NWiS Spotlight: Dr. Ilika Ghosh

July 19, 2022

MPFI’s Network for Women in Science works to raise awareness and promote change related to issues pertinent to female under-representation in STEM-related careers. We invite you to get to know some of the women making a difference at Max Planck Florida in this new series from NWiS.

Dr. Ilika Ghosh secured her Ph.D. degree in Plant Biology from University of Calcutta in India. During her Ph.D., she developed a surface-modified MRI contrast agent suitable for oral administration and drug delivery to the brain. Dr. Ghosh secured the Young Scientist Award from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India, for developing a one-step method to detect DNA damage and methylation in plant and animal cells. After her Ph.D., she joined Saitama University in Japan as a graduate researcher. She discovered novel ultrastructural interactions during the cell division cycle of cyanobacteria using electron microscopy.

In October 2020, she started working as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Neuroenergetics Laboratory led by Dr. Vidhya Rangaraju at Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience. Here, Dr. Ghosh is studying ATP – the energy currency of the brain. She developed reporters for measuring postsynaptic ATP to unravel the energy sources and sinks of the brain and determine the molecular factors regulating local ATP during memory formation. She has over 20 publications, including 16 original research articles. In addition to her research work, Dr. Ghosh is an Associate Editor for Frontiers and a reviewer of multiple journals. She is also the co-president of the Postdoctoral Association at MPFI.

1. How would you describe your journey to science?
Science fascinated me as a toddler during all my trips to the local botanic garden, zoological park, and planetarium with my parents. From high school to postdoc, my journey to science has been a fulfilling adventure. I worked in the fields of plant biology, cell biology, toxicology and nanotechnology and found my interest in neuroscience. This journey has been challenging due to the many transitions and yet rewarding as it helped me acquire multiple skills that I am using in my current position.

2. What advice do you wish someone gave to you five years ago?
I wish someone had advised me to focus on developing programming skills when I was a graduate student five years ago.

3. What is the best part of your job/career?
Every day I learn something new, overcome challenges I never thought I could, and move closer to interesting discoveries- that is the best part of my job.

4. How has your identity as a woman affected your career?
So far, my identity as a woman did not significantly affect my career. I never faced gender inequality in my pathway to science. During my research career, I always had female bosses and worked with some of the best women in science.

5. What is a challenge that you have successfully overcome in your career?
I was handling four projects during the third year of my Ph.D. I did experiments all day and wrote papers at night. It was a major challenge I could successfully overcome with hard work and support from my Ph.D. supervisor and parents. The second most challenging phase was when I started a new project in Japan. I had to establish a synchronous cyanobacterial suspension culture system which was new to the lab. After months of failed attempts and troubleshooting, I succeeded and discovered some novel ultrastructural phenomena.

To learn more about Ilika’s work in the Rangaraju lab, click here. For more information on NWiS at Max Planck Florida, click here.