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Botanical Society Talk on 27th June 2017

On the 27th of June 2017, The Botanical Society, held its first programme for the academic year 2017 – 18. The speaker of the programme was Dr. Thara Venkatappa, who is an alumna of our very own college. Ms. Poonam Ahuja, President of The Botanical Society gave the audience a warm welcome and talked about the aspirations for The Botanical Society for the following year. Dr. Betty Daniel, HOD, Department of Botany, introduced Dr. Thara to the audience which comprised of the faculty of the Department of Botany, the students of 1st and 2nd M.Sc. Botany and research scholars. Dr. Daniel stated that she was very pleased to have invited Dr. Thara for a guest talk as she wanted to inspire the audience and make them aware about the field of research that Dr. Thara was working in.



Dr. Thara spoke on the topic, “ Can Botany prepare you for a career in public health ?”. First and foremost, she told the audience that she was very glad to be back in her college after so many years and talked about her days in college. She along with Dr. Jacob Paul were part of the first batch of M.Sc. Botany that graduated out from St. Joseph’s College 30 years ago and also showed the audience a few throwback photos of her college days. After her postgraduate studies, she pondered on her next step and sought help from Dr. Betty, who inspired her to do her Ph.D. Looking back upon Dr. Betty’s words, she told us a heart wrenching story that happened in her life about her cousin who was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and the social stigma that had surrounded her cousin about this deadly disease that prevented her from getting diagnosed and treated for this disease ultimately leading to her death. Thinking back upon this incident, she decided that she must help the society and help people cope up with Tuberculosis. After her marriage, she along with her husband, moved to the State of Hawaii, United States where she worked for 7 years at the Lanakila Health Centre, Hawaii. During her days in Hawaii, Dr. Thara also completed a long distance program in Clinical Psychology from the University of London. According to her work, Tuberculosis is one of the top ten causes for human deaths worldwide. Tuberculosis mainly spreads through air from person to person through a sneeze or cough. Tuberculosis mainly infects the lungs and the abdomen. Tuberculosis is tested in a patient through various tests. One of the tests is the Tuberculin Skin test, but this particular test doesn’t give accurate results. The best method for testing of Tuberculosis is the Rapid Sputum Test, where the mucus from the patient’s lungs is tested for the presence of the bacteria. She also talked about the strict policies and regulations that the Western countries have put in place to check the spread of this disease. In the West, A test for Tuberculosis is mandatory if a person who wants to enter the country. India records the most number of cases with an estimated 2.8 million Tuberculosis cases per year and she mentioned about the social stigma that is associated with Tuberculosis, where certain people because of their insecurities refuse to get themselves diagnosed from this deadly disease. She eventually became the Principal Investigator at the Health Centre after a decade of work. Dr. Thara also talked about the vaccines that are being developed for the disease and the increase in their effectiveness in recent years. Reminiscing upon her time in this field of work, Dr. Thara also said that it was due to the constant support by her colleagues, especially Dr. Richard Brostrom, TB Control Programme Manager, Hawaii; and the amazing rapport that she had with her team was she able to succeed. And lastly, Dr. Thara signed off on a beautiful note by saying that, “Teamwork is very important, where each member in the team should do the work that has been assigned to them and at the same time the team must try to help each other in times of need and have a good and healthy relationship with each other”. After Dr. Thara answered a round of questions from the audience, Ms. Poonam Ahuja, thanked Dr. Thara Venkatappa for enlightening the audience and for gracing today’s program with her presence.


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