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Veronica has left a void that

Veronica has left a void that is difficult to fill but has created a legacy that will endure. One of her most enduring and greatest contribution is the large number of excellent students she has mentored and sent off to successful careers in academia all over the world. I had the privilege of working with her from 2003 till her demise. She was my co-guide in my PhD studies with Vijay and more recently, over the last one year – I have been a postdoctoral scientist with her on my WT-DBT India Alliance fellowship. Here, I attempt to elaborate on some of her endearing qualities that never failed to inspire the people who have interacted with her. Firstly, there’s that sheer commitment that Veronica lived by. I’ve never seen anybody work so hard to get her students’ science published and noticed. Until she shifted to Bangalore from Mumbai, it was not uncommon for us to have teleconference or skype sessions at 11 PM or even midnight – and that’s when she’s back in the lab after dinner. After she moved to Bangalore five years back, including the last couple of years when her health gradually declined, anytime was good for a discussion – by phone or email- whether its an experiment that worked (more often, not worked) or some lab purchase or maintenance issue. And she was always professional and committed to the task at hand- that meant she could recall every control experiment you’ve done, could see through your forest of data to identify the branch you must look at or knew exactly who should be contacted to get a purchase expedited. The fact remains that Veronica never kept anybody waiting- so a manuscript you’ve send her for correction at midnight, will be back in your inbox the very next day, dispelling all plans of a movie you’ve planned for the evening. As such, it was not uncommon for her to be waiting for you to deliver something– and that was never comforting. This then leads to me to her other quality of being frank and honest. While good work would be rewarded by silent approval- shoddy work or carelessness was always greeted by very prompt and honest criticism. In this relentless pursuit of science, she was selfless and did everything possible- whether it meant hours looking at slides or confocal data – or helping out when students had difficulty outside the lab. So whether it’s lending her credit card for the purchase of air tickets (as I once had to, during a family crisis at home), or, very practical advice on a gamut of problems –from career options to personal problems, she was always approachable. We will miss her simplicity, dignity, commitment and selflessness. We thank her and celebrate her life for the many victories she has helped us achieve. It is now our solemn duty to enrich this legacy.


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