Knowing No Bounds: Daman Yadav’s Internship At Bielefeld University, Germany

Knowing No Bounds: Daman Yadav’s Internship At Bielefeld University, Germany

Ananya Pattanaik Adarsh Swarnakar | Aug 17, 2020

  • Nanoparticle synthesis

    Meanwhile, via the mail, I also tried contacting several professors who were working and were stalwarts in my field of interest, trying to communicate with them personally.

    I highly suggest visiting the website of the Institute and going through all the professors' web profiles as professors pick the students they have already contacted and assessed personally, including for specific internship programmes. In addition, contacting professors individually via mail helps you to describe your inspiration and expectations for research in a flexible way.

    Throughout the entire internship phase, my teachers, seniors and particularly my department HOD were very supportive and cordial. For second years, there are no unique internship programmes at IIT Delhi until your work profile and past projects are sufficiently compelling to attract the attention of the professor.

    Begin sending the mails by the end of February and expecting to get a reply as soon as possible. It is best to keep your mail cover letter short and concise while writing emails.

    I received a letter of acceptance from a professor at the IIT Delhi Biomedical Engineering Center, and she asked me to join the internship for three months. Certainly, there was more than one reason why IIT Delhi was chosen over the previous. This was mainly because here I got to work on an independent project that coincided with my long-term research goals correctly. Generally, as compared to international programmes, the application process is relatively straightforward, but I always recommend that you develop some previous research experience to improve your chances of selection.

    MM: What was your field of research there? What new and innovative did you learn there, and how was your overall experience there?

    DY: I was working at IIT Delhi to develop advanced 3D-bioprinted polymeric hydrogel composite scaffolds for the Bone tissue engineering applications. This project demonstrates the ability of dual cross-linking in polymer structures to improve their overall mechanical strength and other biochemical properties. I have received an acknowledgement from my work here at the institute in a research paper that was later published. I also learned to synthesise Gold, Silver nanoparticles through chemical reduction and Carbon dots, Polyethylene glycol (PEG) nanoparticles via autoclave hydrothermal cycle, as part of my internship project. My internship project allowed me to conduct the comprehensive chemical and mechanical scaffold characterisation, for which I studied various software, including 3D-Printer interface, Solidworks 3D, Cura engine.

    Daman Yadav's research work at IIT Delhi

    3D Bioprinting

    Although working at IIT Delhi has its perks, but specifically, when compared to the labs here at NIT Rourkela, I feel there is more versatility in using the high-quality Characterization Instruments from the central facility. Everyone in the laboratory, including the professor, PhD, Postdoc and Masters students, was accommodating in all respects. The other interns who served in the laboratory were very helpful and welcoming too. I enjoyed doing my project for these three months and learning new theoretical concepts. The campus wasn't foreign to me being from the same city, but hanging out with these lovely people during the break sessions was what I enjoyed most.

    Daman Yadav's experience at IIT Delhi

    MM: At the end of your third year, you got the opportunity of a coveted research internship at the Bielefeld University of Germany. How did you come across this foreign Internship? Enlighten us about the application procedure.

    DY: I already had some previous research experience when I reached the third year, and so I was aware that I had to work in the area of Tissue Engineering and Bionanomaterials. I started working on another related project which also allowed me to learn the handling of animal blood and the culture of cells. I began applying for numerous international internship programmes by this time.

    As the call for foreign internship programs commences by mid-August, it is advisable to check for all available internship programmes in different countries and organise them in an Excel sheet based on the starting date of application. This would keep things in order and therefore lower the risk of missing deadlines for any particular programme.

    DAAD Wise is a scholarship programme that selects a handful of students each year who wish to pursue a 2-3 month research internship at a German Higher Education Institute, which is publicly funded. Applications for this programme will begin in September and will expire by October. Applying for this scholarship programme requires the applicant to have an outstanding academic record and some work experience beforehand. While the minimum CGPA requirements are 8.5, keeping it as enjoyable as possible is advisable. Also, your research profile should be consistently reliable and, most significantly, your letter of motivation should be convincing but still real. I think the DAAD (for Germany) and the CHARPAK (for France) are two of the most successful initiatives that assess both academic and research skills. The application procedure for the same is quite complicated because it allows you to have a letter of acceptance from any publicly funded German University before beginning the application process. I started by listing German teachers in my area of interest and sending them emails concerning the same.

    I suggest talking in less depth about your previous work experience because it makes the cover letter lengthy and pompous to read. Alternatively, seek to include any skills you've acquired through this period, publications and other accomplishments that the professor may be interested in. Not to mention, add your letter Resume, Transcript and Motivation letter as a separate link to the Google drive.

