you find support? I find support in my family, my mentors, my friends, resources at UC Berkeley (Grad Pro). UC Berkeley is full of resources including career center, health services (etang services), technology support, emergency support. I have been a semi-finalist for GradSlam 2022. I won the People’s choice award. I would like to thank the Graduate division for the thrilling experience. I am very happy to meet them. What Graduate Division services have you used? GradPro, Graduate Writing Center, Getting into Graduate School (GiGS) What are some interesting projects you’ve worked on? There are a lot of projects I have worked on. In one of these projects, I determined the crystal structure of the kinase domain of a receptor tyrosine kinase (RTKs) from a choanoflagellate for the first time. This is very interesting because this unicellular, closely metazoan relative has more RTKs than human (most complex organism). Determining crystal structure of kinase domain from choanoflagellate with kinase inhibitor at two positions showed a first example of Type IV inhibitors.