My journey to becoming a scientist has been interwoven with figuring out my sexuality, and while complicated, and turbulent, it has been worthwhile and fulfilling. As a queer, colored, immigrant woman, finding my place in science has taken determination, diligence, patience, and tolerance. Nonetheless, science has always led my way, taking me places, and providing opportunities to grow both intellectually and personally, driving me to do better and be better. 

Growing up in a non-science, catholic family in Mumbai, I didn’t have much exposure to science. My love for science began in school, when I became fascinated with biology, after learning about different systems in the body. After high school, defying the expectation of entering medical or engineering school, I decided to pursue a basic science degree. Not knowing where it would lead but wanting to get a deeper understanding of cell processes, I chose Microbiology and Biochemistry as my majors. In my last year, metabolism piqued my interest and with a family history of diabetes, I opted to do an assignment on AMPK, a master metabolic regulator. To get access to full AMPK-related papers, I naively emailed the author. Little did I know, this communication would lead to an internship and then a PhD in Japan. 

As would become a pattern in my life, I just followed the science, and it broadened my knowledge from biochemistry to neuroscience and physiology. It took me from India to Japan to New Zealand and then San Diego. Science has forced me to be open to new challenges, pushing me outside my comfort zone. When it was time to choose my career path, the option to do science that would be translational with the potential to help people, made me decide to be a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry.

Moving to a new position and place wasn’t always easy, but it expanded my scientific knowledge and skills. It also taught me that I can do anything if I believe in myself. Additionally, I learned it was okay to ask for help and that it didn’t mean I was weak. The support of family and friends is what got me through the tough times. 

In the past, to fit in, I hid parts of my identity, from fear of judgement or discrimination. It has taken time and self-work to embrace my identities. In fact, learning about the brain helped me accept my sexuality as a beautiful and intrinsic part of my being. I have never been able to fit the mold, nor follow a traditional path in science or marriage. What I know is that living authentically and following my passions, brings me happiness, making it the right and only path for me.