Indrajit Srivastava accepted into ACS Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Recognition Program


Bethan Owen

Bioengineering postdoctoral researcher Indrajit Srivastava was successfully nominated for the ACS Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Recognition Program in honor of his outstanding mentoring efforts. 

This distinction recognizes talented graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the field of chemical sciences and was particularly meaningful for Srivastava, who has spent a significant amount of his early career as both a graduate student and a postdoctoral researcher mentoring and working with students within the bioengineering department.

Srivastava (left) and mentee Kurtis Brent at Illinois SROP Poster Session
Srivastava (left) and mentee Kurtis Brent at Illinois SROP Poster Session

“The first semester of my PhD program, I started mentoring undergraduates,” Srivastava said. “It was a little difficult, because when you start a PhD everything is a bit up in the air. At first, I didn’t feel like I had enough of a grip on my own project to mentor others. But once I found my feet, I realized that mentoring is one of the aspects I love about grad school–I'm excited about science, and if I can make other people equally excited about science, that makes me feel like I've done my job.”

In addition to sharing his love of science, Srivastava found concrete academic benefits to mentoring. Because bioengineering is such a diverse field, every student can have a different emphasis within the department. As a result, mentoring becomes an exercise in sharing information and new ideas.

“Bioengineering is a mesh of different disciplines, so you get mentees from different departments who work under the umbrella of bioengineering,” he said. “Mentees bring in experience from their disciplines, and that's the beauty of bioengineering research. It's so interdisciplinary that it offers these experiences where you can learn a lot more than you would be able to otherwise, and you’re collectively looking at problems from a whole different viewpoint.”

Mentee Jamie Jones (left) and Srivastava at BMES Orlando 2022
Mentee Jamie Jones (left) and Srivastava at BMES Orlando 2022

This mentoring recognition differentiates itself from similar awards because the nomination must be submitted by mentored students. Srivastava was nominated by Jamie Jones, a previous bioengineering undergraduate student who is now a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Kurtis Brent, a former NSF-REU frontiers in bioimaging undergraduate student who is now pursuing a joint PhD program in bioengineering at UC Berkeley.  

“It makes me happy to know that my mentees were willing to nominate me,” Srivastava said. “It’s different from being nominated by a committee or your advisor. These former students are able to directly measure my mentoring abilities, and that makes it very sweet.”

Srivastava, who will be starting as an assistant professor at Texas Tech University this semester, believes that mentoring doesn’t only benefit the mentor and the mentee, but the science community as a whole. 

“As scientists, we need to keep the chain alive,” he said. “When you start mentoring, you start giving back to the scientific community.”