Heading for a Bon-Voyage at MIT : Soumya Pratap Tripathy
Smruti Sucharita Nath | Jun 10, 2019
A soft-spoken person profoundly engrossed in research projects with 10 patents under his name, having completed 12-15 projects on tissue engineering, nanotechnology, and handled 2 Government-sponsored projects, the prodigy has created his niche in the field of research and technology. A person with a never-ending thirst to experiment with new skills, Soumya Pratap Tripathy, a fresh graduate from the Department of Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering is one of those privileged students to bag the prestigious acceptance at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his doctoral studies. Monday Morning brings you the story of Soumya Pratap Tripathy, who managed to survive to engineering along with his tremendous works in the research fields of his passion.
MM: Brief us about your childhood and schooldays.
ST: I am an inhabitant of Odisha, and I hail from Bhadrak. My educational background was entirely in Odia medium schools. After my intermediate, I decided to take a year off and moved to Bhubaneshwar for AIPMT preparations. Engineering was never a choice for me. Unluckily, I couldn’t make it for medical and with a not-so-good rank, landed up in Biotechnology Engineering at NIT Rourkela. As a child, I had a habit of splitting household devices and knowing about how things work and always wanted to serve my Nation. I spent a lot of time pursuing my interest.
MM: How have these four years been at college, both personally and professionally?
ST: I had a jolly time here for the last four years of my life. My life turning point was meeting Prof. Sirsendu Sekhar Ray. He is a very innovative professor and the discourse of his thoughts and ideas are quite productive. Prof. Ray treated me not less than his son, and I obeyed his path. He is my source of inspiration and I had a glorious time working with him. The Anatomy and Physiology labs were my places of hibernation.
The thing that annoyed me here, was the strict attendance policy, which brought me 21-grade backs during my entire B.Tech career. The attendance is stringent than necessary and that began to pester me.
MM: Talking about your prestigious acceptance at MIT, walk us through your motivation for applying to MIT.
ST: I had made up my mind to probe deep into the line of research from the beginning itself. I didn’t have any personal motive to join MIT. All I yearned a good platform to satisfy my craving for research. Prof. Ray was driving force behind this without whose assistance; this achievement would have been far less than even a dream. He was fascinated with the research opportunities afforded there at MIT, and so was I.
MM: Brief us about the application procedure. How was the feeling when you finally received the acceptance letter?
ST: In my case, there was no necessity of GRE and the score of IELTS was waved off. This procedure of application differs from branch to branch. I had applied through their online portal and chose the research group of my interest. The application was out by December. I went through 4 skype interviews and 4 weekly assignments were assigned to me. I explicated the documentation of all my research projects, all conference presentations, and patents in my first interview. The 4 assignments were based on the problem statements on which I will be working. The interviews were focused on explaining the proposed solution to the given problem statements in the assignment. After going through all the interviews and assignments, the Professor offered me a Ph.D. position at her lab.
MM: What other colleges did you apply for? What were the major reasons for choosing MIT?
ST: For Ph.D., I had not applied for any other colleges. However, I had applied for Stanford University for a one-year entrepreneurial program: Bio-design program. I was refused as they only accepted graduates and doctorate applicants from top-notch colleges. The environment of MIT was appreciative which was the sole reason for choosing MIT.
MM: What would be your major role over there? What are your research interests?
ST: Mostly, I will be working as a graduate researcher for two years and doctorate researcher for 5 years. My research field will be based on a brain-computer interface. We will be making a living cyborg. The animal will carry microchips integrated into the neurons in their brain so that we can track the neural activity in real-time. It incorporates brain mapping and modeling.
My research interests twirl around spintronics in biology, the effect of fundamental particles in the biological phenomenon.
MM: What kind of preparations or what are the prerequisites for getting admitted to MIT?
ST: They mainly look after your attitude towards research. Proper documentation of your works like patents, research publications, presentations plays a key role in getting into. I received the offer as I possessed the right skill sets to contribute to the future project.
MM: You have worked immensely on Bio-glass and Graphene Quantum Dots. Tell us something about the same.
ST: In the year 2017, I along with my team members, Swati Mohapatra, Soumyashree Jena, Kritideepan Parida, Pranjali Mishra, and Megha Satpathy, participated in the Engineering Students Innovation Challenge held by the International Society for Scientific Research and Development (ESIC-ISSRD) 2017, and we presented the project on the Extraction of Graphene Quantum Dots from various reliable sources and it has a wide application in orthopedic, dentistry, high-intensity laser applications. We discovered a unique method for the purification of Glass Quantum Dots through vapor phase transmission and have patents on the same. Our team won the Best Project Award at National Level for the same.
MM: Along with such a stronghold on research, you are running a start-up as well. Tell us about the same.
ST: We started our startup, FLUORO Q in 2017 under the guidance of Prof. Ray. He always had a dream of introducing his products to the commercial sector. Keeping in mind, the demand for graphene, we decided to use graphene dots in our products. We are now in the position of registering our company. Due to the shortage of time and manpower, we couldn't start it properly. The monetary sources are the main constraints. Our team includes- Anup Sunni Routray, Kritideepan Parida, Binay Priyadarshan Nayak, Abhijeet Sahoo, Shaswat Lenka, Kuna Das. They all have expertise in various fields.
MM: Talk us about the curriculum and prospects of Biotechnology Engineering at NITR. How do you feel the improvement can take place?
ST: The professors need to be a bit indulgent and give students their own space. They should boost the students to achieve more. The pattern of teaching greatly affects the student’s life. The attendance system needs to be a bit flexible. While the curriculum is decent, it should mainly focus on practical approaches.
Like in my 2nd year, I approached many professors with lucrative ideas, but they denied. This was one more discouraging factor that I could spot out. People like me, who didn’t have the facilities required at first, have to find their way.
MM: What are your future plans?
ST: My chief intention is to bring the products and technology from lab bench to market. I will be continuing with my startup and wish to contribute to society in a useful manner, meeting the basic objective of the research. A few years down the line, I see myself as a successful entrepreneur.
MM: What message would you like to give our readers.
Do not waste your time. Try to do some productive work and carry on putting efforts whole-heartedly to accomplish your dreams. You should take up something that inspires you, something that makes you passionate. These four years are the best time to explore.