““Eliminate all other factors, and the one that remains must be true”- Sherlock Holmes.
Like this statement, I have been very clear headed since childhood about what to do and what not to. I was convinced very early on that I did not want to take up mathematics, physics or chemistry for higher studies. Although I hated biology initially, I got some amazing teachers during my school days which ignited my love for the subject. After schooling, I had two options: either pursue medical or do graduation in botany or microbiology.
During those days, microbiology was a very upcoming subject with a promising future. I decided to go with that, not just for Bachelor’s but eventually for Master’s as well. When I look back, this was the most pivotal decision in my life that decided my future. Our Master’s coursework and training are geared to prepare us for academia, hence, continuing to receive a PhD was no brainer for me.
I had initially decided that I would go abroad for further studies. I was the first person in my family to venture into these foreign territories. I soon realized that GRE and TOEFL alone weren’t enough to ensure my admission in foreign institutions. I also needed to have some research experiences that would boost my resume. In those times, finding a supervisor who would train me and help me get the required experience to apply abroad was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. However, I finally found one who was willing to guide me. The laboratory was working on a very novel project which I fell in love with and instead of going abroad, I decided to continue my PhD in the same place.
The reality of a PhD life soon struck me and I had to overcome a lot of personal battles to be successful in it. PhD in India not just trains you to do science but it also trains you to handle a lot of interpersonal relations. And though that training might seem important, it also deviates you from your actual goal and hurts the progress of your work.
When I started my journey, I tried to appease everybody to maintain a harmonious working environment. As time passed by, I realized that only a handful people in my laboratory were governing the environmental dynamics and it became increasingly difficult for me to traverse through those. I often thought of leaving PhD and finding something else…