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Retired biology professor pens memoir


Professor emerita Ammini Moorthy has published a memoir titled, “Immigrant Transformed: FromtheLand ofCoconutstotheBigApple.” Professor Moorthy, a geneticist on the Wagner College biology faculty for 32 years, retired 10 years ago. A couple of years later, she and her husband, Sam, moved from Edison, New Jersey, to Grantham, New Hampshire. Among her steps in adjusting to retirement was a memoir- writing course at nearby Dartmouth College.

Growing up in the small town of Koovapadi in the state of Kerala, on the southwest coast of India, Moorthy says that she listened to so many stories told by neighbors and family members that she developed a talent of her own for storytelling.

“Immigrant Transformed” is a collection of Moorthy’s stories about her own life from childhood to school, to arranged marriage and immigration to the United States, to academic life at Wagner and beyond.

“This memoir should be required reading for anyone seeking inspiration, joy, honesty and laughter,” says Galveston Biology professor Christina Perez. “Dr. Moorthy’s life reminds us to live with determination and persistence, even in the face of obstacles.”

“Immigrant Transformed: From the Land of Coconuts to the Big Apple,” by Ammini Moorthy, is available on Amazon.

Kirkus Reviews:


From the Land of Coconuts to the Big Apple

Ammini Moorthy Self (244 pp.)

$7.99 paperback, $4.99 e-book November 27, 2022


A retired scientist and professor of biology tells the story of her life, including her immigration to the United States from India.

In these pages, Moorthy tells her own tales of childhood mischief, her immigration to New York City, her arranged marriage, and how she balanced a successful career with raising a family. She was born in 1945 as the youngest of seven children in a rural village in tropical southern India that she calls the “Land of Coconuts.” “Growing up,” she writes, “I listened to so many stories told by different members of my family…each one was narrated in the teller’s own unique style, with flair and little details that made the tale very attractive to its listeners.” After graduating first in her class at Thiruvananthapuram-based Kerala University, the author moved to the United States, where she eventually obtained a doctorate in cell biology from New York University. The author effectively recounts her academic career, which included postdoctoral research at Princeton University and more than 30 years as a professor at Staten Island’s Wagner College. However, the book’s most impressive feat is its ability to capture the author’s mixed emotions of awe, fear, and curiosity as a new immigrant. As someone who attended Catholic missionary schools, the author notes her shock upon visiting Times Square for the first time in the late 1960s, where she inadvertently paid a quarter to see a pornographic peep show. Other humorous stories of her early years in America include a Thanksgiving dinner during which her accommodating but naïve American friend offered her “vegetarian” stuffing that was cooked inside a turkey. Many chapters are devoted to her experiences as a mother raising two kids “who had to constantly navigate between their Indian roots and their American identities.” Readers seeking a more detailed account of Moorthy’s career as a geneticist may not be satisfied with the book’s coverage of it. However, the memoir is full of poignant and amusing anecdotes that speak to the experiences of many Indian immigrants.

An engaging memoir of a scientist’s international life journey.


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Author Talk with Ammini Moorthy, PhD – Immigrant Transformed

 Come to the Town Hall on March 30th at 7 o’clock to listen to a presentation of a book,

Immigrant Transformed: From the Land of Coconuts to the Big Apple.

Our special speaker and author is Professor Ammini Moorthy who will reminisce about her life’s journey and switching countries and cities (India for U.S.A., a village for New York City, and New Jersey for Grantham).

Those who read the book called it adventurous, honest, and inspiring.

Local author, in-person, free and open to the public! 

Light refreshments will be provided. Sponsored by Friends of the Dunbar Free Library!