The Division of Life Sciences is excited to spotlight Haider Ali Bhatti, Biological Sciences Alum (Class of 2016), currently working on his PhD at University California at Berkeley. Passionate about STEM education and driven by his own experiences at Rutgers, he has made it his mission to make STEM education more accessible.
Tell me about yourself:
Hello! I’m Haider Ali Bhatti, but I just go by Ali. I’m a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley in the Science and Math Education program, informally known as SESAME. Prior to this, I got my Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and then went on to get my Master's in Biological Science Education at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. After graduating, I taught high school biology and also worked at Khan Academy as a biology content fellow.
How did you become interested in science?
I became interested in science back in high school. I had the privilege of going to Bergen County Academies, a fantastic magnet school in Hackensack, NJ. As a high schooler, I had to take a lot of biology courses and these courses were great because they were taught by teachers who had PhDs in the life sciences. I was constantly exposed to really rigorous, research-based curricula that made science, specifically biology, so fascinating to me! I became obsessed with understanding the biological details of everything, which then led me to major in biology at Rutgers.
What made you interested in improving STEM education?
I became interested in improving STEM education after coming to Rutgers. For me, the transition to college-level biology was seamless because of the great preparation I got from high school. However, I saw so many of my peers start as STEM majors but then drop out of STEM altogether after struggling in the big intro courses like Gen Bio, Gen Chem, Gen Physics. To me, these courses should motivate and inspire you to pursue STEM, but so often, this is not the case, especially for students from nondominant backgrounds. With this in mind, I became interested in teaching and got a position as a student instructor for Gen Bio with ODASIS. Eventually, I wanted a way to reach a lot more students and make my resources a lot more accessible. My roommate at the time, a student in the Business School, told me to make a website and charge students to use my resources. I listened to his advice...but made the website completely free and boom, www.BIALIGY.com was born! The Daily Targum wrote about the website back in 2016 here: https://dailytargum.com/article/2016/09/rutgers-graduate-students-create-online-resource-for-biology-students
Any advice you would want to pass on?
My main piece of advice is to find and pursue your passion. Sometimes you'll have to search for it and that's okay. It may take some time, but I can assure you, once you find it, it's such an amazing feeling to spend each day pursuing it! And the great thing about pursuing your passion is that your pursuit never really ends. It's always something you're doing, improving, developing, advancing...the grind never stops!
Anything else you want to include:
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my faith (Islam), my family, and my friends. So much of who I am comes from my mom, Nabilla Bhatti, who suddenly and unexpectedly passed away during my first year of grad school at Berkeley. But through the lessons she and my dad taught me and through my devotion to faith, I've been blessed with the ability to persevere through adversity and pursue my passion. As I like to say, I'm desperately passionate about my work and I'd like to thank Rutgers and DLS for providing me with such a great foundation to my career as a future STEM education scholar!