Meet a Plant Pathology Graduate Student: Deepak Rajendran

November 10, 2015

Plant Pathology Graduate Student Deepak Rajendran

Deepak Rajendran
PhD Student

Advisors: Dr. Senyu Chen and Dr. Kathryn Bushley

Previous Degrees: Integrated Bachelors and Masters of Technology in Industrial Biotechnology from SASTRA University, Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India

Hometown: Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

What is your research focus? 

I will be focusing on finding a suitable fungal biocontrol agent against soybean cyst nematode and studying the molecular warfare that is involved in it.

What are your favorite fungi?

Those in the genus Fusarium because they have several hosts in both plant and animal kingdoms.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

Singing, driving, cooking, reading fiction and biographies, watching documentaries on history and science

What is plant pathology to you?

A first step toward sustainable food security for the world through the mitigation of waste.

Why did decide to attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota? 

I realized that my two favorite aspects of biology are plants and microbes. By the end of my sophomore year, I knew that I wanted to work with them both. However, I tried my hand at several things including drug discovery, cancer biology but I always found plant pathology articles more interesting than any other published articles. So I applied to a few schools from the Big Ten and got accepted to the University of Minnesota's Department of Plant Pathology. The prospect of working with the biocontrol of nematodes using fungi interested me the most because I could then study the interactions among all the three - plant, nematode and fungi.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time at the University of Minnesota, and what are your goals for the future?

I want to be involved in policy making, working closely with an agrarian economy to improve the quality of lives in that region, with teaching and research being a part of that as well. I am hoping that this PhD will be the right kind of training for that because apart from scholastic opportunities, there are other professional development opportunities at the University of Minnesota that would suit me. For example, the CFANS Mentor Program could help me improve my professional development skills.