Faces of GIAR: Chhandak Basu

July 21, 2023


Grant: $800 in Fall 2002

Education level at the time of the grant: PhD student

Project Description: 
Thanks to the GIAR funding, I was able to visit and work in the laboratory of Brian Friskensky, Department of Plant Science, University of Manitoba, Canada. As part of my PhD thesis, I evaluated several gene promoters that are suitable for the genetic transformation of plants. I was fascinated to examine gene expression in plant cells at a transcriptome level. However, this was not a direct topic of my research. My major professor was very supportive of my idea to visit another laboratory to learn techniques for studying stress-responsive gene expression in plants. 

As a result, I visited Dr. Friskensky's lab to learn how transcription analysis with cDNA-macroarray can be used to study gene expression patterns after pathogen attack in canola cells. My research involved preparing pathogen-induced cDNA from canola cells and mastering macroarray techniques. Various genes were nonradioactively labeled and hybridized onto membranes containing cDNA from canola cells. In addition to understanding pathogen-induced gene expression in plants, the genotyping data could also be used to develop disease-resistant crops.

How did the grant process or the project itself influence you as a scientist/researcher?
Working in a different lab abroad, outside my familiar environment, was an experience I will never forget. Having this research experience motivated me to become an independent researcher. Within five years of receiving the GIAR fellowship, I attended a weeklong workshop at the University of Arizona, Tucson, to learn microarray. As of now, my lab focuses on transcriptomic-level gene expression studies in plants, and therefore I am indebted to Sigma Xi for granting me the GIAR award.

Where are you now? 
I am currently a professor of biology at California State University, Northridge. As part of my research, I study how plant cells respond to environmental stress at the molecular level. Additionally, I have a research affiliate appointment at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I conduct research at NASA on how microbes survive in hostile environments.

Students may apply for Sigma Xi research grants by March 15 and October 1 annually at www.sigmaxi.org/giar.

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. www.sigmaxi.org. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety