Graduate Faculty Focus | Sarangan Ravichandran
“Become a self-learner. Don’t hate math; embrace it. Even if you don’t want to solve the equations, try to understand what the equation is telling you. Try to make learning an enjoyable task.”
Sarangan Ravichandran, Ph.D
- Bioinformatics (M.S.)
- Bioinformatics (C)
- Computer Science & Information Technology
Sarangan Ravichadran, Ph.D., is currently a professor in Hood College’s M.S. in bioinformatics program. Outside of Hood, Ravichadran works at Leidos, providing research support for their corporate team. Ravichadran also worked as a contractor at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research for 18 years. He holds a Ph.D. in composition chemistry and completed a post-doctorate fellowship abroad in France.
What made you want to teach? How long have you been an adjunct faculty member at Hood College?
I started teaching at Hood College in 2010. Professor Xinlian Liu invited me to teach a course called Introduction to Bioinformatics Computing. I taught courses from 2015-2018, and I have been teaching BIFX 550 with Prof. Miranda Darby since 2021. I wanted to teach because I struggled while in school, and I wanted to help others avoid the struggle that I had to go through with learning.
What is it like to be a mentor at Leidos? Is it similar to teaching at Hood College?
Yes and no. At Hood College, we teach people with the right background, so we know what to expect. At Leidos, we took students who mostly came from other backgrounds outside of chemistry. However, we still want these students to work on problems related to chemistry and biology.
Has your mentorship been recognized at all at Leidos?
The mentorship was called an academic partnership at Leidos. Dr. Ethan Dmitrovsky headed the effort. From our group, Dr. Maggie Scully, Naomi Ohashi, and then-director Dr. Eric Stahlberg gave full support to the effort. We had collaborative projects with Columbia University, and Prof. Michael Robbins was kind enough to work with us on these efforts.
Can you share any success stories related to your mentoring?
During the COVID pandemic, I had to travel to India for personal reasons. One of my students was in China, and the others were in the United States. We struggled to find a time and medium that worked for a meeting. At some point, we thought that we might not be able to pull together the project towards completion. However, the students worked overtime and finished the project with flying colors. Most of the students that I worked with have all moved to private industries, and they are doing well.
What advice would you have for prospective educators?
Become a self-learner. Don’t hate math; embrace it. Even if you don’t want to solve the equations, try to understand what the equation is telling you. Try to make learning an enjoyable task. Try to mimic others first—you will become a master soon. Find creative ways to get motivated. Listen to podcasts when you are not working. Lastly, I would recommend working with a group of like-minded students.