Pioneer Spotlight - Soma Chattopadhyay

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Pioneer Spotlight
Dr. Soma Chattopadhyay
May 16, 2014

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Dr. Soma Chattopadhyay received her undergraduate degree in chemistry and chemical technology from the University of Calcutta in India. She continued on to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she received a Ph.D. in chemistry. Chattopadhyay is in her fourth year at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville where she works as an assistant professor of chemistry.

Where did you gain your interest for science?
I have always been interested in the areas of physics, chemistry and mathematics. Growing up in an extended family of engineers and scientists, I was exposed to real-life science applications and got a feel for science from an early age.

Had working in academia always been part of your plans?
I had exposure to both science and academia growing up as both my father and grandfather were professors at the collegiate level and my aunts were teachers. At first, I probably didn’t think of taking on a career in academia; I wanted to do something different. My mind changed while I was conducting my post-doctoral studies in Boston, Mass. That is where is found my passion for teaching and truly enjoyed working with students.

How has your experience at UW-Platteville differed from your time elsewhere?
I really enjoy it here; Platteville has been a change of pace from large cities that I had grown accustomed to. I am in my fourth year here at UW-Platteville teaching physical chemistry and general chemistry. I am able to work with students and help them in ways that would not have been possible on larger campuses. It is such a joy when inquisitive minds stop by to ask questions on material beyond the course curriculum leading to invigorating discussions.

Are you pursuing research projects at this time?
Currently, one of the projects that I am working on involves developing alternative methods for delivering pharmaceutical drugs to treat disease. Traditional methods of drug administration, such as oral pills or injection usually result in rapid release and clearance of the drug from the body. Therefore, a high initial dose of the drug is often necessary which can result in toxic side effects. I am exploring controlled drug release by loading the drug onto porous nanoparticles and encapsulating it in a polymer shell.  In the proposed bio-engineered design, drug will be released steadily into the body over time, thus requiring fewer medication dosages. Side effects are reduced as less medicine is taken.

What role do you play as an advisor to students?
Student advising is an important part of my job. My biggest piece of advice to students is to have a plan. It is not my job to impose upon them, but rather to encourage a plan that will lead to future success in graduating on time and finding a job. I also take a strong interest in what students are doing outside of their coursework. Joining clubs, attending conferences and conducting research are all ways that students can get more out of their education.

Other than my research, I enjoy collaborating with my fellow faculty members on developing different delivery methods in education utilizing online tools and features to enhance classroom experience. I am grateful to have colleagues who are willing to collaborate with me on different projects. I learn a lot from them and my students which helps me to grow as an educator. 

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