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Debanjun Das

Debanjan standing in front of waterfall


One of the interesting things that we look at is the U.S. and how we want everything to be made here. One of the things that I’ve found out is that we don’t have the labor force or the training that we used to have. We have to retrain them. Another thing is we can have “Made in U.S.” but you cannot have it for everyday clothing, or day-to-day activities or the clothing that we use for everyday wear. It’s not possible to produce in the U.S. because of the prices.

If you weren't working at WVU, what's the most likely alternative?

I would still be teaching at a university. I love teaching. I really love when I get a student who doesn’t know anything about how to run a business, but at the end of the semester, when they went for an internship and they come back, they tell me that they applied what I taught them in their jobs.

Moment you knew what you wanted to study?

Somebody told me that the basic needs of a human being are food, clothing and shelter. People have to wear clothes, so why not do a bachelor's degree in fashion technology. After that I worked in the industry as a factory manager, producing garments for European and U.S. companies for two years. You see the supply side of it. You see the problems that we see here. It was an issue where workers were demanding more reasonable salaries, and I thought they deserved that raise, but the owner said no. It was 50 cents, but when you convert that to Indian rupees it would be a huge impact for them. So that’s when I decided I would do my master's and Ph.D. and research what the issues are and how much more consumers should pay so that we don’t have factory fires and people dying where the clothes are being made.

Moment you knew your current role was right for you?

I had always wanted to be a faculty member. I always wanted to teach because it came naturally to me. When I came to WVU to interview, it was very beautiful. Driving from Pittsburgh to Morgantown, I fell in love with WVU, the campus, the PRT, the mountains, the people, the small creeks where you can fish. That’s how I felt that this is the right place and the job was right, you know teaching and research, it gave me the freedom to do what I wanted to do.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I think I would definitely live in Morgantown and in West Virginia for sure. The mountains have so many different characteristics. In the summer, they’re so green and so full of life. And in the winters with snow, you can see the slopes. But I like to visit oceans and to visit beaches like in Mexico and Florida. So I would live in Morgantown, but I’d have a house at one of the beaches.

Favorite part of social distancing?

Social distancing is difficult in many ways. I love when you have people coming over and talking to them, but with social distancing, you get a new perspective on life. You see another part of your life that you don’t normally see as important. I never did this before but with the social distancing, you get to spend time at your home. I’m looking at indoor plants; I’m seeing the lavender tree and seeing how it blooms. From a fashion teacher to more of a plant science person, learning how to grow a plant.

Least favorite part of social distancing?

Not being able to talk to people in the corridors and in the departments. And the students, of course. Apart from teaching, I love getting to talk to them and getting to see students come by and talk about their day. I love face-to-face, so I’m missing that the most.

Just for Fun

Favorite book: Harry Potter

Favorite movie/tv show: Saving Private Ryan, Friends, Breaking Bad

Favorite Spotify playlist/band/song: The Beatles

Favorite local restaurant: Oliverio’s, Ta-Khrai

Favorite local activity: Fishing, visiting state parks