Tell us about your Graduate Program:
Ph.D. Materials and Nanotechnology
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur – Materials and Metallurgical Engineering
How did you hear about NDSU?
In an email from an advisor to the department at my undergraduate university.
How long have you been at NDSU?
Why did you choose to attend NDSU for your program?
North Dakota State University is a world class institution where faculty, staff, and students constantly make breakthroughs at the frontier of the science. The university has among the best graduate schools in the world and offers excellent opportunities for research in Materials Science and Engineering.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?
Materials have played a key role in changing the very way we live, and materials define the age we live in. The future will bring ever-increasing challenges and opportunities for new materials and better processing, so the field of material sciences will continue to play a major role in the enhancement of human life. Thus, it is the importance and wide scope of this field, and my penchant for the field and research, which has motivated me to pursue my graduate studies in the field of Materials Engineering.
My fascination with the field of Materials and Metallurgy and orientation towards research oriented work grew in my sophomore year when I did a course “Properties of Materials” taught by one of my undergraduate Professor at IIT Kanpur. It was during this course that I came across the various complexities involved with Materials Science. I have discovered new prospects of material sciences when I wrote term-papers on “Application of X-Ray Tomography in Material Characterization” and “Advantages of Silicon Carbide Coating on Carbon Materials” in my regular semester courses and, finally, when I attended an international conference on nanotechnology at my undergraduate university. Since then, I have decided to pursue Ph.D. in material science and must continue my study so as to realize my dream of being a scientist in the field of materials.
What research and teaching opportunities have you had at NDSU?
At NDSU, I have worked extensively on synthesis, characterization and finite element modeling of biocomposites. My current area of research is focused on design and development of bone like synthetic and biological systems. Here, I developed structure-property relationships of polycaprolactone nanoclay composite, which provide a detailed insight into the next generation of bone biomaterials for tissue regeneration.
I also collaborated with five research groups in a nanoagriculture project and effectively used my molecular dynamics experience to explain the interaction mechanism in plant DNA and carbon nanotubes. My results helped in providing an insight into changes observed in plant health and output.
In addition to research, I was a teaching assistant for three semesters, where I worked to understand and respond to the students’ questions while they tackled complex concepts. I also mentored several students in the material testing lab who have gone on to graduate school and engineering jobs in the industry.
What do you enjoy or appreciate most about NDSU?
NDSU is growing, and the faculty and staff are warm, caring and welcoming. NDSU has a lot of great opportunities to work in research labs, travel abroad, and get internships. NDSU provides several opportunities to learn new methods and modern techniques, has good working conditions, and provides tuition waivers and assistantships to meritorious students. You get a chance to meet other scientists and people in industry from within your field. There are many activities going on all year round at NDSU that keep you engaged with the community and allow you to grow outside academia.
What do you enjoy or appreciate most about the F-M area?
I personally enjoy the arts, parades, and other events that Fargo has to offer. The low crime rate and cost of living make this town ideal for graduate students and especially international students, which allows them to experience the F/M area as part of their home town. The F/M community is amazing towards NDSU students and everyone is willing to help. During every flood season local community teams up with NDSU students and spend time working in the Fargodome to fill sand bags and help build dikes along the Red River. There are several interesting local cultural events organized by campus and city of Fargo. You have free public transport for NDSU students, many local restaurants offer discounts to NDSU students, for enjoyment there are several good places downtown with varieties of shopping stores. Overall, Fargo is a welcoming, happy, helpful community that appreciates everyone here.
What is the best thing about your program?
The research being carried out at North Dakota State University in Materials Science is both diverse and innovative. Here, you are allowed to pursue whatever project you want and decide which problems you want to work on. This gives you intellectual freedom to develop creative and groundbreaking scientific discoveries. We have weekly group seminars where guests, faculty and students present their work, which gives us exposure to different research. The research in our program is engaging, fun, and collaborative between faculty and students. Apart from research, you can enjoy your passion for teaching and motivate students through their first step in their careers.
What is your favorite story or memory from your time at NDSU so far?
I have several great memories during my stay at NDSU like participating in homecoming to cheering for the Bison, organizing events in student organizations to working on launching a department newsletter. The best memory I have is when I worked in the Graduate Student Association on the medical insurance for graduate students. Our team had worked for several months and put together a new improved medical insurance plan. We met several leaders and members in NDSU administration, talked to different medical insurance providers, collected data from different universities about their medical insurance plans and gave presentations at different platforms to convince different stake holders about the issue. The efforts were paid off when the medical insurance was changed with a better and cheaper medical plan for graduate students.
What are your interests and hobbies?
My passion for taking initiatives and challenging myself has motivated me to work outside the academic research domain. I successfully reactivated the Materials Research Society student organization and started a departmental newsletter at North Dakota State University. I completely redesigned the civil and environmental engineering department (www.ndsu.edu/ce) website. I am an active member of ASCE, ASTM and MRS.
Apart from this I love baking and cooking different cuisines, especially Mexican (chili and tacos). During my undergraduate career, I was involved in dramatics and won several awards at the inter university level. I also like traveling (have traveled to 10 countries so far), photography and camping.
Why should someone consider graduate school at NDSU?
The school is research based and offers a lot of opportunities to the graduate students. NDSU Graduate School gives you space to master new skills and the opportunity to work in state of the art laboratories. The equipment is cutting edge and unique for world class research. The research/class work ratio is very comfortable and allows you to focus on your research. Most of the professors are great at making their class fun and informative. They are easily approachable and have positive attitudes toward their students. NDSU offers a number of student services for graduate students, such as Graduate Student Council, daycare, health services, and health insurance. The safety and security in NDSU is 24×7 with foot and vehicle patrols, emergency telephones, lighted pathways and sidewalks. Also, alcohol and smoking is banned on campus. This gives you a sense of security and home like environment.
How will this program benefit you in your career?
The graduate program in Materials and Nanotechnology at NDSU introduced me to a wide gamut of subjects, both in and outside the field. The intellectually stimulating environment with teaching excellence and well-equipped laboratories and study space has nurtured in me a great appreciation for science and technology. With the help of competitive course projects, I have not only developed a better understanding of my concepts, but also the ability to approach a problem from different dimensions. I believe that the graduate program at NDSU enabled me to hone my technical and analytical skills and provided me an aptitude and motivation that will help me to face all the possible challenges as and when they hurdle my pathway in the future.
What has been your biggest academic accomplishment so far?
I was ranked among the top 0.5% of all students appearing (more than 500K) for IIT-JEE exam in 2005 (one of the prestigious competition in India for engineering). I received dean scholarship in the final year of my undergraduate. In the U.S., I published three journal papers and several conference presentations. I received travel grants in NDSU to attend national and international conferences.
What piece of advice would you give to graduate school applicants?
Finding the right graduate school for yourself is a full time job in itself. It is really important to look and learn about your prospective school, department, program and advisor. Consider graduate research as a marathon and therefore prepare yourself for a long run. This demands patience, persistence, focus and hard work. In graduate school, you will get a chance to interact with new people from different walks of life and with different experience; take full use of it. Do not restrict yourself only with your own area of research but explore and learn as much as you can about everything that graduate school life offers. Do networking, from day one. It is absolutely essential not only during graduate school but also when you will leave the school. When you are in graduate school, make new friends, enjoy your hobbies, pursue your passion outside research, study different subjects, polish your skills and learn most of the equipment in your research, because this is the last time you will have the time, opportunity and resources to try all of these things.