Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Indira Rajagopal Oral History Interview, February 12, 2018

Oregon State University
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00:00:10 - Early Years

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Partial Transcript: So, what was your upbringing like?

Segment Synopsis: Discussion of childhood, including childhood walks with parents, traveling with her epidemiologist father, the National Institute of Disease Control, her “feisty” grandmother, and her mother’s passion for making science accessible for children in rural India.

Keywords: Calculus; Darwin; English; India; National Institute of Communicable Diseases; Northeastern India; World Health Organization; World War II Jeeps; biological sciences; books; brakes; childhood illnesses; college towns; communicable diseases; elephants; epidemiologists; equal partners; fathers; grandmothers; heart conditions; hospitals; hunting rifles; influences; intelligent women; jokes; jungles; living world; mothers; mountains; naturalists; oldest children; parents; poets; potatoes and rice; rain; remote areas; rhinos; schools; science; scientific names; scientists; snake bite kits; tigers; trading; trails; translations; travels; tribes; unusual upbringings; walking; wildlife sanctuaries; zoology; zoology professors

00:11:45 - College Education

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Partial Transcript: Eventually, my family moved to New Delhi…and I attended college in New Delhi.

Segment Synopsis: Discussion of moving to New Delhi, deciding on a major, a book called The Coil of Life that helped her choose biochemistry, research she completed during her undergraduate years, attending the Indian Institute of Science, and her experience at UC-San Diego that turned her away from academic research.

Keywords: Bangalore; DNA; Indian Institute of Science; New Delhi; Oregon State University; PhD programs; The Coil of Life; United States; University of California-San Diego; academic sciences; bigshots; biochemistry; books; capitols; cell differentiation; cells; chemistry biology; colleges; cutthroat; detail-oriented; disillusionments; doctorates; enthralling; experiments; firsts in the field; genetic material; graduate institutes; high schools; illnesses; intense; juniors; laboratories; learning; letters; libraries; majors; marriages; math; media; mothers; physics; plant calluses; post-doctoral work; principal investigators; professors; reading; sciences; seven million people; slime molds; stories; thesis defenses; travels; undergraduates; uninspiring; universities; viral infections

00:23:34 - Teaching at Oregon State University

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Partial Transcript: [W]hen I came to OSU, it was a huge relief to find that there were people who were marvelous scientists that didn't stomp all over people.

Segment Synopsis: Discussion of her first years at Oregon State University, including starting at Oregon State University as a postdoc, her first experience as an instructor, becoming an official instructor, past TA experiences, and teaching at Oregon State University.

Keywords: Chris Mathews; Oregon State University; biochemistry department; biochemistry teaching labs; biology department; careers; chances; classrooms; courses; curiosity; department chairs; encourage; enzyme kinetics; equations; excited about learning; fearless learners; frustrations; graduate education; human beings; human place; hypotheses; hypothesis testing; instructors; interrelations; laboratories; math; modifying; observations; official positions; postdocs; required classes; research; sabbatical; satisfaction; scientists; separation; sharing; stressful; teaching; teaching assistants; young

00:39:33 - Changes in the College Classroom

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Partial Transcript: Have you seen any shift in the demographics and the sorts of students you see in your classes?

Segment Synopsis: Discussion of the equal gender ratio and ethnic diversity (and lack thereof) in the biochemistry department at Oregon State University and the higher amounts of structure students want in classes.

Keywords: Oregon; biochemistry; caution; demographics; differences; discussion boards; diversity; ethnic backgrounds; freedom; guidance; ideas; instructions; learning; mistakes; participation; pre-college experiences; prescriptive; pressures; progress; pushing; ratios; structure; students; teaching; techniques; unknowns

00:50:16 - Advising Students

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Partial Transcript: Have you ever, besides teaching, have you ever advised students? What's that like?

Segment Synopsis: Discussion about advising students, including mentoring students as an instructor, advising students who resist taking Bacc Core courses, students who were later grateful to be pushed into certain classes and activities and out of their "boxes," and getting contacted by students after they graduate.

Keywords: Bacc core courses; Cambridge; adulthood; advisors; backgrounds; boundaries; boxes; challenges; choices; classes; colleges; contributions; curiosity; development; encouragement; enrichments; ethics; expectations; faculty; heritages; homes; ideas; identities; interactions; long-term relationships; mentoring; paths; personalities; productions; relationships; resisting; roles; social interactions; students; successes; teaching; theater; trust; tutors; unofficial; weddings

01:16:25 - Gender Experiences

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Partial Transcript: Is there anything else that you want to talk about?

Segment Synopsis: Discussion of gender, including the differences between educated and rural India and their views of women, women in educated spaces and classrooms, expectations of women's appearances, dual-working households, differences in work breakups between genders, the gender breakdown of students who received the Goldwater Scholarship, and the Women's Basketball team at Oregon State University.

Keywords: American women; Barry Goldwater Scholarship; India; Women’s Basketball; accomplishments; advising; appearances; attention; basketball games; careers; colleagues; committees; critical; daughters; dual-working households; education; friends; little girls; math; meetings; opportunities; policies; professors; respectfulness; sciences; status; tenure; tyranny; urban educated populations; women