Sangeetha Omprakash Kandoi

Sangeetha Omprakash Kandoi is a UCSF postdoctoral scholar who has been a mentor in SEP’s High School Intern Program since 2019.

What do you do at UCSF? How long have you been here?

I’m a Postdoctoral Scholar in the lab of Deepak Lamba and have been here since August 2018. The goal of our research is to find potential therapies for curing blindness due to inherited retinal degeneration diseases. Stem cells are a very powerful tool for doing such retinal research. Our lab is affiliated with both the Department of Ophthalmology and the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF.

When did you first begin working with SEP as a mentor in the High School Intern Program? What drew you in to participate?

I first started working as a mentor for the High School Intern Program in June 2019. My lab mentor, Dr. Lamba, referred me to this program. From then onwards, I spend a significant part of every summer mentoring in this program. We missed having this program in 2020 due to COVID, but we came back stronger with a hybrid schedule in 2021 which turned out to be a great success. From last year, 2022, we are now back with in-person mentoring, like the pre-COVID times.

When I first mentored in 2019, I really liked the way this program was projected to me. The agenda of the program was so well-structured with tons of both knowledge/career development and fun-filled activities for 8 weeks. So, I wanted to gain this as a one-time experience. But my first experience was so good that I have continued as a mentor every year, and I plan to do this as long as I have the opportunity to do so.

Did you have previous mentoring experience?

Yes! Mentoring is one of the most wonderful skills I have developed since my undergraduate school days.

Did you have mentors in your life that helped you get into science?

Totally Yes! The very first people who created an absolute fascination for ‘Science’ in me were my High School Science teachers. That positive impact probably makes my heart draw an emotional affinity for the SEP High School Intern program.

What is your favorite part about mentoring high school students in this program?

It’s a bunch of things – First, we build a relationship of ‘friendship’ by connecting with their ‘innocence,’ which triggers a trip down memory lane of my own journeys. Second, we collaborate as a team to lay down short-term quick goals & experiments. Third, we work on it with commitment & clear communications. Finally, we make them showcase their talents where they give FANTASTIC presentations (both oral and a poster). This way we celebrate the success together at the UCSF SEP High School Intern Poster Session.

How have you grown as a mentor?

Incredibly beautiful feeling I would say! Tapping the potential of my mentees to advance their careers gives me a personal sense of satisfaction knowing that I was able to help in a small little way and bring sunshine in their lives.

What have you learned from your mentees?

Simple joys of life – like simplicity, curiosity, liveliness, enthusiasm, a young mind touch, fresh skills, celebrating small wins, networking, generational differences, lingos & most importantly social media!

What keeps you coming back as a mentor?

I see a better version of me every time I mentor. I get to see my world of science perspectives from my mentee’s eyes/thoughts, which motivates me to do even more BETTER science. I like to pay the society back in the form of mentorship.

My accomplishments at UCSF:

  • 2023- Travel Fellowship, Tree Shrew Discovery Meeting, Jupiter, FL
  • 2023- Postdoctoral Fellowship from All May See Foundation, UCSF
  • 2022- Top ten finalist and People’s choice winner award, UCSF Postdoc Slam Contest,
  • 2022- First prize in Trainee presentation, UCSF Department of Ophthalmology, Research Day
  • 2022- Retina Research Foundation/Joseph M. and Eula C. Lawrence Travel Grant, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), Annual Meeting, Denver, CO
  • 2021- Retinal Degenerations and the BrightFocus Macular Fast TrackSM Travel Fellowship, XIXth International Symposium on Retinal Degenerations Meeting, Nashville, TN
  • 2021- American Macular Degeneration Foundation Travel Grant, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), Annual Meeting, USA (Virtual)

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Elementary School Programs

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