Farewell Dr. Sitaraman

TOPICS: Faculty and Staff, Research and Fieldwork, Student Success

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

This week the department of Psychological Sciences bids Dr. Divya Sitaraman farewell. Dr. Sitaraman has been an instrumental part of the Psychological Sciences Department for the last five years, specifically in the behavioral neuroscience major. Dr. Sitaraman will continue her research and teaching at Cal State East Bay where she will be closer to her family. 

Students consistently tell me how inspired they are by Dr. Sitaraman’s classes and how she has fueled their passion for neuroscience. Students love her teaching style and comment on her enthusiasm and knowledge. The quality and quantity of research Dr. Sitaraman has conducted over the last two years is absolutely impressive. Neuroscience research moves slowly, especially when it involves live models, such as flies. Nevertheless, the value of her mentorship cannot be overstated. Her students have had incredible undergraduate research exposure in her laboratory, and often speak enthusiastically about this experience. Their appreciation of her mentoring was recognized last year when she received the 2018 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. Dr. Sitaraman has published multiple research articles in reputable journals and presented research, with USD student co-authors, at local and international conferences. She also received a prestigious NIH R15 grant to support her research and student mentorship in her lab.

Dr. Sitaraman consistently demonstrates her support for the mission of USD through her teaching, research, and service. Her teaching and research mentoring show her commitment to advancing academic excellence both in the classroom and in the laboratory. She has been actively involved in creating a diverse and inclusive community through her leadership in the PURE program and her participation as a Changemaker Faculty Fellow. I could not ask for a more supportive, dedicated, and caring colleague to work with each day.

I have witnessed and experienced first-hand the high quality of her research and her scientific pursuits, and I feel fortunate to work with such a dedicated scientist.

- Dr. Jena Hales 

What will you miss the most about Dr. Sitaraman?

I will miss Dr.Sitaraman's energy that she brings to lab. Her passion and vibrancy about her work is something that is passed onto her students' research. - Annette Vo

I will miss the enthusiasm that Dr. Sitaraman has for neuroscience. She explains concepts with such excitement that you can't help but be excited too. Every meeting we had about projects in the lab made me want to get back to work immediately to figure out the answers to her questions. Dr. Sitaraman's love for neuroscience is contagious and will be missed at USD. - Pomaikai Murakami

I will miss seeing Dr. Sitaraman around campus and in lab. Her positivity and enthusiasm always helped brighten my days. Her dedication and passion for her work was always inspiring and motivating, and Cal State East Bay is lucky to have Dr. Sitaraman as a professor and researcher. - Sydney Wong

What have you learned while working in Dr. Sitaraman's lab?

Dr. Sitaraman taught me how important it is to have a passionate leader when conducting research and especially someone who can think on the “fly”. Dr. Sitaraman showed me the value of ingenuity, flexibility, and patience when working as a lab member. - Grace Getchell

I learned how to balance knowing when to trust yourself and seeking help from fellow researchers. It is sometimes required that you do something new by yourself. You should not be afraid and it is okay to make some mistakes. There is a learning curve for researchers. However, with being independent, you should also know when to ask for help. You and your peers are in it together. - Annette Vo 

Working with Dr. Sitaraman was an incredible experience. As a high schooler I had considered a career in science but never really knew how a lab operated or if I would enjoy conducting research. Not only did being a member of her lab teach me what research is really like, but Dr. Sitaraman's passion and encouragement motivated me to challenge myself, and made me feel confident and capable as a woman in STEM. - Catherine Shorb 

What research did you work on with Dr. Sitaraman?

I studied how different methods of sleep deprivation (mechanical shaking, pharmacological treatment, and social isolation) affect male flies decision-making in courtship behavior. I have learned that the different methods of sleep deprivation have varying effects of the underlying neural circuits related to decision-making, and thus, affect courtship behavior in different ways. - Annette Vo 

I learned that the more time and effort you put into a project, the more you get out of it. My research project focused on reproductive fitness in long and short sleeping drosophila melanogaster. I was able to watch my project expand and realized that there were so many fascinating directions that my project could take. It was extremely rewarding to see this project grow and cover so many different aspects of neuroscience that I learned about in class. - Pomaikai Murakami

How did working with Dr. Sitaraman impact your time at USD?

Working in Dr.Sitaraman's lab empowered me to advocate for myself. I learned to not be fearful of not knowing, but to be curious and seek to understand. - Annette Vo 

Working with Dr. Sitaraman this past year has been a pleasure and an honor. Dr. Sitaraman is one of the most intelligent and caring professors that I have had the honor of being taught and mentored by. This research experience has taught me so much about what it really means to do research, and I have genuinely enjoyed every moment of it. Through Dr. Sitaraman, I have found a new passion for doing research, and I am so thankful to her for giving me this rare opportunity; it has greatly impacted my time here thus far at USD. - Sydney Wong

Being a part of Dr. Sitaraman's lab was the highlight of my time at USD. My lab-mates became some of my best friends I met in college, and my research is the work I am most proud of from my undergrad experience. Working in her lab helped deepen my understandings of what I was learning in lectures, as I had almost daily hands-on exposure to some of the systems and concepts covered in class. In addition, being able to connect what I learned in lectures to my own research in order to interpret data was a really fun experience and made me feel that my studying payed off! - Catherine Shorb

Best of luck to Dr. Sitaraman on her next steps, you will be missed. 

Contact:

Monique Aguirre
moniqueaguirre@sandiego.edu
(619) 260-4511

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