    As you are beginning to send emails from August-end itself, you should have the acceptance letter handy not later than the mid-October as you should keep enough time to complete the application process and to be able to send the hard copies of your forms to the DAAD's Delhi office (German Embassy). I received a letter of acceptance from a professor at the University of Bielefeld and RWTH Aachen University. DAAD allows you the ability to pick more than one university in case you receive a letter of acceptance from both while later you can choose from anybody. Unfortunately, with the current situation, the programme has been cancelled for our batch, we have had to continue the work by online means.

    MM: What has been your area of research in this Internship?

    DY: I worked on a project involving the use of carbon nanofiber-based biomaterials for wound healing, bone tissue engineering and biosensors. Given that it's a vast and diverse topic, I'm currently working on a much more specific area of this field.

    MM: What fascinated you the most in taking up this opportunity?

    DY: In the field of tissue engineering, two main aspects fascinate me the most. While at my institute I have been doing a project on Biomimetic Materials and Polymeric Hydrogels, I wanted to pursue something related to Bionanomaterials, as it would allow me to combine my skills for potential projects in the future. Besides, I am certainly captivated by the teaching, research community and student cultures at the German Universities.

    MM: How has been your experience working with such intellects, and what long term benefits do you expect from this?

    DY: To be able to work with these high intellects has undoubtedly been an unforgettable experience. While it is worth noting that some kind of previous research experience in this field was beneficial, it not only allowed me to work more efficiently with my colleagues but also to work independently and think about some good ideas in my research project. The kind of exposure I received when working with my colleagues from various countries is, without a doubt, incredible and trust me you don't want to miss that!

    MM: Have you been facing any challenges during this internship?

    DY: It is certain that things would have been much better had the internship been by on-site means. For particular, as much of my research work needs a wet-lab, doing an online internship was challenging. Like every other intern in the laboratory, I had to cover stuff in a hand-free manner, trying to read the literature required, working on simulations and writing reports, reviews, etc. However, looking at the brighter picture, if the situation starts to improve and the labs open, I may be able to perform on-site research too.

    MM: Seeing the fact that many internships and jobs were being cancelled due to the unprecedented pandemic, how did you feel and what confusions you had, till your Internship started in May 2020?

    DY: I wasn't at all concerned about securing this internship because my professor had already told me about the situation, and she intended to start working on the project from May 2020. Nonetheless, I was apprehensive about whether I will be getting to visit Germany for conducting on-site research. But yes, due to the pandemic situation, most of the internship programmes that I applied to were already closed for the results.

    MM: How does the curriculum and academics of NIT Rourkela help in fetching such internships and then giving your best towards the projects you take up there?

    DY: My undergraduate programme in Biomedical Engineering has acquainted me with the necessary theoretical concepts, which also helped me during my project work. At the same time, working an extra inch helps you to learn new skills and support you with tasks outside of your coursework. I have always tried to maintain a healthy balance between my academic and research ventures, and I will continue to do so. Getting a good academic score is equally important in my perspective for shaping your future goals, particularly when you're planning to go for further research. Not only does it help to fetch a good scholarship at the universities abroad, but also makes your overall profile stronger and stand out from other applicants.

    MM: You have also been a part of some departmental projects in NIT Rourkela. Shed some light upon them, and how did they help you in bagging other internships and developing you as a whole?

    DY: Departmental projects often play an essential role in shaping your research profile. Such ventures would help you get a great international internship as well as support you when applying for your Masters. I have already completed two research projects in my department, in the past and also in my final year project at the moment. Such ventures have helped me, for what I know, to build a solid foundation for my past research experience based on which I earned both the Indian and the international Internship. I would suggest that you start by approaching the professor who works in your area of interest and asking him to give you a project.

    MM: Now that you have been a part of both foreign and Indian internships, what do you think are the differences between the two?

    DY: Having worked at both Indian and international universities, one thing I've noticed is the change in the way they operate. I was versatile to work at my chosen hours at IIT Delhi and was being asked for a weekly progress report, which is, in a way, good practice for independent research. When working at the University of Bielefeld, however, the schedule for the work was much more anticipated. Such an experience is also, in a way, an excellent opportunity to learn to work in a structured research environment. Furthermore, as most of the laboratory meetings or conversations were by electronic means, I had some difficulties in handling the variations in time zone. During my internship period at both these universities, my colleagues were very supportive. In fact, at the German University, I was myself guiding a final year Masters student as he was writing his first research paper.

    MM: What are your future goals and aspirations?

