Indira Rajagopal was born in a college town in northeast India with a population of about 50,000 people. She spent her childhood with her parents who played equal parts in her life and in raising her and her siblings. When she was young, she and her parents would go on walks and they’d teach her the scientific names of the plants and animals they’d see. She traveled with her father as he collected samples for his work with the National Institute for Disease Control and as he gave talks at various symposiums. Her mother became ill when Rajagopal was young, so she did not have the opportunity travel as much with her.
Rajagopal attended college in New Delhi and participated in undergraduate research on plant calluses. After she received her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry, she attended the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore to complete her doctorate.
Rajagopal began her post-doctoral work at the University of California San Diego before defending her doctoral thesis. After working at the UCSD lab for several years, she planned to return to India. She went back to Bangalore to defend her thesis and receive a Ph.D. in biochemistry after a year. Once she had returned to the United States, she became a teaching assistant for an enzyme kinetics class. Rajagopal decided to stay in the United States after meeting a fellow postdoc in the UCSD lab who later became her husband.
Rajagopal began her work at Oregon State University as a post-doc in Dr. Christopher Mathews’ laboratory. While she worked there, she began to instruct a laboratory course and then started to teach other classes. Eventually, Rajagopal became an instructor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.
Once Rajagopal began teaching, she also began mentoring and advising students. Since the Department of Biochemistry did not have official positions for advisors, she was able to advise students and continue instructing classes. She is currently a senior instructor for the Biochemistry and Biophysics Department and she instructs classes in Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics.