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Student Profile: Raj Pingali

How did you decide on majoring in  an offbeat and unconventional career such as Biochemistry?

During biology class in high school, I enjoyed learning about organic molecules and their interactions within the body, such as G-protein pathways. It was interesting to learn that at our basis, we’re just a bunch of molecules that touch each other to produce a response. This was much more interesting to me than learning about the larger-scale aspects, such as the fact that the kidneys filter blood. I was actually learning the reasons behind these things.

What has been your favorite class thus far at UT, and why?

Genetics (BIO 325H). This class expanded my knowledge of my body’s functions and the lectures were very organized, so each system was broken down precisely. I thought it was very interesting to learn about our visual system, the way photons enter our eyes and trigger pathways that eventually lead to our brain interpreting these signals to create perceived images and movement. This is generally a class most people take as “just another bio class,” but it gave me a greater appreciation for all the intricacies involved in the human body and made me realize the relevance of what I was learning to everyday life and to my future career goal in medicine.

How do you feel about the possibility of building a medical school in Austin?

I think it’s great for the culture of Austin. I believe it will bring a plethora of benefits not only to the college but also to the city: it will be close to the university as an easy transition for pre-meds, more people will be given the opportunity to enter the field of medicine, it will provide greater and cheaper care for people in and around Austin, and ultimately create a better healthcare network in the city.

Has coming to UT changed your perception on anything?

UT is known for its diversity, and as such, I was introduced to new modes of thinking. Growing up in Austin, I was surrounded by a liberal culture. Coming to UT has given me the chance to engage with those of other (political) views such as those of conservatives and libertarians. UT has not really changed my views in one way or another, but meeting these new people have given me a chance to look at things from another side of the spectrum. There is no one right way of thought, and being able to expand my ideas outside of the box that I grew up in has made me a more well-rounded person.

What is one important thing you think people should know about you?

My personal philosophy is that you should be allowed to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t hurt another living person.