Kira Ratan (She/Her)

Undergraduate Student, Columbia University
  • People
  • United States of America

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Leadership & Research Scholar


Columbia University

Laidlaw Cohort Year


Research Topic

Ethnic & Racial Studies Film Studies Gender Studies History Law

Influencer Of


Rooms participated in:

Columbia University

Recent Comments

Jun 10, 2024

Hi Joe-- I'm inspired by your ability to push forward and actively participate in your lab, especially in the midst of protests that likely took up a good chunk of your headspace during this past semester at our own school (as they did mine). The work you're doing seems really fascinating, and I'm so impressed at how you were able to connect the research you conducted last summer to the work you're doing abroad so seamlessly. I'm partially writing this comment because I myself landed in Amsterdam this morning and will be spending the next six weeks in Utrecht (30 minutes outside of Amsterdam). Maybe I'll be able to hear more about your work in person!

Jan 19, 2024
Replying to Yoshino Homma

Hello, I would like to send some questions regarding this project before the information session next week (since I cannot make it for the session). Is this where I can ask my questions? Or, could you indicate the relevant point of contact so that I can ask questions? 

Hi Asha, 

Just following up about confirming the dates for the program? Thank you!

Nov 16, 2023

Huge congratulations @Mrinalini Sisodia Wadhwa! So well deserved!

Jun 30, 2023

Dear Manan, 

Your explanation of the research you conducted this summer analyzing RNA sequencing data, in tandem with laying out the implications of incorporating computer science tools into human biology and learning more about biological systems, makes me hopeful of the future advancements within the field of biomedical sciences. Using computational tools in order to comb through large amounts of data seems like a really amazing way to make progress in experimental phases and learn more about theory in order to apply the science correctly and accurately. Great work, and have a wonderful rest of your summer!

Jun 21, 2023
Replying to Cady Chen

1. The focus of my research has changed dramatically over the course of these past weeks, as I’ve realized how long it takes to develop and execute an analysis pipeline for a single dataset, as well as how many different angles I have to examine a potential finding from before accepting it. Moreover, for every choice I make in my analysis, I have to be able to defend it scientifically. Consequently, I’ve spent these past four weeks focusing on a single question regarding tumor proliferation in response to neuronal activity, and only now, am I starting to pivot to my original research plan to investigate the role of microglia in the tumor microenvironment. In some ways, due to the unexpected time I’ve spent on glioma proliferation, the scope of my research has expanded to explore the role of neurons, on top of microglia, in tumor progression and has shown me just how complex the tumor microenvironment truly is.

2. The figures and methods sections of various in-field papers have proven particularly useful in helping me understand how other researchers have analyzed similar datasets and what tools/procedures they have leveraged in doing so. I’ve also been relying heavily on open source programming forums like Github and Stack Overflow to solve coding problems I’ve run into! 

Hi Cady, thanks so much for your answers! Given how much time we have for our research project, it makes a lot of sense that you have had to narrow in on a single research question, investigate it thoroughly, and build up context before beginning to move into what you had originally thought you would be researching. Especially in medicine, ensuring that different perspectives are accounted for seems like a crucial step in working towards a greater goal, so I am glad you have been able to dive into the details in order to garner more information about the complex systems you are studying. 

Jun 21, 2023

1. A large portion of my research involves searching through extensive databases and trying to pinpoint specific materials that will help move my research question forward. However, because I am looking for niche topics, oftentimes it becomes hard to know where to start from and how to lead the database in the right direction towards what I'm actually looking for. Under-researched fields, especially when doing historical research, make it hard to know where to begin from and who to look to for expertise, and oftentimes researchers have to find subjects with several degrees of separation in order to begin parsing their own analyses and arguments together. 

2. When I do find an essay or an article pertaining to the topics I'm studying, I have found that using the "Cited By" feature has led me to a swath of information that relates to my research, but my database searches might not have directed me to the first time around. I also have found that pictures/visuals are super valuable pieces of research, and sometime even say more as primary sources than written documents themselves. 

Jun 14, 2023
Replying to Cady Chen

1. My research is just one part of a much larger project investigating the crosstalk between neurons, microglia, and tumor cells at the tumor margin. I have spent the majority of my time thus far studying how sensory stimulation changes the expression of specific receptors in microglia and tumor cell replication, but there remain numerous unanswered questions—for example, does microglial activation promote or suppress tumor growth? What are the specific signaling pathways involved? As such, the scope of this project transcends my time & tasks in the lab. Nevertheless, I hope that the data I collect and analyze will help the lab start to answer these questions and inspire new questions for further investigation. Although I am not sure if I will have generated enough data/findings to write an entire paper, I do hope to formally communicate the results of my project in some manner, be it through attending a conference or writing a smaller paper or something else altogether.

2. By focusing on the interactions between neurons, microglia, and tumor cells, my research seeks to understand the role of the immune system in tumor development. I’m particularly interested in this question due to its clinical implications, for it may help researchers develop new drug targets (i.e. if microglia activation due to a specific receptor encourages tumor proliferation, researchers can develop a drug to block that receptor). Moreover, a greater understanding of what environmental/physical factors (i.e. sensory stimulation) may encourage tumor development will be incredibly important for developing best practices to prevent aggressive tumor growth in patients.

The scope of your research project is indeed quite substantial, but I think it is pretty amazing that researchers like yourself and your colleagues are able to contribute to work that could have a lasting impact on the lives and longevity of an entire group of people, whether or not it actually happens during your time in the lab. The work you are doing is a necessary piece to the larger puzzle that most of our research projects fit into where we are hopeful that the work we do and how we learn from that work opens doors to begin answering more of these kinds of questions. Thanks, Cady!

Jun 14, 2023

1. I am currently assisting my professor/faculty mentor on a book project that is in the beginning stages of research. I am helping to compile archives, documents, and materials from databases as a starting point for conducting ethnographic research and analyzing primary sources as a part of crafting the narrative. My professor, with a grant from the Academy of Motion Pictures, has access to several exclusive archival research libraries that are allowing me to dive into niche topics and develop a better understanding of how to organize findings and make sense of it all. 

2. My research topic is a part of a larger conversation of the history of marginalized communities in different spaces of socialization. Getting to uncover stories of influential figures who were never given a platform to reach a larger audience is incredibly rewarding but also important to the field of research as a whole, where amplifying unheard voices is an ethical consideration we must all make.