    DY: It's hard for me to say as of now if there's any particular institution I hope to get into. That's because I have never known things before when they're close to calling. However, I would like to go for higher studies in Biomedical Sciences and pursue my career as a multidisciplinary scholar, I am apparent.

    MM: On a concluding note, what is your advice to your juniors who want to follow your trail and pursue their field of interest, to reach the acme?

    Actually, there is a piece of advice I would like to give which once was given to me by my parents, not to follow anyone's trail, instead make one for your own. I would recommend keeping high ambitions while also not to get disappointed if you fail. There is always something for everyone, and that could come from anywhere. So, seek to be more flexible and open to opportunities rather than being very narrow in your research interests. I would like to end, having said enough, by advising you to present yourself as well as you can and then let them tell you why you are not eligible!!

    Team MM wishes Daman Yadav a glorious future and hopes that he keeps achieving what he aims, and keeps bringing laurels for himself, his family and the institute with his ground-breaking future works in the arena of research.

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  • 1

Internships are the prelude to, and the building blocks for one’s professional experience and imbibe student with practical comprehension and values to be learnt beyond the four walls of a classroom. An exuberant and high-spirited individual whose views largely focus on gaining knowledge with ease and interests, Daman Yadav, a final year B.Tech student from the Department of Biomedical Engineering of NIT Rourkela, has bagged a prestigious research internship at the Bielefeld University of Germany through DAAD. He has been a part of the much-sought-after IIT Delhi internship in his sophomore year, which in itself is awe-inspiring. The sagacious personality was also conferred with Award of Academic Excellence in the year 2018-19, and the coveted International Economic Development Council GRANT Scholarship in January 2020.

He has reached a position in his field of research which is apparent from the fact that he also has a paper published under his name in the esteemed International Journal of Biological Macromolecules. 

Team Monday Morning got an opportunity to catch up with an accomplished Daman Yadav, for an interview on his works and path to this podium.

Excerpts.

Monday Morning (MM): Tell us about your journey to NIT Rourkela and the reason behind you choosing Biomedical Engineering stream.

Daman Yadav (DY): To be honest, before I joined NIT Rourkela, I was never this serious about my life. I have always been as jovial and still have a fond memory of the school. Since my school days, I've never been a class topper and always pursued knowledge for the sake of it, while enjoying doing things that challenge me and hence keep exploring. I do have divergent interests.

It was my personal choice to opt for engineering, and my family always supported my decision. While exploring various fields of work, core branches of engineering never really fascinated me or caught my interest. It was at this time that I was profoundly intrigued by Biomedical Sciences, and I decided to pursue a career in a research field. In this sense, it wouldn't be unfair to say that I was selected by this field rather than the field getting chosen by me. This decision was consistent with my prior curiosity towards biology, although I never really gave it a thought before. The only primary reason to choose this position at an engineering college was to join the medical line to be able to work in Biomedical Sciences at the top research institutes.

Coming from Delhi, while I could have chosen from many colleges around here, I decided NIT Rourkela solely because of its above-par rankings among all the other NITs and an above-average course curriculum matching some of the top medical institutes in India. I have never been unhappy with my decision since the day I joined here, and have always concentrated on building a proper academic profile, which will lay the ground for a good future.

MM: You did your first Internship in your sophomore year at IIT Delhi. How did you get to know about this Internship? Enlighten us about the application procedure of the same.

DY: I began exploring research opportunities in my department after the completion of my first year itself. I was already very aware that I wanted to pursue higher studies, and for that, building a robust research profile was imperative. Just as I entered my sophomore year, I approached a professor from our department and soon began collaborating with him on a project. This helped me develop realistic ideas as it was my first project, and I got used to the wet-lab handling protocols. By the end of my sophomore year, I had already undertaken a small project on the beta-amyloid synthesis and studying their biochemical properties to understand various Neurodegenerative diseases. Besides, I was also involved in writing a research paper that got me used to the idea of research writing, right from the early stages. Then I began applying for various internship programmes starting with the Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS) fellowship around November, concentrating solely on the Indian internships. By the end of March, I received a letter of acceptance for being chosen in the IIT Ropar Internship programme.

Daman's Reseach work at IIT Delhi

Nanoparticle synthesis

Meanwhile, via the mail, I also tried contacting several professors who were working and were stalwarts in my field of interest, trying to communicate with them personally.

I highly suggest visiting the website of the Institute and going through all the professors' web profiles as professors pick the students they have already contacted and assessed personally, including for specific internship programmes. In addition, contacting professors individually via mail helps you to describe your inspiration and expectations for research in a flexible way.

Throughout the entire internship phase, my teachers, seniors and particularly my department HOD were very supportive and cordial. For second years, there are no unique internship programmes at IIT Delhi until your work profile and past projects are sufficiently compelling to attract the attention of the professor.

