Dr. Gargi Bagchi Bhattacharjee is currently a faculty in the Department of Biotechnology, Amity University, Haryana. She is involved in research in the area of Cancer Biology and in teaching and training of undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral students.
After obtaining her doctoral degree from AIIMS, New Delhi, in 2003, she went on to carry out post-doctoral research at Duke University and Boston University, in the USA for almost six years.
She has published her scientific work in many international journals and conferences of repute. She has also written popular articles about current topics of interest in Science.
Gargi is a recipient of several awards including the Woman Scientist Award from DBT BioCare, Sanskrit Pratibha Puraskar, and Joint Enrolment Scholarship from the Government of India for topping the Xth Board exams. She has also received many prizes for vocal music. Currently, she lives in New Delhi with her family.
Textbooks in science usually provide a cut-and-dried description of important concepts which children find difficult to grasp. Dr. Gargi intends to build fictional stories around such themes so that these are enjoyable and familiarize children and adults with everyday concepts in science.
In short words, her aim is to connect with her readers while exploring science in a fun and adventurous way. She wishes to write simple, meaningful stories that will engage the young readers and kindle in them a passion for the pursuit and study of science.
While science does have a huge influence on her, there is another side to her personality. She is not just a writer but an avid reader too, and her favourite authors include Rabindranath Tagore, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Satyajit Ray, Jane Austen, Enid Blyton, and Dan Brown.
When not pursuing her interests in cancer and hormonal research or writing fiction, Dr. Gargi can be seen listening to Indian music, travelling, or reading.
We at bookGeeks got a lucky chance to have a tete-e-tete with the author. Here is what she has to say about her love for books, science, and writing.
|Tells us something about yourself? Who is Gargi as a person? What are her likes and dislikes?|
|Gargi is the girl next door, who wants to present scientific concepts in a simple yet exciting manner that appeals to children as well as adults. Scientific concepts are usually presented in a way which is daunting rather than inviting.
The beauty and sparkle of science often gets tarnished by the rust of big words and deep theories. She wants to appeal to the sense of adventure in children and mix it with science so that children absorb science as a part of life without feeling burdened.
|Tell us about the work that you do in your professional sphere? Do your creative energies find an outlet in your work as well?|
|I am a scientist as well as a faculty at Amity University, Gurugram. My laboratory focuses on hormone signaling in Cancer as well as chemicals which disrupt hormone signaling.
Yes, one has to be creative to do research, especially when you are dealing with microscopic entities. From planning experiments, to scientific communication, troubleshooting, everything takes creativity. But making it fun and comprehensible for children is quite a challenge, which I enjoy.
|When did you first conceive the idea of penning Professor Simplicius and the Mystery of Matter? Who or what served as the motivation behind it?|
|The universality of matter and chemicals has always intrigued me. As a student of Biochemistry, I was always struck by the intricate chemical reactions that happen inside each tiny cell of our body.
During my post- doctoral research, I worked with chemicals of everyday use which impact immunity, reproduction, and nervous system. In other words, they influence the normal chemical reactions in our body.
We often ask ‘What is the Matter’, yet I realised that most of us do not know what the matter is. This made me want to introduce children to the world of matter and chemicals in a fun and interesting manner.
|What does the book intend to achieve? And who are your target readers?|
|The story is meant for simple, pleasant reading for children and adults, with an undertone of science. I wish that readers would be able to identify with some of the characters and may also take up the story in the form of school play etc to generate greater familiarity with these concepts.|
|How much time did it take for you to complete the book?|
|It took me few months to write, but I kept polishing it based on inputs from my daughters (who were among my first reviewers) and ideas that struck me from time to time.|
|What has been your most important learning through the entire publication process?|
| Every now and then, the writer needs to step back and take a look at the content as a reader to be able to critically analyse the merits and demerits of the story. One should also make sure that the reader feels impelled to read till the end.
This is because some stories start with a bang but readers lose interest in between if it is long and winding. Especially, when we are writing for children, the length of the story, the simplicity of language and the end are very important.
|Your writing style – disciplined or spontaneous?|
|I would say ‘inspired’ as I can’t write if I don’t feel inspired. But one does need discipline too to work on it till the end.|
|Tell us about your other interests apart from writing?|
|My other interests include music, food, travel and reading.|
|One thing that you cannot live without?|
|Family and Books are both very important to me.|
|If you had all the money in the world, what would you do?|
|I would definitely use it judiciously so that it can translate into maximum happiness for people all around. Would probably keep some for travel and children’s education, and rest I would use to build something I have been planning for a long time, a sanctuary for the children with special needs.
It would be run by parents of these children so that the interests of the children are always paramount. Parents of specially-abled children have to battle a lot of anxiety, fear, and helplessness for their child and in such an institute/sanctuary they will get support from others who are in a similar situation.
|A few words about bookGeeks.|
|BookGeeks is doing a fantastic job in building a bridge between the Books and the readers. Today people read books less and less due to presence of other modes of entertainment and shortage of time.
In such a situation, Book Geeks highlights the USPs of different books which makes it easier for readers to choose between different books and identify which one they might want to read next.
It is also a very enabling tool for the writer who most of the time remains in obscurity otherwise.
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