We’re taking time to get to know the members of the GSA’s Early Career Scientist Committees. Join us to learn more about our early career scientist advocates.

Md Riajul Hossain
Policy and Advocacy Subcommittee
University of Arkansas

Research Interest

When I was introduced to science in high school, I discovered that biology attracted me the most. This attraction increased as I learned more and more about living beings and biological processes. No surprise that I chose genetic engineering and biotechnology as my undergraduate major. I was fascinated by how genes (functional units of DNA) and proteins (gene products) interact in such a way that together they control all aspects of living processes of an individual life form. I found it amazing that expression of some genes can be controlled simply by modifying the structure of the gene without changing its DNA sequence. Such is the subject of epigenetics, a relatively new field of genetics that fascinates me a lot. In line with this interest, I have worked on chromosome segregation in my past graduate studies, and now I am working on chromatin remodeling in yeast, a model organism in genetics studies. Both the chromosome segregation and chromatin remodeling have intricate connections to epigenetic processes. Chromosome segregation ensures faithful passage of genetic information from parents to offspring while chromatin remodeling helps to dictate which genes will be expressed when and in what situation. Finally, I am interested in how biotechnology can be used to serve humanity by providing solutions in various sectors including environmental, agricultural, and human health. In this regard, I would like to explore how proper science policy and right advocacy can help ensure a fair and equitable use of biotechnology in all aspects of human life and living and benefit everyone in the world.

As a PhD-trained scientist, you have many career options. What interests you the most?

Although, as a PhD trainee, I have options to switch from academia to industry, the teaching profession interests me the most. I feel thrilled introducing students to the concepts in biology and genetics and the amazing genetic architecture that all living organisms possess. It gives me immense pleasure when I believe students are learning from my lectures and lab experiments and are thus preparing themselves as future leaders in biological sciences. Although there has been tremendous advancement in biology over the past decades, we are still far from fighting both infectious and non-infectious diseases. The recent pandemic, deadly cancers, and heart disease cases worldwide are proof of where we stand right now. Therefore, teaching and training the future generation of scientists will help us to have a world not only where there will be no hunger but also where people will live a healthy life. Teaching, therefore, will be a key to achieving these goals of research and innovation, ultimately leading us to create a better future for everyone. That’s why I am so passionate about teaching. Apart from teaching, I would also like to engage myself in science policy and advocacy because, although the scientific discoveries hold promise to provide solutions to different problems that we may face, it is the proper policy and its implementation that can ensure how the benefit of the scientific advancements will be harnessed for common good.

In addition to your research, how do you want to advance the scientific enterprise?

As a faculty member and scientist, I feel that teaching and research are my primary objectives in an academic setting. However, as we strive to make the world a better place every day, we cannot restrict ourselves to the confines of our job. The world and particularly our own countries demand much more from us. Therefore, teachers and scientists should be vocal about the policies that affect the everyday lives of our people. I want to advance the scientific enterprise by educating students about the basic concepts and advanced developments in biological sciences. Additionally, I want to be involved in promoting a cleaner environment and better healthcare at home and abroad. How we set policies and their implementation priorities may impact the health and well-being of the planet and its people. Therefore, creating awareness among the masses and getting involved in policy discussions are crucial for scientists and researchers. For example, a cleaner environment through relying less on fossil fuels can provide a healthier habitat for people. Similarly, limiting the competition on generating devastating nuclear and biological weapons will help make our planet safer by preventing the use of these lethal technologies in warfare.

Another sector I would like to work in and promote is innovation and development tailored to the needs of locals. Every country deals with its own problems and seeks the best possible solution. It is, therefore, the responsibility of scientists, particularly in the developing world, to determine the local problem areas and take steps to persuade people and government to invest in those sectors to develop tailored solutions. For example, dengue fever, which is caused by a mosquito-borne virus, is mainly a problem of developing countries in Asia and Africa and not a major problem in the western world. That’s why it needs special attention from the individual governments to invest heavily in dengue research and try to eradicate the disease. Mass awareness thus will be vital in attaining this goal.

As a leader within the Genetics Society of America, what do you hope to accomplish?

As a member of the Policy and Advocacy Subcommittee of GSA’s Early Career Leadership Program, I hope to learn about the policy and advocacy field within the biological sciences. Apart from my teaching and research skills, I would like to sharpen my communication skills to better pursue this goal. GSA’s writing and science policy courses have been a good starting point. Moreover, by interacting with the policymakers in Washington, I hope to gain real-world experience in dealing with policymakers, specifically in presenting science simply and convincing them to prioritize policies in biological sciences. Also, preparing for interviews and science policy spotlights for the subcommittee has helped me better identify the key facts and figures from science policy documents. I wish to continue exploring the science policies of both developed and developing countries and to see particularly how Bangladesh, my home country, stands along the science policy standard. Finally, using the knowledge gained as a leader within GSA, I want to share my knowledge and skills both at home and abroad and bring awareness to the masses and help develop their own perspectives in science policy measures. This awareness is important not only for the scientists and researchers but also for the public, who will be the ultimate beneficiary of scientific progress and advancements. To achieve this, I plan to write articles in national and international dailies stating the importance of being involved in science policy discussions. Organizing seminars and roundtable discussions will be another priority where scientists and policymakers will get the chance to have dialogues on various issues and the general public will get clear ideas about the position of different stakeholders involved in scientific research and science policy making.

Previous leadership experience

  • Joint Secretary of the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Alumni Association, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh (2018-2019)
  • Secretary of the Fulbright Scholars at the University of Arkansas, USA (2015-2016)
  • Organizer of roundtable seminars, conferences, etc., sponsored by and in association with the popular national English daily newspaper, The Daily Star, Bangladesh (2010-2012)
  • Wrotepopular science articles in the national English daily newspaper, The Daily Star (2010-2012)

Graduate student and postdoctoral leaders from the Early Career Scientist Committees of the GSA.

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