Gagandeep Singh Brar is a PhD student at North Dakota State University in Insect Molecular Biology. He is studying the alfalfa leafcutter bee, Megachile rotundata. Gagan’s research is focused on examining the maternal effects on diapausing and non-diapausing individuals through DNA methylation using bisulfite sequencing. He is also interested in evaluating the effect of gut microbiome in the context of diapause.
Brar knew he wanted to be a scientist back home in Punjab. As a young man he enjoyed exploring his family farm and its basic challenges. In 2015, swarms of the whitefly managed to destroy two-thirds of the cotton crop in the cotton belt of Punjab. Brar witnessed the economic devastation the farmers of the region suffered, which ultimately added to each owners farm debt. He was aggrieved when he saw helpless farmers ploughing their cotton fields during the season due to the whitefly’s successful crop destruction. All this was due to extensive use of insecticides, which led to selection for resistance mechanisms and failure of existing management strategies. It further necessitated that new pest management tools, such as: transgenic plants, biopesticides and biorational approaches, be developed with an aim to cause minimal effect to non-target organisms. This increased Brar’s curiosity to study more about insects and motivated him to pursue a M.Sc. in Entomology from Punjab Agricultural University. After completing his M.Sc., Brar found himself wanting to continue his education by pursuing his PhD. Brar is focused on gaining more knowledge and skills while working on his PhD at NDSU. He then hopes to return home to serve as an agricultural scientist. Brar loves to interact with farmers and listen to their stories about agriculture and how it’s changing. He’s learned many things which always sparks his mind and curiosity. Brar takes this knowledge to the lab to learn and study more.
Brar’s masters advisor, Dr. Satnam Singh, taught him that no matter how intelligent and/or smart you are; passion, hard work and a love for research will always clear the road for achievement and success in your career. Brar feels that these words of wisdom have brought him from the small village of Punjab to the United States to study and pursue his PhD.
If Brar had not chosen a career in science, he would have pursued a career as a football player and changed his name to ‘Gags’. He would have joined Real Madrid, one of the European football clubs, and played many La Liga matches with Cristiano Ronaldo and would have beaten FC Barcelona in the finals every time!
Brar’s favorite quote for Insect Molecular Biologists is, ‘We build toys. Some toys can change the world.’