NAS appoints new faculty member, Dr Jarishma K Gokul

Posted on February 19, 2021

Dr Jarishma K Gokul, lecturer and Microbiome Group leader in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, tells us about her research focus on microbial ecology and microbiomes.

Q: What is your role at the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences?
A: I am a lecturer in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences (DePSS), and am based in the Plant Pathology research group. I have enjoyed mentoring and supervising amazing postgraduate researchers at DePSS and the Department of Biology, Genetics and Microbiology, and look forward to the next phase: contributing to the scientific curiosity, motivation and enthusiasm of the bright young undergraduates that I will interact with in the coming years. My research focus is on microbial ecology and microbiomes, and involves the expansion of these approaches in soil-seed-plant-food-health microbiome interaction for adaptive research and innovation.

Q: As a new staff member at UP, what stands out for you?
A: UP is steeped in a successful history of growth and development, and has achieved great regional and international accolades. UP and NAS have been steadily working towards meeting the WHO Sustainable Development Goals and the impacts on health and well-being for the citizens of the world – I am particularly keen on contributing to this in some way, big or small.

Q: What qualities do you think a good employee should have to be successful?
A: My opinion of success is that one needs to have the right balance of everything to be both efficient and effective at what one does, whether at work or at play. Balance in soft and hard skills is essential in the work sphere as it highlights technical prowess and the ability to share it and expand upon it in a professional but kind manner.

Q: What is your life philosophy?
A: I believe in a holistic-systems approach to life and science, and everything in between. To me, this encompasses a complete, entire view of a system, the actors within it, and how everything interacts and works together. It ultimately creates a better understanding of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, but with every player being integral to a system's success.

Q: Where did you study and what is your highest qualification?
A: I obtained my PhD in Polar Microbiology and Glaciology from Aberystwyth University in Wales, in 2017.

Q: Where were you previously employed?
A: I joined UP in 2018 as a postdoctoral researcher (DST-NRF Innovation Fellow) at the Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics, where I worked on Antarctic permafrost and marine microbial ecology, as well as vertebrate gut microbiomes. I then went on to a senior postdoctoral position (DST-NRF Scarce Skills Fellow) in 2020, as a new member of the agrifood-health-microbiome team in Plant Pathology.


- Author Martie Meyer

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