Chris, a graduate in chemistry, is a final year PhD student at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Thiruvananthapuram working under the supervision of Prof. R. S. Swathi. Her work focuses on developing the optimal parameters for empirical potentials for nanostructures.Discovering the researcher within
A quality essential for every PhD aspirant is self-motivation. In my second year of undergraduate studies, I had gone for a summer research project at NCL, Pune and I realized that I was able to keep myself motivated despite not getting the expected results during the initial period. I kept on working with the same interest throughout and was able to successfully complete the project. Although the project was experimental and I moved on to theoretical research for my PhD, it taught me the importance of persistence while pursuing research.
I have heard about the integrated PhD course offered at IISER TVM and got interested in joining the program. Having attended Dr. Swathi’s lectures during course work, I was intrigued to learn more. I then visited her lab and asked for starting a winter project. She suggested to work on a research problem dealing with approximate analytical modeling approaches for nanostructures, and, upon its completion, I had made up my mind to join her lab.
Computational time and resources at the disposal of theoreticians are rather limited, and in my work, I attempt to cut down both using approximate analytical modeling methodologies. This paves the way for modeling large-scale complex systems similar to real-world structures, which is unachievable through conventional approaches. I enjoy making complex things simpler and I get this fulfillment through my research.
Science in lockdown
Being a theoretical chemist, I always had the option to work remotely. But, the lack of a lab environment had a big impact on my research. Constant discussion with the labmates has always been a part of my research and therefore a sudden loss of this interaction made research more difficult.Life outside of work
I keep a set timing for lab hours. A healthy life outside the lab directly correlates to the productivity in the lab. Outside of my research work, I like to read and go for short walks in my campus which is gardenesque. I like to hang out and relax with my friends on weekends. This keeps me charged up to kickstart my work again with a fresh mind on Monday mornings.Thriving, and not just surviving
PhD has been no cakewalk for me, but there have been moments that made me feel that all the struggles are worth it. I have always been apprehensive of presenting on stage, but I overcame this fear in my second year when I presented my research for a conference and secured one of the best oral presentation awards. It is always fulfilling when the audience comprehends and appreciates the details of our work.