Dr. Ramesh Raghavan on What Matters Most and Why?

Dr. Ramesh Raghavan
Dr. Ramesh Raghavan

Professor Ramesh Raghavan was the inaugural speaker at our Office Inclusive Engagement and Student Life’s new series featuring NYU Silver faculty entitled “What Matters Most and Why?” For Dr. Raghavan, what matters most is finding and following his bliss – in both the professional and recreational realms. As such, he is both a mental health services researcher focused on the needs of vulnerable children and a scuba diver who helps to restore coral reefs.

Dr. Raghavan, who earned his MD in India, found his professional calling while he was completing a fellowship in pediatric pain management at UCLA in the late 1990s. Seeing how Medicaid managed care policies in place at the time restricted the decision making ability of clinicians caused him to change his career trajectory. He pursued his PhD in public health and became a services researcher focused on the role of Medicaid policy in improving access to and quality of mental health care for vulnerable children in the child welfare system.

Dr. Raghavan went on to become policy director for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network before starting his academic career in 2006 on the faculty at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. In early 2015, he served as Senior Advisor in the Office of the Commissioner, Administration on Children, Youth and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working primarily on the Obama Administration's psychotropic medication use and childhood trauma initiatives, and he went on to Rutgers University before joining the faculty at NYU Silver in September 2019.

As dedicated as Dr. Raghavan is to his work, he is as passionate about scuba diving. “You have to get outside of your head and do something different,” he said. “Scuba diving is the best activity for me. It shuts my mind down and is very restorative.” He has also made it an activity with purpose. He is learning how to grow, and then transplant, coral in parts of the ocean where it has been damaged or destroyed by pollution, disease, climate change, and other human interference.

Dr. Raghavan explained that he has been open to experiences that life presents to everyone, without foreclosing on opportunities in the service of some master plan. “I cooperated with life,” he said, “and it led me to where I am.”