Faculty Friday Spotlight: Dr. Gautam Ullal
Dr. Gautam Ullal has been teaching neuroscience at AUC since November 2016, and serves as the 4th Semester Lead and Course Director for Neuroscience. He obtained his medical degree (MBBS) from St. John’s Medical College in Bangalore, India, and earned his PhD in neurosurgery at Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Japan. Before coming to AUC, Dr. Ullal taught at medical schools in India, Canada, and Nevis (West Indies). His primary field of research has been epilepsy, and he has received several awards in research and medical education.
Describe an experience that helped form you as an educator.
My dad was a Professor of Botany. His passion for the subject, the twinkle in his eyes when he spoke about plants, and the anecdotes of his lectures constantly inspired me to be an educator.
How did you become convinced that you should come to AUC, or what attracted you to AUC?
The vibrant and enriching environment of the campus; student activities; and observing how much the school cares for the students drew me to AUC. Moreover, coming from Canada, I will not be honest if I do not mention that the turquoise beaches of St. Maarten and the sunny skies above made my decision to come very easy.
What is your favorite thing about teaching at AUC?
The wonderful student community, my interaction with the students, and talking about the fascinating brain mechanisms in normal and diseased states.
Are you involved with any student organizations or other student activities?
I am involved with the Student Interest Group in Neurology (SIGN) and Medical Multicultural Club in AUC. I am also recognized by the International Brain Bee Organization as a National/Regional Coordinator for Brain Bee competitions that will be conducted across the high schools of St. Maarten. Through this, I am looking forward to spreading the wonders of the human brain to the young minds of high schools and taking them up to compete at the international Brain Bee competitions.
What are some of your favorite things about Sint Maarten?
The extremely friendly people of St. Maarten, the diverse blend of cultures, beautiful landscapes of the island, and the variety of restaurants the island boasts of.
As 4th Semester Lead, what are some of your responsibilities in this role? What do you observe about students at that time in their medical education?
Integrating the disciplines in semester 4, forming a liaison between the students, faculty and the administrative wings of the school. I have observed that the students seem to be enjoying the process of horizontal integration of our disciplines and the case-based learning.
How would you like for students to describe you years from now?
A friendly, always available guy who made neuroscience a fun topic while preparing us well for the Board examinations, as well as the medical profession. He made us think outside of the class. Hopefully, they can recite some of the lines in the poems I composed on brain mechanisms.
What makes you look forward to the start of a new semester?
Each class is a new experience; each batch is unique; each time I talk about the brain it makes me think.
What’s something about you that not many people know about you or that your students would be surprised to learn?
I sing Bollywood songs. I sing a lot in my bathroom. I speak six languages.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Sleeping, listening to classical music, reading and traveling to learn different cultures, cruises and food.
What would you be doing if you hadn't gone into medical education?
Studied world history.