February 8th, 2022

Maria Kulapurathazhe

The first day of school is something that I have always looked forward to for as long as I can
remember. Catching up with friends during lunch, writing on the first page of a new notebook,
trying not to look lost on the way to class – these are just some of the small things that make me
have a crazy smile on my face for the entirety of the day.

For obvious reasons, this past first day of school was like no other. After saying goodbye to my
roommates and the city after a fleeting six months as a college freshman, I returned to NYU
Tandon as a junior with eyes set on graduation.

Research Assistant, Maria Kulapurathazhe

Even stepping foot on campus again and exchanging small talk with classmates seemed surreal
after months of virtual backgrounds and disconnected Zoom chat messaging. With everything
around me seeming to have gone through a radical change in the last year and a half, I couldn’t
help but wonder how my experiences over the pandemic would manifest in the fall.

One of the few constants I had though this year was my time in the Montclare Lab. For the past
three months, I was able to fully immerse myself in the day-to-day activities of a bioengineer and
scientist. From figuring out how to analyze different temperature scans to running gel
electrophoresis and even growing used to the distinct smell of bacteria cells, the last few months
were a whirlwind of finding my footing in a field I am beginning to realize my growing passion

Just as thrilling was being able to see everything I had learned in the lab come together in all my
classes from the first day onward. Sitting in Molecular Biology lecture reminded me of my first
few days in the lab when I first went through the process of expressing never-before-seen
proteins. Every lecture in my Tissue Engineering class so far has left me amazed at the
possibilities made available with all the different biomaterials I was lucky enough to experiment
with over the summer. Even while sitting in my journalism classes, my go-to topics to write
about have always revolved around finding ways to make science and medicine more accessible
through writing.

Despite the unpredictability of the last year and a half, my first three weeks back in school have
reassured me that the “new normal” might have more to offer than what I had earlier imagined.
Being able to work in such an environment with one of the craziest global health crises
happening was the wake-up call I needed to see what I want to do for the rest of my life. As I
continue working in the lab over the course of the semester, I can’t wait to see what new things
continuously come up to excite and inspire me.