Amazing Students

Apurba Banerjee

As a Ph.D. student in FACS, Apurba Banerjee has been active in several organizations since the day she arrived. And her academic work in the department of textiles, merchandising and interiors will allow her to pursue her passion about implementing sustainability in every aspect of life.

Hometown:

Kolkata, West Bengal, India

High School:

Vasant Vihar High School, Thane, Maharashtra, India

Degree objective:

Ph.D. in polymer, fiber and textile science

Other degrees:

M.S. in apparel and merchandising (textile science concentration), Colorado State University (2013)
B.Tech. in textile processing, Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, India (2011)

Expected graduation:

December 2017

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

When I first arrived at UGA, I was not expecting it to be such a large campus. Getting lost on campus trying to find a building had become a daily routine, but through that experience I learned how to motivate myself to find a path to my destination. Learning early the perks of getting involved on campus. I was encouraged by my mentor, Dr. Suraj Sharma, to be the chapter president of the UGA chapter of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC). When active, this chapter helped textile science and fashion merchandising students to interact with working professionals in the textile industry and learn from their experiences and gain access to the AATCC competitions, scholarships and awards. As a student member of AATCC, I have participated in its International Conference since 2013 and won several awards for presenting my research in the Herman and Myrtle Goldstein Student Paper Competition.
Being a graduate student at a research-intensive university is both a challenging and rewarding task. To provide graduate students adequate support, a platform to voice their concerns and develop camaraderie among themselves, we founded the Graduate Student Association at the TMI department, where I served in leadership positions (vice president and treasurer) for two years.

The College of Family and Consumer Sciences is a home away from home for me. It has not only helped me nurture my leadership and organizational skills (I participated in the FACS Leadership Retreat) but also provided immense encouragement in the form of awards, scholarships and recognition such as the Endsley Piefer Student Research Award, Jones Anderson Family Scholarship, Dr. Theresa Perenich-TMI Graduate Support Fund and Eleonora Costa Graduate Support Fund. The college provides every student an environment that is conducive to progressive and critical thinking, an environment where challenges are embraced and overcome with grace and fortitude and instills in us to be compassionate and thankful to our mentors when we achieve fame and glory. I highly recommend everyone to meet our awesome dean, Linda Fox, because she embodies everything there is to be a true FACS-ite!

The Graduate School at UGA provided me with several professional development opportunities through programs such as Emerging Leaders and I was able to further hone those skills by leading the outreach team of the annual Graduate Student Conference called Interdisciplinary Research Conference in 2014 and 2015. I have also been the recipient of Graduate School awards — Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, University of Georgia Excellence in Graduate Recruitment Fund Award and was nominated for the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges in 2015 and 2017.

The Indian Student Association is a student organization under the umbrella of International Student Life that helps incoming and current Indian students to maintain their cultural identity and assimilate the Athens culture by providing initial and continued support to the students in the form of housing, cultural festivities and a close knit community of Athens families and friends. The association welcomed me to the university by providing a lot of vital resources, and in order to extend the same helping environment to new incoming students, I joined the leadership team of ISA (2014-2015) as public relations officer and as the vice president in 2015-2016. The strong relationships that I developed with the international student community has to date been one of my best experiences at UGA and it was further fortified when I was part of the team that represented UGA at the Georgia International Leadership Conference in 2015.

Recently I led a discussion at the Office of International Education called Discussion Without Borders, where I was able to share fun and interesting facts about my home country, India, and give a millennial’s perspective of studying abroad in the United States.

Current Employment:

Graduate Teaching Assistant – Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors, UGA
Material Scientist – Brrr! Inc., Atlanta, GA

Family Ties to UGA:

I am the first of my family to come to this country to pursue my higher studies and found a home at UGA. I’m definitely not going to be the last one.

I chose to attend UGA because…

… UGA is the only leading university in the Southeast to house a department that does interdisciplinary research in polymers, textiles and fibers. My master’s advisor at Colorado State University, Dr. Ajoy Sarkar, highly recommended his alma mater, the department of textiles, merchandising and interiors, because of its dedicated faculty and up-to-date research facilities.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

I love walking around North Campus and discovering a new corner or a hidden garden (the Latin American Ethnobotanical Garden was a pleasant surprise). The turtle pond near the ecology building is my favorite lunch spot and the Creamery is a real treat for the days that I need a pick-me-up. I like the Tate Student Center Plaza because of the flurry of activities that keeps life as a graduate student very interesting.

When I have free time, I like…

I have a newfound love for photography, so I gravitate toward going on walks, hikes and exploration trips to several state and local parks in Georgia and its neighboring states. My favorite place to explore thus far has been Cloudland Canyon State Park in North Georgia. On a more day-to-day basis, I love going on a run or walk on the trails around Lake Herrick with my year-old pup, Cooper.

The craziest thing I've done is…

On a road trip to Yellowstone National Park from Colorado, we chanced upon a baby bear on one of the roads in the park and had to almost hold our breath till the mama bear came and retrieved her offspring from our path.

My favorite place to study is…

The science library is my favorite place to study. I love the atmosphere and am motivated to concentrate better. Plus, the staff there is super helpful and friendly.

My favorite professor is…

I have two: Dr. Suraj Sharma for being the most understanding and motivating major professor a graduate student can ever ask for and Dr. Vincent Joseph Starai in the microbiology department, who dedicated so much time and effort into helping me understand the concepts of prokaryotes, which is one of the cornerstones of my research project.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

Being a textile science nerd, I would love to spend an afternoon with Stephanie Kwolek, who is inventor of Kevlar polymer. She has been my inspiration as a woman scientist for a long time.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… try and achieve life’s bigger goals such as abolish human trafficking and make college education more affordable.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

… travel around the world documenting different cultures and traditions. Also, if money was not a limitation, I would like to help educate women in countries where women’s education is undervalued.

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?

I am passionate about sustainability in every aspect of life. Be it sustainable practices, materials, processes or life choices, in order for our future generations to experience the unique gifts that this planet has to offer, sustainability is a key ingredient.

My current research in biodegradable plastics is my commitment to relentlessly pursue sustainable materials and try to make them cost effective. I also plan on incorporating sustainable practices in my workplace and in all future product design plans as much as possible.

After graduation, I plan to…

… work in the textile/polymer industry and then eventually bring all my industry experience to academia as a professor.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

Meeting the world’s leading scientist in biodegradable polymers, Dr. Isao Noda, at a chemistry seminar was one of my most special experiences at UGA.

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