CARS Conversations November 2014
“The hand bone’s connected to the...silk worm?”
Lathadeui ‘Karuna’ Chintepenta moved more than 8,000 miles from Hyderabad, India, to Dover, Delaware for her present job as a Post Doctorate Research Associate in the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences.
In Kakinada, a town near Hyderabad, Karuna taught graduate level biochemistry and microbiology for 4 years before moving to Hyderabad, India where she worked as a Research Associate and conducted research for a biotech company. Her research focused on isolation and production of a protein “Serratiopeptidase” that is produced by bacteria “Serratia marcescens” which are present in silkworms, which can ultimately heal bone joints. Though Karuna enjoyed conducting research, her desire to return to academia and student interactions led her to seek her PhD in Biological Sciences.
After obtaining her PhD and working on her continuous research, Karuna decided to travel to the United States in search of new approaches and studies in science and technology. She immediately started looking for jobs and found the Marine Biology position posted by Dr. Ozbay, professor in DSU’s Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Karuna says.
As a post doctorate research associate, Karuna manages the labs, and the work of undergrad and grad students; assists research technicians; and writes grants. Along with those duties, she is also responsible for her own research in Blackbird Creek, Delaware, which includes finding the symbiotic microbes associated with native marsh plants; the microbes may help farmers grow crops in drought and other abiotic stress conditions.
At home, Karuna’s full attention goes to her husband Sridhar Mannem, her young son, Teja Mannem, and infant daughter, Sreeja Latha Mannem. She also enjoys listening to Indian music. When asked what she likes about her job she replied, “Everyone here (CARS) is like family. When I came to the United Sates, I left behind my son and family. I came alone and I became homesick. But everyone is friendly.” She also gives a lot of credit to Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay, who is very supportive of her and also gives her tons of encouragement. Karuna also enjoys the various outreach programs available through Cooperative Extension and having access to Dean Dyremple Marsh via his open door policy.