Last Updated on August 29, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Title: Multi-talented Researchers Combine Non-academic Interests with their Careers
Vijay Ravikumar, a mathematician and scientist, is breaking the stereotypes of traditional academic pursuits by incorporating his love for puppetry into his work. Ravikumar’s unique approach to communication has been inspiring and engaging the public in understanding complex mathematical and scientific concepts.
Ravikumar’s interest in puppetry blossomed when he responded to an apprenticeship opportunity at Chicago’s oldest puppet theatre. Initially, he had no particular affinity for puppets, but as he spent hours repairing and preparing marionettes for performances, he discovered a powerful tool for conveying abstract ideas to all audiences.
This story is not unique to Ravikumar alone. Many researchers have experienced the benefits of pursuing non-academic jobs and interests, which often lead to valuable insights and skills that shape their personal and professional development.
For instance, imaging scientist Uri Manor gained important multitasking and problem-solving skills while working as a waiter in a restaurant. Additionally, he honed his imaging and editing skills when he worked as a wedding photographer during his graduate school years.
Anthropologist Agustín Fuentes draws a fascinating parallel between cooking and scientific research, highlighting the importance of care and attention to detail in both. These seemingly unrelated interests have contributed to new perspectives and approaches in his field.
Mathematical modeller Adam Kucharski discovered significant similarities between the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2007-08 financial crisis while working in a bank in London. Dealing with uncertainty and understanding how incentives can impact decision-making are common challenges in both fields.
Virologist Marion Koopmans gained valuable insights into the spread of infectious diseases through her experiences working on a farm and later studying COVID-19 in care homes. These diverse experiences have enhanced her understanding of the complexities of disease transmission.
Returning to Ravikumar, he pursued his passion for puppet theatre after earning his PhD but faced a setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, his dedication and talent have led him to an academic job at Azim Premji University, where he will combine his expertise in mathematics education with puppetry.
The stories of Ravikumar and his fellow researchers remind us that pursuing non-academic interests can open up new possibilities and enrich our professional lives. By embracing diverse experiences, these individuals have not only enhanced their own skill sets but also found innovative ways to engage and inspire others in the fields of mathematics, science, and beyond.
In conclusion, the intersection of non-academic interests and academic careers has proven to be a powerful catalyst for personal growth and professional success. Researchers like Ravikumar are shaping the future of their respective fields by blending their unique passions and skills, creating a truly multidimensional approach to their work.