Redmond resident Keya Sen recently received a Fulbright Global Scholar Award to conduct public health research in India, Bangladesh and China.
The work Sen will do in these three countries will be based on work she began at the University of Washington-Bothell (UW-Bothell).
It all started with the crows that roost in the wetlands on the school campus.
In 2014, Sen, a lecturer and scientific adviser at UW-Bothell for the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), set about researching the effects of the pathogen campylobacter in the birds.
This is a bacteria that passes through the animal through its droppings and can affect area water quality, Sen said. In humans, the pathogen can cause illness in humans such as nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. But according to a UW-Bothell press release, the crow may not play a significant role in spreading the disease. Sen, who teaches medical microbiology and investigative biology, has been exploring this hypothesis at the genetic level and will continue to do so once she is in India, Bangladesh and China — seeing if she will find similar results in the crow species in those parts of the world.
According to the release, Sen is very excited by the grant, the chance for global research and the opportunity to extend contacts for the university and her students who are involved in all aspects of the research from gathering field samples to conducting experiments in the lab.
The Fulbright grant allows Sen to travel to up to three countries for her work, for a total of six months. This travel must be completed over the course of three years.
According to its website, the Fulbright Global Scholar Award “provides U.S. academics and professionals with the flexibility to engage in advanced trans-regional research activity or combined teaching/research activity.”
“As a truly worldwide award, U.S. scholars will be able to collaborate and engage in scholarly activities in two or three countries representing two or three world regions,” the site states.
Being selected for the Fulbright award is recognition of academic achievement and an opportunity for the people-to-people diplomacy for which the program was created after World War II, said Natalia Dyba, UW-Bothell’s director of global initiatives at the Student Success Center, in the release.
“The emphasis of the Fulbright program on community involvement resonates closely with UW-Bothell’s 21st Century Campus Initiative,” she said. “I’m excited about the ripple effect of expanded networks and new collaborative projects that our Fulbright awardees bring back to UW-Bothell.”
Sen is the seventh Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant recipient from UW-Bothell.
Her research work begins in mid July when she will travel to India. She will be in Kolkata, working at the country’s National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases.
“It’s a very old institute and a lot of good work has emerged from there,” Sen said.
She will spend two months there, returning stateside in the fall to teach her medical microbiology course.
Then, in January 2017, she will go to Dhaka, Bangladesh to conduct her research work at the University of Dhaka. Again, she will spend two months there. Sen will return to teach her investigative biology course.
Sen’s final research trip to China will be from January 2018 to March 2018. She will be in Beijing, working at the Chinese Academy Of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College. Sen will also spend some time in Guangzhou.
While Sen has lived in Kolkata for six years, she has only spent a couple days in Bangladesh and has never been to China.
She said her forefathers come from Bangladesh and her parents were both born in that country, so in addition to her research work, the upcoming trip will be a good opportunity for her to visit family — mostly during weekend trips as the country is pretty small.
Fulbright also allows two weeks of vacation time for grant recipients and Sen said she will probably use most of that while she is in China since she has never been to that country.
Prior to moving to Redmond and joining UW-Bothell almost three years ago, Sen previously worked for the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration.
Outside of her work, she enjoys dance recitals and reading. Sen also likes to cook and often takes cooking classes whenever she travels.
“I like to try out new recipes,” she said.