An Interview with Dr. Swarkar Sharma, Assistant Professor Department of Biotechnology
Dr. Swarkar Sharma is an Assistant Professor working in the Department of Biotechnology at the University. Dr. Swarkar Sharma is a Ph.D. from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar and a Postdoctoral fellow from Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, Dallas, Texas, USA. His specialization is in the field of Human Genetics. Dr. Swarkar Sharma shares his ideas & thoughts with us.
Dr. Swarkar Sharma, many thanks for taking time out and speaking to us. Sir, tell us a little bit about your Academic and Research background?
Dr. Swarkar Sharma: Thank you for this interview! I had my schooling from Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Poonch and higher secondary from Govt. Higher Secondary School Poonch, J&K. After that, I had B.Sc (Zoology Hons.) from Delhi University and then opted for M.Sc. Human Genetics followed by Ph.D. in Human Genetics from Department of Human Genetics, Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar. During my Ph.D., I explored Genetic Diversity and Type 2 Diabetes Susceptibility in Different Population Groups of Northwest India. This exposure in the field, helped me secure a postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Genetics in a National Institute of Health, USA funded research project in Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, Dallas, Texas, USA. During this fellowship, I had privilege to work with highly reputed scientists in the field across the globe and I participated in various international research projects. I still continue to do research in collaboration with many of these outstanding international teams.
Sir, Can you tell us a little bit about the field of Life Sciences in general and the current research areas? What are the Career options for students in these fields currently?
Dr. Swarkar Sharma: Life Sciences altogether is a versatile field and in general connects studies of all living beings together. It includes classical areas of biology like Botany, Zoology, Medical sciences, Veterinary sciences, Agricultural sciences, Environmental sciences as well various other advanced fields like Biotechnology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry etc. In recent years, interdisciplinary areas have immerged as per the need of the time like Bioinformatics, Biomechanics, Biophysics, System Biology and so on, which actually are conglomeration of various other sciences and engineering fields with Biology. With recent thrust towards better life of Human being, huge investment is been made towards healthcare, life style, and better environment, and in all these Life sciences is playing a critical role. The most prominent and promising career option in any field of life sciences is pursuing research, be it at the academic level or industrial level. With recent emphasis on personalized medicine, new horizons are opened and better and promising research opportunities are opening up worldwide. India is also picking up and gearing towards it. Huge and many entrepreneur ventures in the biosciences related fields are coming up which in due course will create more job opportunities. Various state Governments are introducing advanced biology courses at school, college and university levels as well as in other organizations creating job opportunities. In short, career in biological sciences is promising as it is still in development phase and opportunities will grow with time.
What are the current research projects that you are working on? What are the research areas that the Department is focusing on?
Dr. Swarkar Sharma:According to me, our department of Biotechnology is the best in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and I see it amongst the top 5 in the northern India; be it the infrastructure academics or expertise of the faculty. The department has wide research areas that span from organic chemistry to various biology subjects. The prominent ones are Microbiology, Plant Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Cell & Molecular Biology and Human Genetics & Genomic Medicine. My research is mainly in the area of Human Genetics. We are working on different projects sponsored by various national funding agencies like UGC-GoI, DST-GoI. We are trying to understand genetics of various rare disorders in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which are yet not identified or characterized as well as the genetic mechanisms of common human disorders like Type 2 diabetes and various cancers. In addition to that, through an international project from National Geographic Society USA, we are also trying to find answers to some interesting questions like how the human population of Jammu and Kashmir originated and to what extent we are related to each other as well as other Indian and world populations.
Sir, what is your impression about the students here at SMVDU and what is your advice to them for achieving success in their career?
Dr. Swarkar Sharma:I see huge potential in the students of SMVDU. They are good in academics and other activities as such; very active and are always bubbling with new and innovative ideas. However, what I find lacking is interdisciplinary exploration. Though, it is very common practice in advanced countries like USA and Japan, very few institutes in India have this environment where such wide technical streams coexist and in addition one can have opportunity to understand social perspectives through arts philosophy and culture. My suggestion to them is to exploit these opportunities to find problems and target issues through interdisciplinary research. This approach in due course will help them to work in interdisciplinary groups, have practical knowledge and develop skills to handle situations, the key to success in present world as well as qualities job providers want in addition to an academic profile.
Dr. Swarkar Sharma, What is your advice for achieving success in the mission and vision of SMVDU?
We all are working in harmony and with positivity, be it students, teachers or any other member of the institution. We continue to contribute our level’s best, without any doubt will succeed in the mission and vision of SMVDU in short time.
Dr. Swarkar Sharma: Sir, Many thanks for sparing your precious time to speak to us and for advising the students.
Dr. Swarkar Sharma: It was all my pleasure, Thank you!