Fall 2021 Convocation Spotlight: Pranidhi Baddam, ’21 PhD in Medical Sciences—Oral Biology

Exploring new challenges and new paths key to growth for doctoral graduate.

Tarwinder Rai - 19 November 2021

Pranidhi Baddam’s advice to future students is simple—get involved as much as you can. Baddam, ’21 PhD, says being an active student enriches your academic experience and research. 

“Being involved provides an opportunity to connect and network with a diverse group of individuals, and it allows you to see how decisions are made,” says Baddam. “As a student it tremendously helps you build confidence and interpersonal abilities such as communication and leadership skills.” 

Baddam was involved in many organizations and associations while pursuing her PhD at the University of Alberta. She was a member of the School of Dentistry Student Research Group, the Graduate Students Association and the School of Dentistry Student Affairs Committee, and an organizing committee member for Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST) for their 35th anniversary. Baddam received 19 different awards and prestigious scholarships, including the Queen Elizabeth II scholarship, 75th Anniversary Graduate Student Award, Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship, Violet Winona Kilburn graduate scholarship, NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship-Doctoral, the President’s Doctoral Prize of Distinction, and the Andrew Stewart Memorial Graduate Prize.

Read more about Baddam’s journey at the U of A.

What advice do you have for future grads?

Consider graduate school as your way to explore and develop yourself and your abilities. I highly recommend getting involved in opportunities that build you not just as a scientist, but also as an individual, as this will set you up for success. Lastly, I also encourage everyone to challenge themselves to take on things that they may initially feel uncomfortable to do.

What lessons have you taken away from your time at the U of A?

Everyone has their own path and we shouldn’t compare our progress with that of others. Always strive to do better than what you did yesterday, and help is always available—but you need to ask for it. Another important lesson I learned was to explore opportunities that may seem like they would distract you from your end goal, because most of these opportunities will open new avenues that you were unaware of. 

What did you enjoy most at the School of Dentistry?

I have had an amazing graduate-school experience. I was able to collaborate with other researchers, voice concerns about graduate-student issues freely, and overall, connect with students from diverse backgrounds. If there is one thing I enjoyed most, it would have to be the congeniality of the faculty, staff and students.

What research accomplishments do you take most pride in from your time at the U of A?

An aspect of my PhD research that I am most proud of would have to be the in-depth characterization of the Bmp7 mutant mouse model, as it is the first of its kind to demonstrate in an interdisciplinary way the multifactorial etiology of airway obstruction using methodology such as micro-CT, plethysmography and metabolomics. Another research finding that I am proud of would be the rescue of the nasal septum deviation in the Bmp7 mutant mouse. These findings are a result of collaborative efforts and tremendous help and support from my supervisor Dr. Daniel Graf, members of the Graf lab and various other collaborators.

What’s the next chapter for you?

For the next three years, I will be pursuing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Boston under the supervision of Dr. April Craft. My research project will investigate the molecular regulation underlying lineage commitment of knee articular cartilage.

I wanted to gain some international experience in conducting research as most of my research experience comes from Canada. I also wanted to further develop my expertise in cartilage biology by working on other cartilages such as the knee. Furthermore, I want to receive additional technical training in cartilage bioengineering and bioinformatics to complement the technical training I have already received during my PhD.