Tanya (at the right) went through a drastic change during her internship in Bangalore. Apart from researching she also enjoyed each moment and shared great bonds with everyone. That place will live in her memories forever.
Hello everyone, my name is Tanya Agarwal, Chemical Engineering 3rd Year student at National Institute of Technology Hamirpur. After lot of painstaking fights with the administration I managed to grab the opportunity to work as the Summer Research fellow at the Indian Institute of Science for the period of two months and this two months stay is probably the best two months of my life in terms of everything. Before I share my internship experience, I would like to highlight that before this, I applied at nine-ten other internship programs which I could not grab – some because I wasn’t eligible enough, some because of the delays at administration level.
Fast forwarding – and thanking all the failures which actually cleared my way – I ended up at IISc Bangalore, probably the best place to experience the research environment in India. The lush green campus instantly captured my attention as I entered the campus. I reached the college on Sunday as my professor was leaving for France on Monday and I had to get the Joining letter signed by him. The roads in campus were quite confusing but I managed to reach my department. My professor was absent that day but one of the PhD scholars there helped me with the places.
Our accommodation was arranged at the IAS Academy Fellows Residency and the facilities were quite much for a student. All these things were taken care of by the academy. The very first day when I went to my Professor, he was engaged with one of his PhD. I knocked the door and he was like, ”Who are you?” For a while I was mum. Soon he was able to recall and offered me a seat. After sharing a few words with his student on the project they were discussing, he instantly said” Why don’t you work with him?” He asked me to work with that student on “The Electrochemistry of Human Insulin,” an entirely different area for me.
I had previously worked in Material Sciences so I was not really interested in the work assigned. He asked me about my previous work experience and before I could complete he said “No, No, No! This is a completely different work. I think this would be really interesting. You will enjoy the work” and then told his student “Give her some books to get some hand on the area”. His student seem pretty unsatisfied with his decision and it didn’t take me too long to understand the reason why he was so much uncomfortable with the idea of me, as a student under him. Quite funny indeed!
My PhD guide was named “Rudra Samajhdar”, a very innocent and sincere guy. He took me to the lab and showed me the apparatus and the instruments we would be working with. To start with and to help me become comfortable with the technique, we initially performed some experiments to standardize the system. To be frank, it was really boring to sit before a machine and see different CV’s (Cyclic Voltammogram) developing. I find the work really irritating for quite few days. My guide is probably the best person as a teacher and a friend I met there. On the first day he asked me to prepare solutions of certain molarity and measure weights. Then he explained me the Cyclic Voltammetry apparatus. I was given some books to get a handsome experience about the area. For some days it was a pain to go to the lab and record those CVs but when I started understanding the relevance of the technique, the work became interesting and I became enthusiastic to explore more about it.
I worked in the “Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit” and it was one of the coolest departments there. While in the other labs the PhD’s were always busy with their work and had no time to interact with summer fellows, our Lab environment was different. I am introvert so after a few days one of the PhD in our lab introduced me to all the lab members and from then we all had several treats and parties together. She came and said” There is no learning in sitting here and reading. You can do it back home too. Interact with the people here. That’s true learning!” She is like a sister to me. My co-guide asked me not to come to the lab on Saturdays and Sundays and have a look round the campus and explore Bangalore. He was really that one person in the college I cannot forget. You only need to start some discussion and then he was able enough to end it well. He seemed to know almost anything yet being so humble and down to earth. And this was not just with him. It was with everyone I met there. This is probably the mark of educated people. I also attended an “International Conference on Frontiers in Material Science”. I had no paper but being a part of IISc that time, I was allowed to attend it and I got exposure to so many exciting areas of research and all the amazing work going in them. There were several special lectures organized by the Academy for us, followed by a high tea. There was a “Twenty Sixth Mid-term meeting” organized for the summer fellows where scientists from round the country conducted lectures on the several interesting research areas. It was a two day event and was really outstanding. During our stay there, birth anniversary of Prof. D. D. Sharma was celebrated, a very renowned person there. His fellow researchers and scientists round the world came to wish him. We also got an opportunity to hear Dr. C. N. R. Rao, the founder of Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit and the winner of Bharat Ratna. Being his teacher, he talked about him and even at this age he was full of energy and enthusiasm. It was really a pleasure to listen to him in person.
Enough of what I learned, there was a lot of fun too. I had several good friends at the Academy and we use to hang out on weekends. We visited a umber of temples and malls and enjoyed the South Indian Cuisine. We had several trips organized by the Academy as well and the trip to Mysore Palace and Vrindavan Garden was the best. It also helped us in interacting with other fellows at Academy and share ideas and experiences. The funniest part of the place was the language. One of my roomie was Tamil and every day the clock strikes 8:00 in the evening she used to get engaged in talk with her mother. Everything she talks goes above our head and the same with her too. But she too was a great friend and we shared a lot. One of the worst experience during this stay was a seminar I was supposed to given on “Laser Spectroscopy” and I took it a bit casually as I was more focused on my project and the seminar day was Ah!. My seminar finished before I could properly start, with just few questions on the timescale of the events in laser at the atomic level, by my Professor. But I did not cry. I was sorry to my Professor and he was so sweet to respond “No, you did not read the right material. I wanted an understanding of laser and not the technique!” I learned to look at things from such a fundamental level for the first time in my life. At the end of the eight week duration, I had to submit my detailed progress report and a presentation again. But this time it went really well. I left the professor impressed and satisfied with my work. I went to him to say goodbye and we shake hands. It was such a great feeling. I was almost to tears when I was leaving the place. Whether lab members or the fellows at Academy or the staff there, the people were so nice that two months were too short with them. The toughest part was to leave the college. The way we spend our day there and the work satisfaction when we use to get back to the Academy, was holding me back to return to my college. Every day there was something new to learn. Not only I learned new techniques, the place transferred my understanding of things and me as a person too. If I happen to get a chance I would wish to work there again.
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