Meet Dr Avinash R Shenoy

What course do you teach on and what is your role?

Dr Avinash R ShenoyI am a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology leading a research group that investigates innate immunity to bacterial infections based within the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology & Infection, Dept of Infectious Disease. I am also the co-lead of the MRes stream on Bacterial Pathogenesis & Infection (BPI). In addition to classroom-based teaching on inflammasomes & innate immunity, I conduct workshops on Biological Statistics and Scientific Writing for the BPI stream, and mentor students on rotations projects. I also lecture on modules in MSc Immunology, BSc Infection & Immunity, and Molecular Basis of Bacterial Infection courses within the Faculty of Medicine.

How has your career led you to teaching?

My philosophy is that teaching and mentoring are as important a part of the scientific endeavour as planning, directing, and executing research. I first realised how much I enjoy teaching after giving a lecture to MSc students during my PhD. Since then, teaching and mentoring have been a fruitful and satisfying experience during my postdoctoral years and as an independent group leader. I feel indebted to my teachers & mentors who sparked and nurtured my own interest in science, and I view my teaching as a way of contributing/giving back. Even though I have a busy research group, I enjoy both classroom- and laboratory-based teaching and hope to ignite students' interest in the topics I cover.

What aspect of the course do you enjoy teaching the most?

The most enjoyable by far is laboratory-based research project mentoring where I get to see the gleam in their eyes, listen to fresh ideas & questions from enthusiastic students new to research at this level, plan & design new experiments, and share the joy (or disappointment) of seeing results from a successful (or failed) experiment! I also enjoy workshops as these are more interactive and involve smaller groups.

What do you hope your students will go on to achieve on completion of this course?

In our course, students get to see the highs and lows of academic research. By becoming embedded within research groups, students experience situations they may not have been in previously, such as working in large collaborative teams, giving seminars with experts in the field in attendance, meeting deadlines, writing technical and non-technical reports, reading and assimilating literature in specialised areas, often all at the same time! I am confident that just like research, which involves discovering the unknown, this glimpse into research life helps students prepare for future unknowns. I hope we empower students to decide the right next steps in achieving their aspirations, which could be a higher research degree like a PhD, bench or non-bench research jobs, data analysis, or something else they love to do. 

What is your favorite part about teaching at Imperial College London?

Undoubtedly it's that we have a smart and diverse student community that is not only engaged with their learning, but also with social and environmental issues. The campus is vibrant and fun because of our students.