Dr. Bal Khatiwada’s love of chemistry emanates from a zealous curiosity.
“I like to know why something happens and chemistry allows you to examine how and why certain reactions happen,” said Khatiwada, who joined Ozarks in August as an assistant professor of chemistry. “I’ve always had a natural curiosity of why things are the way they are and why things change. I remember wondering as a child how you get yogurt from milk. That natural curiosity just continued to grow in me. In chemistry, you can do hands-on experiments and really get to the heart of how and why things work.”
Khatiwada grew up in eastern Nepal, the daughter of a high school teacher and one of six children.
“Education was always stressed in our family,” she said. “Science was something that just fascinated me from an early age and especially chemistry.”
She earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees at universities in Nepal before arriving at Oklahoma State University in 2009 to pursue her Ph.D. in chemistry.
“It was my first time away from Nepal and it was quite a culture shock for me,” she said. “My English was not very good and it took a while to adjust to a completely different culture, but my love of chemistry was one thing that kept me going.”
Khatiwada went on to earn her Ph.D. in chemistry from OSU in 2014. Her research focus was synthesis and characterization of polymers, absorbed polymers and reinforced polymers.
Though she served as a graduate teaching assistant for five years, Ozarks is her first full-time teaching position. She likes to get her students engaged by asking questions.
“Science has so many applications in our daily lives and it’s great when you see students who start to make that connection,” Khatiwada said. “I like to poke that curiosity in students by asking questions and helping them see the countless number of ways science is a part of lives. ”
Khatiwada enjoys cooking and singing in her free time. She also appreciates the natural beauty of the area.
“The big trees and the humidity in the summer here remind me a lot of the area in Nepal where I grew up,” she said. “The campus is beautiful and everyone is so nice, like a big family. You really do get to know everybody and I like that. It’s a wonderful place to teach and get an education.”