“I had an inclination towards the topic of space technology and satellite communications while pursuing my Bachelor’s in Electronics and Communications. I not only loved watching satellite launches by ISRO, but I also noted down the details of the satellites, including the materials used, name and date of the mission, and the like. One time, I even had to plead to one of my professors to let me finish my assessment early just so that I could see a satellite launch.
However, even though I was extremely passionate about satellites, my subject trajectory took a different turn under the influence of Dr. Raghavan — Senior HAG Professor from NIT Tiruchirappalli who had come to give a talk on Antennas and Microwave Engineering in a conference, where I was one of the organizers. Over time, he became a mentor-figure to me and motivated me to pursue a PhD.
While applying, I initially faced multiple rejections and was almost at the point of giving up, when Dr. Raghavan asked me to give my best shot at VIT. By then, my area of interest had taken a significant shift towards biomedical engineering of breast cancer detection; Dr. Raghavan motivated and guided me to prepare well for entrance examinations and asked me to apply to the PhD program of VIT where I eventually joined.
My primary motivation for working in this field was Dr. Shanta, a Padma Shri awardee, who ran a cancer institute dedicated to giving treatment to every afflicted patient and was the Chairman of Adyar Institute. I had just met her once in an international conference on Cancer awareness and she had promised me that she would help me in my research if needed.
Unfortunately, she passed away six months before at the age of 92. Her demise deeply impacted me but also made my will stronger to work hard on my PhD. With the ongoing pandemic, it has been quite difficult, I must admit. I haven’t had the chance to visit my laboratory or meet my colleagues yet. But I am positive and hope that we will be returning to normalcy soon.
My aim in life is to serve my country and if not a PhD, I think I would have tried for Civil Services to fulfill that purpose.”
-Prasanna P, PhD in Biomedical Engineering, Vellore Institute of Technology, Chennai
Interviewed and written by Rashmi Nautiyal, Debalina Acharyya and Payel Das