A biology professor sports a baseball bat in his office signed by his students and covered with quotes and inside jokes. Framed drawings and pictures grace the office walls, presents from grateful pupils. These are Dr. Joel Gaikwad’s treasures.Raised by a spirit-filled Pentecostal family in the state of Maharashtra, India, Dr. Joel Gaikwad’s passion for biology was sparked when a neighbor shared his excitement for dissecting frogs in school. After receiving both a masters’ degree in microbiology and a Ph.D. in biochemistry, Joel moved to the U.S. in order to continue post-doctoral training in California before moving to Texas.
During his six years working at the University of Texas, Joel stumbled upon an online job offer from ORU. Since the website had not been updated in over a year, availability for the position had potentially expired. He sent his resume anyway and within a short period of time, he was hired.
When he first began at ORU, he found it a challenge to teach undergraduate classes, since he was accustomed to graduate level research. However, after a difficult year, he began to see how much impact his life had on the students. Even those outside his department come to him for advice, but he gives all the glory to God.
His research in the areas of cancer biology, which is a particular passion of his, developmental biology and microbiology, has earned him grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH-INBRE). He enjoys reading anything scientific and has recently picked up books on theology, particularly those written by Dr. Ravi Zacharias. He also likes to work around the house.
He is a passionate teacher and pushes his students to think outside the box. He believes it is not enough to simply learn information but be able to use it in a critical thinking capacity.
Joel considers the Holy Spirit his GPS system; without it, he is lost. To him, studying science is like a form of worship that he shares with his students, believing there is no substitute for hard work. Joel’s goal-oriented personality pushes him forward every day; however, he always endeavors to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance for each day's path. As a professor of biology and chemistry he is also working to finish his master of divinity at the ORU School of Theology.
“Ministering to students beyond academics is my life,” he states. “ORU is the best place.”