Begin sending the mails by the end of February and expecting to get a reply as soon as possible. It is best to keep your mail cover letter short and concise while writing emails.

I received a letter of acceptance from a professor at the IIT Delhi Biomedical Engineering Center, and she asked me to join the internship for three months. Certainly, there was more than one reason why IIT Delhi was chosen over the previous. This was mainly because here I got to work on an independent project that coincided with my long-term research goals correctly. Generally, as compared to international programmes, the application process is relatively straightforward, but I always recommend that you develop some previous research experience to improve your chances of selection.

MM: What was your field of research there? What new and innovative did you learn there, and how was your overall experience there?

DY: I was working at IIT Delhi to develop advanced 3D-bioprinted polymeric hydrogel composite scaffolds for the Bone tissue engineering applications. This project demonstrates the ability of dual cross-linking in polymer structures to improve their overall mechanical strength and other biochemical properties. I have received an acknowledgement from my work here at the institute in a research paper that was later published. I also learned to synthesise Gold, Silver nanoparticles through chemical reduction and Carbon dots, Polyethylene glycol (PEG) nanoparticles via autoclave hydrothermal cycle, as part of my internship project. My internship project allowed me to conduct the comprehensive chemical and mechanical scaffold characterisation, for which I studied various software, including 3D-Printer interface, Solidworks 3D, Cura engine.

Daman Yadav's research work at IIT Delhi

3D Bioprinting

Although working at IIT Delhi has its perks, but specifically, when compared to the labs here at NIT Rourkela, I feel there is more versatility in using the high-quality Characterization Instruments from the central facility. Everyone in the laboratory, including the professor, PhD, Postdoc and Masters students, was accommodating in all respects. The other interns who served in the laboratory were very helpful and welcoming too. I enjoyed doing my project for these three months and learning new theoretical concepts. The campus wasn't foreign to me being from the same city, but hanging out with these lovely people during the break sessions was what I enjoyed most.

Daman Yadav's experience at IIT Delhi

MM: At the end of your third year, you got the opportunity of a coveted research internship at the Bielefeld University of Germany. How did you come across this foreign Internship? Enlighten us about the application procedure.

DY: I already had some previous research experience when I reached the third year, and so I was aware that I had to work in the area of Tissue Engineering and Bionanomaterials. I started working on another related project which also allowed me to learn the handling of animal blood and the culture of cells. I began applying for numerous international internship programmes by this time.

As the call for foreign internship programs commences by mid-August, it is advisable to check for all available internship programmes in different countries and organise them in an Excel sheet based on the starting date of application. This would keep things in order and therefore lower the risk of missing deadlines for any particular programme.

DAAD Wise is a scholarship programme that selects a handful of students each year who wish to pursue a 2-3 month research internship at a German Higher Education Institute, which is publicly funded. Applications for this programme will begin in September and will expire by October. Applying for this scholarship programme requires the applicant to have an outstanding academic record and some work experience beforehand. While the minimum CGPA requirements are 8.5, keeping it as enjoyable as possible is advisable. Also, your research profile should be consistently reliable and, most significantly, your letter of motivation should be convincing but still real. I think the DAAD (for Germany) and the CHARPAK (for France) are two of the most successful initiatives that assess both academic and research skills. The application procedure for the same is quite complicated because it allows you to have a letter of acceptance from any publicly funded German University before beginning the application process. I started by listing German teachers in my area of interest and sending them emails concerning the same.

I suggest talking in less depth about your previous work experience because it makes the cover letter lengthy and pompous to read. Alternatively, seek to include any skills you've acquired through this period, publications and other accomplishments that the professor may be interested in. Not to mention, add your letter Resume, Transcript and Motivation letter as a separate link to the Google drive.

As you are beginning to send emails from August-end itself, you should have the acceptance letter handy not later than the mid-October as you should keep enough time to complete the application process and to be able to send the hard copies of your forms to the DAAD's Delhi office (German Embassy). I received a letter of acceptance from a professor at the University of Bielefeld and RWTH Aachen University. DAAD allows you the ability to pick more than one university in case you receive a letter of acceptance from both while later you can choose from anybody. Unfortunately, with the current situation, the programme has been cancelled for our batch, we have had to continue the work by online means.

MM: What has been your area of research in this Internship?

DY: I worked on a project involving the use of carbon nanofiber-based biomaterials for wound healing, bone tissue engineering and biosensors. Given that it's a vast and diverse topic, I'm currently working on a much more specific area of this field.

