Student Spotlight - Meet Isha Jain! Chemical and Physical Biology, Harvard 2012
By Kelsey Cruz
Having won $100,000 by the age of 16, worked in a crystallography lab in Germany as a 20-year old, and graced the pages of Glamour as one of the magazine's top 10 college women of 2011, what's left for Isha Jain to conquer? Turns out, a lot.
While many would consider prestige a sufficient reason for attending Harvard University, Jain's college choice was primarily science-related: she eats, sleeps, and breathes biology.
“I chose Harvard because of the resources and labs that are at my disposal,” Jain explained. “Since my dream job is to have my own lab, I figured this would be the best place to start.”
As a senior Chemical and Physical Biology major at Harvard, Jain ('12) has thoroughly enjoyed her studies as they have allowed her to take advantage of the breadth of subject matter in the sciences. For example, Jain takes classes in chemistry, biology, and computer science – all of which have counted toward her major.
“I really like the idea of combining different sciences towards the end goal of understanding biology,” Jain explained. “Biology has a lot of interesting and important questions in terms of disease and healthcare, and it’s cool to draw information from other subjects for its study.”
Jain has studied biology since her freshman year of high school. By the time she was 16 (just old enough to drive legally in her home state of Pennsylvania), the research from her first biology project yielded evidence that bone growth in zebra fish occurs in a pulsating manner. Having applied her findings to identifying the cause of children's growth spurts, Jain won the prestigious Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology in 2007. Thanks to her zebra fish analysis, Jain took home much more than just a blue ribbon and high praises: for her graduate-level work, she was awarded a $100,000 scholarship, most of which she used to pay for her college tuition.
“It's extremely important to have a science magazine that is dedicated to women” -Isha Jain
The quintessential Renaissance woman, Jain has since then gone on to achieve an impressive resume of scientific accomplishments. She spent her summer between high school and college working in a crystallography lab at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology in Dortmund, Germany. At Harvard, Jain's research has led her to study how DNA structure regulates circadian gene expression in bacterial species. Most recently, Jain's success has caught the eye of readers outside of the scientific community. In the 2011 October issue of Glamour, Jain provides an equally pretty face to pair with her sharp mind.
Throughout high school, Jain was often the only female taking a computer science class or competing in a math league. However, despite the numerical disparity in gender, she sees the sciences as naturally being a field in which women could excel.
“It was a little unsettling [to be the only girl], but I don't think I've ever experienced any direct gender discrimination,” Jain said. “For the most part, I think science is gender-blind. I think people overlook anything about you as a person when it comes to science.”
Although Jain has never personally had an issue with the gender divide, she understands the relevance of W.I.S.E. Words Magazine and the voice it represents.
“It's extremely important to have a science magazine that is dedicated to women,” Jain said. “Some science magazines will once and a while print an article about women in science, but it's not the focus of their publications.”
Although she has already accomplished so much, Jain is excited for life after Harvard. She has gleaned so much information from college and hopes to continue her work in the biology field.
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About the Author
Kelsey Cruz is a Magazine Journalism major at Temple University in Philadelphia. Although she always struggled with anything science-related in school, she is fascinated by the intelligence and determination of scientists. She strongly believes in WISE Words Magazine and its vision and hopes its message can influence scientists and women everywhere.