Leena BharathAssistant Professor, Health Sciences
HSC2300C-B Intro to Nutritional Sciences
In this edition of “Fast Five: Quick Q&As with Members of the Merrimack Community,” we talk to Leena Bharath, who teaches biology in the School of Health Sciences. When she’s not examining the natural world through her microscope, she likes to go hiking to get a macro view.
Fast Five Q&A with Leena Bharath
What initially drew you to biology?
To me, biology is like astronomy. The cell is as complex as the universe—it’s so vast and fascinating. The complexity and mystery that live in our cells is what really drew me in. Figuring out how they operate is like detective work.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
College students are at the age where they’re starting to make big life decisions, but they don’t always know their options. As a teacher, I can help them discover different fields and career paths. I really enjoy that.
What is your advice to Merrimack students?
My advice is that if you really want to make a contribution to society, find a field that you’re passionate about and pursue it. Study hard to develop wisdom, not just find a job.
Your research focuses on mitochondrial stress. Can you give us a brief description?
The mitochondria makes energy for your body—it’s the powerhouse of the cell. But over time, the stresses of life start to break it down. I’m trying to see if this breakdown promotes aging-associated inflammation, which could lead to the development of diseases such as diabetes. Ultimately, I’m less interested in improving the human lifespan than in trying to improve the human “healthspan,” the length of time in which people are healthy.
What do you do to relieve your own stress?
Outside of work, I love hiking. I hike all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I love reading, too. I read a lot of theology, but I also really enjoy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes has been my favorite since I was a little girl.
Leena is teaching her popular course Introduction to Nutritional Sciences (HSC2300C-B) during Merrimack’s Summer Session.