Over the course of ten years, sophomore Anamika Ratri has lived in India, Japan, Canada and the U.S. Her parents, both biologists, had science labs in both India and Japan. Her dad was offered a job in Texas where her and her family lived for only six months before moving to Kansas City when she was 11-years-old. Her parents wanted her to be exposed to science at a young age, so, growing up, she spent most of her childhood learning about living things.
“My dad moved here because he got a job in Texas and I was like, ‘Oh yay let’s move to Texas,’ Ratri said. “I was like ‘okay, great, I’m fine with it. But he kind of got tired of Texas. It was probably because of the heat. It was really hot, so we came to Kansas.”
When she came here, she was faced with the task of learning how to speak English. She already spoke Bengoli from living in India, as well as Japanese from living in Japan. Ratri says that moving here wasn’t so bad because she learned English by watching the Disney Channel.
It’s been five years since she has seen some of her family. Ratri says she misses them, but that they are all so diverse that when she does see them, she finds it interesting how they are from the same place but have different traditions and beliefs. Her parents are both Hindu, she is Buddhist, and some of her relatives are Christian and Jewish.
“We have family all over the world. Some of my Aunts live in India. I have host grandparents who introduced us to Japan when we first arrived there,” Ratri said. “I have family in Canada, I have a few in Australia, an Aunt in Spain, and a great Aunt in Italy,”
Since moving to Kansas, Ratri has developed a love for biology like her parents, and now spends the majority of her time after school in her dad’s lab researching different topics and experimenting with bacteria and stem cells. She spends six hours there almost everyday.
“I came up with a cheap solution for cell culture activities,” Ratri said. “Instead of paying $500 to produce food for the plastisists, I emphasized titration by inserting a virus into the FGF and LIF producing cells called fibroblasts. So instead of adding more and more of the expensive solutions, I made a natural process in which the cells are constantly excreting food for the stem cells which they eat without us.”
Her interest in biology comes from wanting to be a doctor. On her down time, she likes to watch surgeries. The best part, she says, is that she finds them so interesting and others find them so gross.
“I go to my dad’s lab frequently over the weekend and after school to help him out with laboratory work, and sometimes I go into the hospital area and help out one of his colleagues with paperwork,” Ratri said. “I know how to make cell cultures, ago plates, bacteria communities––I know how to cultivate those and make cell structures for stem cells.”
Ratri has followed in her parents footsteps, taking honors biology classes at East. She has been in advanced classes since the 8th grade. Ratri says that honors classes have never been difficult for her, and that they are even too easy at times.
Her Honors Biology 2 teacher Kimberly Vannice says that what makes Ratri stand out from her other students is that she always asks questions and wants to know more about whatever they are doing in class.
“She’s bright, she’s on top of things, she’s curious and she always gets things done,” Vannice said. “She is definitely ahead because she is a sophomore taking upper-level classes.”
When Ratri’s friends ask her to hang out, she prefers to stay at home and sleep or study. She says that being around a large crowd of people makes her feel queasy, so she keeps a close-knit group of friends.
“I like to study because I am such an indoor person and my friends have called me anti-social,” Ratri said. “I don’t think I’m anti-social. I think I’m quite social, it’s just that I prefer a small group of people over a gigantic community.”
Ratri wants to attend John Hopkins University and go to medical school to become a doctor. She says that she would really enjoy performing surgeries and helping people. Her parents, she says, are to thank for that.
“Graduate high school, get into college, med school, then doctor,” Ratri said. “That’s the plan.”