Interview - Poonam Salhotra

Dr. Poonam Gulati Salhotra was born in a small town called Malakpur in India to a traditional family. Her father was a civil servant for the Indian government, and her mother was a homemaker. When she was 11, the family immigrated to the US along with her younger brother. Coming from a traditional culture in India and religious faith in Hinduism, the family’s culture shock back then included seeing women wearing nothing but bikinis by the swimming pool. Poonam also struggled with the American dating culture and going to the prom in high school. Although she was not allowed to attend her high school prom, she advocated for her younger brother who in the end, was allowed to attend his prom. Later on, she pursued a PhD in microbiology, and has been arranged by her family, and married his husband, Atul, for over 30 years. Now she directs the Center for Community Engagement and service learning at University of Houston downtown, and maintains a research lab as well as her role in teaching. The family has two children, one son and one daughter, both in their 20s.

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