Surya Pulukuri

Like a lot of pre-med students, when senior Surya Pulukuri first arrived on campus, he planned to focus on biology. But after a first-year orientation presentation about majors, he found his mind veering toward biochemistry and so he switched.

But then.

“I met some students from Sargent College and looked into its programs and realized there was a whole other college dedicated to healthcare professions,” he recalls.

So he wondered whether to jump to human physiology. Fortunately, the coursework in the two majors overlapped in the first few years, so he had time to decide. 

“It’s just a very different understanding when you look at a subject through multiple lenses at the same time.”

“I realized there was no good reason to let go of either major. I decided to pursue a dual degree. Something I hadn’t even known about at first.”

Those pivots wouldn’t be Surya’s last, as he discovered more unexpected avenues of intellectual pursuit at BU, each seeming to fall into place like dominoes.

Take the relationship he formed with his chemistry professor Binyomin Abrams, for example. “His teaching style was amazing,” Surya says. “He had a great way of connecting the things we were learning in chemistry to neuroscience, the humanities, and even religion to help us think about things that science can’t explain.”

Surya would soon learn that this multiperspective approach is baked into BU academics. In a psychology class, he was learning how the mind processes vision. When he realized that his biology and chemistry classes were tackling the same topic but from different angles, a light bulb went off.

“In all of my classes, by complete coincidence, my professors were talking about the same thing in different ways,” Surya says. “In psychology, we were learning how vision is processed as particles of light that our brain interprets. In biology, we learned that certain cells in your eyes capture energy and change its form into information your brain then processes with neurons. And in chemistry, we were learning about how different kinds of molecules in your eyes capture light in different ways. Making those connections was something I would not have done on my own.”

That philosophy of learning, coupled with the impact of Abrams’ teaching, led Surya to uncover another passion: education research.

“I got the opportunity to do research on human subjects. You talk to students, you try to develop tools they can use to learn well, you recruit students into studies, and you survey them about how well they’re learning. I was able to really blend together all the things that I was learning at BU through my research project.

“I want to be a physician but also an educator. I came to BU wanting to do medicine, but I had no idea that I could learn about teaching medical students how to learn. It’s because BU is so flexible and interconnected that I was able to learn about myself, discover new passions, and also pursue them.”