Exemplary Expeditions : Avishek Ghosh
Feb 06, 2017 | Anshuman Bebarta
Avishek Ghosh, a Ph.D. scholar at NITR, recently bagged a prestigious opportunity to do a DAAD research internship at the University of Duisburg-Essen. With extreme humility and an ever-cheerful attitude, one night, he spared some time from his busy schedule and spoke to MM about his journey through NITR, and his internship abroad.
MM: Tell us about your life before NIT-R happened.
AG: I belong from Midnapore, a small town situated in the state of West Bengal, where I did my BSc. in chemistry from Midnapore College and my MSc. from Vidyasagar University and then I joined NIT-R under Prof. Sourav Chatterjee to pursue my Ph.D. degree in Organometallic Chemistry.
MM: Having done your BSc. and MSc. in chemistry at Midnapore College and Vidyasagar University respectively, how different was life at NIT-R?
AG: The place I grew up in, Midnapore, was not a place where students could have a global connection with. Our connection with the world and the research culture was very limited there. After coming here, I got the opportunity to know many intellectual and hardworking people and the professors are very collaborative here and they invest their best in encouraging the students. I have learned a number of things from my guide, Prof. Saurav Chatterjee. Having said that, the institute still needs to revamp and improve the existing academic curriculum in basic science departments.
MM: Tell us about your internship at Germany. How did your professors help you in getting you an internship?
AG: The purpose of the internship program was to discuss the scientific ideas between colleges of international repute. So DST-DAAD (Indo-German) joint research project came forward to help both the countries share their ideas and their scientific vision for the same. Our names were suggested by Prof. Saurav Chatterjee and Prof. Stephen Schulz of Germany for the project which was then allotted to us after being approved by DAAD.
MM: Tell us about the university you were interning at. What all facilities did it have and how collaborative were the professors there?
AG: The place where I did my internship, University of Duisburg-Essen, is situated in North Rhine-Westphalia and is a public university in Duisberg and Essen, Germany. Initially, I had some problems adjusting with the temperature over there which was as low as -2 degree centigrade. But after a point when I became too concentrated on my work. That stopped bothering me. Coming to the facilities, they have multiple instruments like Single Crystal X-Ray Diffraction, SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope), TEM (Transmission Electron Microscope) and powder XRD (X-Ray Diffraction) and all this definitely boosts their research advancement and lives up to their world ranking which is under 500. The reason for it is the fact that Germany is an economically forward country and the universities there are well equipped with all this. Their professors were also very friendly and collaborative.
MM: Your area of research is organometallic chemistry. Could you elaborate the details of your work there?
AG: The area of work we focused on was the synthesis of nanoparticles which can be used as auxiliary sources of renewable energy. For example - splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen so that they can be used in fuel cells, synthesising nanoparticles which can be used in di cells or solar cells as counter electrodes and, during device making. We also worked in synthesising nanoparticles using an instrument called single source precursors which synthesis pure phase nanoparticles. The field of chemistry I have worked so far was very different to what I worked over there. So, even though my expectations from the internship was not that good, we got some success and we are planning to continue that work.
MM: What was the stipend that you received? What other facilities did DST-DAAD provide for this internship?
AG: I received 60,000 INR from DST for travel expenses and visa. 1000 Euros were supplied by DAAD for the month-long stay in Germany which was just barely enough for a place like Germany. DST-DAAD also provided me with a place to live.
MM: How is the education system in Germany different from that in India?
AG: Considering the facilities they are privileged with, I would like to say that NIT Rourkela pales down in that comparison. Our labs are not equipped with an appropriate number of those instruments and some very quintessential instruments like the single crystal is not there at all. The main problem is indeed funding. Our colleges get very less funding as compared to theirs which halts the research in our college. Coming to the education system, we are equally efficient and probably more hardworking than them but we lag in infrastructure and technology.
MM: What advice would you like to give to the students of NIT-R who are looking for an internship abroad?
AG: Firstly, the CV should be good. Secondly, the letters of recommendation that you get should be from noteworthy professors who have a wide connection that you can get help from and finally your statement of purpose should be an honest and well-researched expression of your interest in the project, as well as your keenness to work under the guidance of a particular professor. You should be relentless in sending emails to different professors of different colleges. And anyone who wants to pursue research should never miss the opportunity to work at foreign universities.
MM: What should the students as well as professors in the Department of Chemistry ensure for NIT Rourkela to be a top institute in the field or science and research?
AG: First of all, facilities at the labs should be increased and the authorities should ensure that each student is able to avail those facilities without any hassle. Even the academic curricula should be changed thoroughly. Otherwise, I think the amount of talent the students of NIT Rourkela possess, we can grow into a global center for research in the years to come.
MM: What are your future plans?
AG: I definitely want to pursue post-doc in chemistry and hopefully in a good foreign university and then want to come back to India and devote myself to lectureship.
MM: What is your message for MM readers?
Upanishad says every person has the supreme power within him and he can use that power for what he want to achieve in life. To use that power of focus of mind in a particular goal or work, dedication is required. So my message is completely focused your mind on your goal or work and forget rest of world.