A Mentor- Protégé Duo Par Excellence
Abiding by the phrase, "Hard work pays off when it meets the right plan of action", this time is a PhD Scholar from NIT Rourkela, who has shown his spirit and sagacity by transcending the boundaries of not just knowledge, but geography as well. Mr Sudhir Lima, pursuing his PhD in Chemistry (CY) Department, has proved his calibre by getting hand-picked for the prestigious DAAD Sandwich Programme and will be receiving a glorious opportunity of working under the co-supervision of Prof. Dr Winfried Plass from Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena, Germany. This laudable accomplishment has an equal contribution from Mr Lima's research supervisor, Prof. Dr Rupam Dinda, HOD, Chemistry Department, who guided and motivated him throughout his credulous and painstaking journey of reaching acme.
He will be visiting the German university and carrying out his research work in the highly state-of-the-art and eccentric labs with the best of facilities and modern equipment for an entire year.
Being the first from the institute to make this stellar shot, his diligence, and dedication, complemented with his mentor's constant backing, he has certainly lead the way and showed the path to the entire student fraternity.
Team Monday Morning reached out to Mr Sudhir Lima, to know about his journey, the subsequent awe-inspiring achievement, and the path ahead. We also had the golden opportunity to talk to the mentor himself, Prof. Rupam Dinda, under whose miraculous guidance and counsel, his protégé could reach this stage and clinch the title.
All about DAAD
The DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) Scholarship in Germany is the world's largest funding organization for international students from developing countries. It has a name for itself right from 1925 when it was founded. This particular programme, i.e. the DAAD Sandwich programme is a 'Binationally Supervised PhD Degree' in which there are two host scientists, one from the institute, the student is a part of, and one from a German university and the scholar gets to carry out his/her research work under the collaboration of both, availing the best of facilities.
The uniqueness of this program lies in the fact that it requires the collaboration of two host scientists. Prof. Rupam Dinda was involved with a particular group of researchers from The University of Jena, Germany as a part of his research work since 2014.
He also had some joint publications with Prof. Dr Winfried Plass. Through an exchange of emails and feedback, they decided to put forward the proposal for this programme. Elaborating about the application procedure, Mr Sudhir Lima said:
The scholarship requires a CGPA of 8.5 or above and an acceptance cum invitation letter from a German professor for the internship. In the first stage of selection, the screening stage, the project proposal is evaluated by German scientists. After that, I was called for a PI to New Delhi, where I presented my proposal to the DAAD committee consisting of German scientists.
After selection, a student has to go through a period of learning the German language, which was completely online, pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic this time. It is taught so that the research scholar doesn't face any serious language barrier and can continue his work with ease.
The Scenario Of International Collaborations
Talking about how difficult getting accepted in this program is, Prof. Rupam Dinda said:
We have been trying for this very collaborative programme for the past few years, but every year due to one setback or the other, our proposal always fell through. However, due to an efficacious proposal this year and Sudhir's undying dedication towards his research work, our proposal has been accepted. It was definitely a team effort.
Even though our institute possesses the laboratories, manpower, and machinery, it lacks the primary requirement of 'skilled technicians'. Talking about it, Prof. Rupam Dinda, a veteran in his arena, said:
Even if we manage to acquire instrumentation facilities, it becomes inoperative after a few years, and we don't have expert technicians who could sort out the problems. What I found was that the supporting staff and technicians in Germany are incomparably efficient.
Such auspicious collaboration would indeed prove to be a boon to the students who aspire to gain knowledge and skills of advanced equipment and proper techniques, and it is a matter of ecstasy that students of NIT Rourkela are venturing into such projects with a good reach and future. They are showing verve towards the same, much more than ever.
Through this programme, NITR will get an opportunity to develop joint research projects and upgrade study programmes to enhance its strategies of internationalization. These will open up chances of conducting joint seminars, workshops, and lectures. Talking about the ultimate aim, Prof. Rupam Dinda said:
After all, our ulterior aim is India's growth and development in the technical field for a better future of our constantly burgeoning society.
A Talk with the Triumphant
Here are the insights of Monday Morning's interaction with the man himself, Mr Sudhir Lima.
MM: Enlighten us about the PhD you are undertaking in NIT Rourkela? When did it start and what is your field of research?
Mr Lima: I enrolled for the PhD in Chemistry on 5th January 2017. After the first six months of the lecture course, I decided to take up the Physical Biochemistry course to study cancer cells. Around July, I joined Prof. Rupam Dinda's group, and since then I’m working on a project, i.e. Study of biological and catalytic activities of various transition metals that have the application in magnetic studies as well as anti-cancer properties.
MM: Brief us about your projects and field of research you will be a part of through this programme?
Mr Lima: In this proposed work we will work in collaboration with the German group and would extend our ongoing studies on transition metal complexes, and as an outcome, this proposal will address the highly topical question related to molecular spintronics and medical chemistry from a chemical perspective. This is related to the synthesis of new potential qubits and molecular magnets both related to future spintronic applications. The results for the magnetic materials obtained here are of fundamental interest in developing building blocks for quantum computers. The results can be incorporated into the European flagship program quantum computing in the long term.
MM: Considering the present global pandemic, when is this program expected to start? And how have you prepared for it?
Mr Lima: In the initial phase of the scholarship programme, that started in August last year, I had a two months German language course. After the semester registration in October, we had already started the research work approved by DAAD that included the synthesis, characterization, and preliminary application parts. The online classes will be starting in August, and we will be further notified if the programme gets postponed.
MM: What are your opinions on the difference in the research environment and technologies of NIT Rourkela as compared to that of a German university?
Mr.Lima: Though the project and research procedure are the same, our institute lacks the instrumentation facilities, which is a hindrance to the successful completion of the project. Without proper instruments for a particular task like compound characterization, we have to send our findings to other laboratories and wait for the results. German universities are far ahead in terms of technology, implementation of research output, and product-oriented research.
MM: What are your expectations from this program, and how do you think it opens up opportunities for you in the future?
Mr Lima: Fortunately, with advanced equipment and techniques, I expect to succeed in the project and get the ultimate result published. The programme would help me get better exposure and learn proper techniques, the knowledge of which I could pass on to my students if I become a professor or scientist in the future. The skills gained, and the reference letter would further help me to secure a fellowship to work as a postdoctoral fellow in a good university.
MM: What a message would you like to give to our readers who are seeking such opportunities at International Universities?
Mr Lima: My message would be to never stop seeking knowledge. Work harder in the research area and, seeking out problems and basic needs of the field by exploring journals and articles and keeping yourself updated with the progress, around the world.
Team Monday Morning wishes Prof. Rupam Dinda and Mr Sudhir Lima good luck for their future endeavours and hopes that they keep bringing laurels for our institute.