University of Calgary

Spotlight on Sustainability: Ranjan Kumar

UToday HomeJanuary 31, 2013

Ranjan Kumar, a PhD candidate in neuroscience and recipient of an Alberta Innovates Health Solutions PhD studentship, has a long list of volunteer commitments. Photo courtesy of Ranjan KumarRanjan Kumar, a PhD candidate in neuroscience and recipient of an Alberta Innovates Health Solutions PhD studentship, has a long list of volunteer commitments. Photo courtesy of Ranjan KumarOne of Ranjan Kumar’s mentors on campus told him that time management is very important for graduate students, a skill that the international student is perfecting through extensive volunteer work in addition to his work in the lab studying dermal stem cells.

Kumar is a PhD candidate in neuroscience and recipient of an Alberta Innovates Health Solutions PhD studentship. He is also very active in the community with a long list of volunteer commitments both on, and off, campus.

“Some are every other week, some are in the evenings or weekends,” he says. “I find time after my work is done to work in the community.”

A lot of that work is with younger students to further their interest in science. Kumar helped organize a neuroscience symposium for high school students, the first of its kind in Canada, and a Let’s Talk Science workshop in Medicine Hat with 800 students coming out to learn about cell biology. He was also part of a team that went to high schools around Calgary to talk about advances in neuroscience.

“I think it’s very important to make the link between science and community,” says Kumar. “We are learning science and we should be in the community as well, we should find some time to engage students in science.”

He has co-supervised several undergrad and one high school student over summer months, arranged seminar speakers and helped organize neuroscience research days. Kumar also volunteers with Career Services at open houses talking with high school students considering the University of Calgary and mentoring grad students through the Center for International Students and Study Abroad (CISSA). He works with the food bank, the Calgary Peace Project and he takes an elderly woman grocery shopping and to medical appointments for the Calgary Seniors’ Resource Society (CSRS).

“Helping her gives me satisfaction,” he says of his work with the Calgary Seniors’ Resource Society. “My parents are in India and I cannot take them out for all those things. Helping her makes me feel good.”

In recognition of his volunteer efforts, Kumar was awarded an Alberta Graduate Citizenship Award in December 2012. But he says his volunteering helps him learn more about his adopted country of Canada, where he hopes to build his career studying and teaching neuroscience.

“I would like to contribute to the field of nerve regeneration and repair to make Canada a global leader, and also to strengthen collaboration with my native country India.”

Spotlight on Sustainability is an ongoing series profiling the work of students, faculty and staff. To submit story ideas please contact the Office of Sustainability.