Golden Key Spotlight: Jaishree Subrahmaniam
Jaishree Subrahmaniam has been a Golden Key member since 2011 when she was doing her Bachelors in Botany from Miranda House in University of Delhi in India. With her 10-year anniversary coming up, Jaishree has a Master’s in Botany and recently finished a PhD in Plant Ecological Genomics from INRA (Institut national de la recherche agronomique in Paris, France). Although the way has been tough, Jaishree has succeeded and as an Indian woman in science she knows the concept of resiliency and what it means to never give up when pursuing your dreams.
Jaishree always knew that she had to go abroad to be able to do research in her field. And it was at the TULIP summer school in France that she got the incredible opportunity to start her research in how plants work together.
In her research Jaishree was determined to find out that plants are not just static beings, but they have altruism and help each other when facing challenges. As a woman from India wanting to be a scientist, Jaishree knows what adversity means, so she was ready when her experiments failed during the first two years of her PhD.
“For the first two years I was just failing my experiments, and many told me that maybe plants do not behave like that… but I was stubborn,” she says.
It was not until her final experiments that everything came together, and she succeeded. Jaishree’s research was the first ever evidence that showed plants can identify their neighbors, empathize with them, and provide help when needed.
“They understand the importance of helping your family,” she says. “It made me realize that it is encoded in nature’s design to be kind and empathic towards one another, and that is the only way a species can persist.”
Helping others through adversity has therefore always been a goal for Jaishree, who recently started a mental health group for international academics and volunteers with an NGO that helps South Asian women in Science. Being an advocate for supporting education for girls has always been her passion, starting when she was a high school student in India. Working with many underprivileged families, where education for girls was not a priority, she made it her mission to convince parents that it is worthwhile for their daughters to have an education.
Jaishree has been a major part of helping Asian girls become a bigger part of the scientific community. Through her work with various NGOs she has helped convince many girls that they do belong in science, they do not have to go the traditional way, and that they can change their lives if they want to.
“If we can help each other, we will all benefit from each other. I had many women I looked up to, and I do not just want to be the lucky one who made it. I want to make girls believe that if we can do, so can they,” she says.
Jaishree has reached many of her dreams and goals and has a great message for all Golden Key members who are also pursuing their dreams. She explains that when a plant faces a challenge, they find the strength to grow their roots deeper
“Never give up. Never limit yourself. I was one of these girls, but I made it,” she says. “We must do the same [as the plants]. If you have dreams you want to reach, you will be rejected, you will face challenges, but you need to dig your roots deeper and keep growing.”
This article was written for Golden Key by Julie Poulsen.