BYU: University’s commitment to faith and science drew Hindu scholar to Provo
Sudam Mane isn’t afraid of a little hard work. Growing up in the Sahyadri mountain ranges of India, he remembers guiding cattle on the family farm with one hand and tackling homework with the other.
He never imagined, however, his commitment to education would bring him to Brigham Young University and the snow-capped mountains of Provo — nearly 8,500 miles away.
“I didn’t know that such a university as BYU existed in the United States,” he said, reflecting on his decision to apply to a handful of American universities for graduate work. “A university guided by spirituality but with world-class academics is what I was looking for.”
Intrigued by BYU’s commitment to develop students of moral character, Mane chose to pursue his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry at BYU, turning down offers from other renowned institutions. A devout Hindu, Mane says the BYU mission strongly resonates with his personal beliefs of self-control and spiritual growth.
“What brought me to BYU was the outstanding research faculty and spiritual discipline that BYU follows,” said Mane. “I was impressed with the fact that BYU not only develops scientific professionals but also people with high moral values.”
Mane’s unlikely journey to BYU was guided by faith and family; he credits his father and uncle for instilling within him a desire to gain an education and live a life of moral integrity. After earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry from Shivaji University in Kolhapur, India, Mane worked in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 13 years before coming to BYU.
Giving up the comforts of home and culture to move to Provo was a decision made with some trepidation. Mane’s wife, Vidya, and 5-year-old son, Abhinav, initially remained in India as Mane headed westward, unsure if Utah would be a lasting home for the family. Determined to make the most of the opportunity, he buried himself in his studies and research, spending thousands of hours in the labs of BYU’s Benson Building researching mass spectrometry. Mane’s research may one day be used to develop new life-saving drugs.
His dedication caught the eye of BYU chemistry and biochemistry professor David Dearden, who took Mane under his wing. Together, their research was recently published in the Journal of Mass Spectrometry. The research uncovered the structural rearrangement of Sparsentan, a drug used to treat kidney disease, in the gas phase. The results introduce promising findings for future research in predicting drug metabolism and degradation.
Mane credits his unique relationship with Dearden for helping him to flourish as an international student. “I’m so fortunate to have him as my advisor,” he said. “I have not seen such a selfless person in my life. He’s down to earth by nature because he’s a very spiritual man.”
However, coming to BYU was about more than scientific research for Mane. He says his experiences at BYU have strengthened his own spirituality. He likens his own spiritual traditions to the culture of service and prayer on campus and appreciates the standard of devotion upheld by the Honor Code. It’s a place where he feels he belongs.
“People are very good here because what they say, they do,” he said. “The way we worship is different, but the ultimate goal is the same; it all leads us closer to God.”
With an eye toward graduation, Mane anticipates reentering the pharmaceutical industry or becoming a professor. He hopes to pay forward the remarkable support he’s received at BYU.