“The moment I stepped into IIT Bombay, I knew I wanted to be there. This place had the very environment I wanted (including playgrounds and people to play with!). My PhD interviews there went really well and I was hoping for a positive outcome.

I was in Bangalore, interviewing for IISc when the list of selected candidates for PhD at IITB came out. I remember sitting outside the interview room and checking my phone for the results. I didn’t see my name the first time I opened the website and before I could wait to refresh the page, I was called in for my microbiology interview. The first thing I was asked was to spell Escherichia coli on the board and the interviewers playfully congratulated me on being the first person to actually spell it right!

When I stepped out and checked the IITB website again, I found out I had indeed got into my dream institute. I still decided to go for one more interview at NCBS Bangalore just for the experience and I wanted to meet my friends who were also going there. I was the last person to be called in there and when I entered, one of the interviewers exclaimed “Oh you aren’t a girl. I was expecting a girl!”. “Sorry to disappoint you ma’am”, I quipped back!

I have been fortunate to receive good laboratory exposures and mentorship throughout my college life. It got me a good number of publications even before I had embarked on my PhD journey.

My laboratory in IITB is equally good. I hardly face any problem with my colleagues or my supervisor here. Obviously, there are days when it is hard to stay motivated. Motivation in PhD is like a sine curve, with its own ups and downs. I start my experiments with the confidence that I will make it work in one shot, but it doesn’t always happen and I get immensely upset. That is perhaps the only challenge I face. My supervisor is one of the best human beings I have come across in my life and all my peers have the freedom to barge into his office whenever faced with a problem. He is always there to help.

My research is fueled by passion but life can get monotonous at times. I recommend everyone in this field to inculcate at least one hobby where they can find some solace. When I am not doing science, I like to sketch and try out new art ideas. Along with that, I am learning graphic designing and sometimes do small scale freelancing projects. I would have been almost as happy doing this full time if it absolutely had to be something else. But honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way!”

-Parijat Das, PhD in Biosciences and Bioengineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay

Editor’s note: When Parijat talked about his talent for graphic designing, we immediately jumped on the opportunity and asked him to design a logo for ‘PhDs of India’. And he very kindly did. Thank you Parijat!

Inspired from HONY and HOB; bringing you stories of unsung heroes of our society: PhD students. For sharing yours, email us at: phdsofindia@gmail.com!