MM: What fascinated you the most in taking up this opportunity?

DY: In the field of tissue engineering, two main aspects fascinate me the most. While at my institute I have been doing a project on Biomimetic Materials and Polymeric Hydrogels, I wanted to pursue something related to Bionanomaterials, as it would allow me to combine my skills for potential projects in the future. Besides, I am certainly captivated by the teaching, research community and student cultures at the German Universities.

MM: How has been your experience working with such intellects, and what long term benefits do you expect from this?

DY: To be able to work with these high intellects has undoubtedly been an unforgettable experience. While it is worth noting that some kind of previous research experience in this field was beneficial, it not only allowed me to work more efficiently with my colleagues but also to work independently and think about some good ideas in my research project. The kind of exposure I received when working with my colleagues from various countries is, without a doubt, incredible and trust me you don't want to miss that!

MM: Have you been facing any challenges during this internship?

DY: It is certain that things would have been much better had the internship been by on-site means. For particular, as much of my research work needs a wet-lab, doing an online internship was challenging. Like every other intern in the laboratory, I had to cover stuff in a hand-free manner, trying to read the literature required, working on simulations and writing reports, reviews, etc. However, looking at the brighter picture, if the situation starts to improve and the labs open, I may be able to perform on-site research too.

MM: Seeing the fact that many internships and jobs were being cancelled due to the unprecedented pandemic, how did you feel and what confusions you had, till your Internship started in May 2020?

DY: I wasn't at all concerned about securing this internship because my professor had already told me about the situation, and she intended to start working on the project from May 2020. Nonetheless, I was apprehensive about whether I will be getting to visit Germany for conducting on-site research. But yes, due to the pandemic situation, most of the internship programmes that I applied to were already closed for the results.

MM: How does the curriculum and academics of NIT Rourkela help in fetching such internships and then giving your best towards the projects you take up there?

DY: My undergraduate programme in Biomedical Engineering has acquainted me with the necessary theoretical concepts, which also helped me during my project work. At the same time, working an extra inch helps you to learn new skills and support you with tasks outside of your coursework. I have always tried to maintain a healthy balance between my academic and research ventures, and I will continue to do so. Getting a good academic score is equally important in my perspective for shaping your future goals, particularly when you're planning to go for further research. Not only does it help to fetch a good scholarship at the universities abroad, but also makes your overall profile stronger and stand out from other applicants.

MM: You have also been a part of some departmental projects in NIT Rourkela. Shed some light upon them, and how did they help you in bagging other internships and developing you as a whole?

DY: Departmental projects often play an essential role in shaping your research profile. Such ventures would help you get a great international internship as well as support you when applying for your Masters. I have already completed two research projects in my department, in the past and also in my final year project at the moment. Such ventures have helped me, for what I know, to build a solid foundation for my past research experience based on which I earned both the Indian and the international Internship. I would suggest that you start by approaching the professor who works in your area of interest and asking him to give you a project.

MM: Now that you have been a part of both foreign and Indian internships, what do you think are the differences between the two?

DY: Having worked at both Indian and international universities, one thing I've noticed is the change in the way they operate. I was versatile to work at my chosen hours at IIT Delhi and was being asked for a weekly progress report, which is, in a way, good practice for independent research. When working at the University of Bielefeld, however, the schedule for the work was much more anticipated. Such an experience is also, in a way, an excellent opportunity to learn to work in a structured research environment. Furthermore, as most of the laboratory meetings or conversations were by electronic means, I had some difficulties in handling the variations in time zone. During my internship period at both these universities, my colleagues were very supportive. In fact, at the German University, I was myself guiding a final year Masters student as he was writing his first research paper.

MM: What are your future goals and aspirations?

DY: It's hard for me to say as of now if there's any particular institution I hope to get into. That's because I have never known things before when they're close to calling. However, I would like to go for higher studies in Biomedical Sciences and pursue my career as a multidisciplinary scholar, I am apparent.

MM: On a concluding note, what is your advice to your juniors who want to follow your trail and pursue their field of interest, to reach the acme?

Actually, there is a piece of advice I would like to give which once was given to me by my parents, not to follow anyone's trail, instead make one for your own. I would recommend keeping high ambitions while also not to get disappointed if you fail. There is always something for everyone, and that could come from anywhere. So, seek to be more flexible and open to opportunities rather than being very narrow in your research interests. I would like to end, having said enough, by advising you to present yourself as well as you can and then let them tell you why you are not eligible!!

Team MM wishes Daman Yadav a glorious future and hopes that he keeps achieving what he aims, and keeps bringing laurels for himself, his family and the institute with his ground-breaking future works in the arena of research.

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