Meet Harshita Shet

Harshita, a graduate in organic chemistry, is pursuing her PhD at the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, under the supervision of Prof. Anant R Kapdi. Her research work focuses on transition metal mediated synthesis and modification of nucleosides and significant biological molecules

Discovering the researcher within
“My father was and is always the biggest influence on building that passion.”

Watching her father, who is a doctorate in chemistry and a professional chemist, Harshita developed an early love for chemistry. It all began when Harshita was very young and she used to see her father working on the chemical reactions, looking for scientific solutions and explaining the significance of all the things scientifically that they came across in everyday life. All this fascinated Harshita then and even now, chemistry never fails to amaze her. This has driven her not only to appreciate the beauty of chemical science but also to dedicate her life to understand the basics of chemistry and to do new chemistry.

Best Bits, Worst Bits

Getting PhD is never easy. The road to this is often long, strenuous, and requires commitment and perseverance. There are good days and bad days as well. Some days are productive while the other days, the motivation to stay focused is nowhere to be found. In Harshita’s two years of the research journey, the toughest period was the research amid the covid-19 pandemic. “Research amid covid-19 is truly difficult since the resources needed for research are minimized, thereby affecting the productivity as well as planning. With some labs open, research is restricted as we need to work in shifts in order to minimize crowding in labs.” Harshita is dealing with this in the right way and has tried utilizing the lockdown period for writing research articles and review papers based on the work done which she counts as the best reward during these times.

Striving for work-life balance

It sometimes seems that PhD student is expected to work all the time without checking the clock, to show up in the lab every weekend, and stay late in lab every day. However, one needs to strike a perceived sense of balance between work and life: making time for activities outside PhD, indulge in some hobbies, have a healthy social life that take care of the overall wellness of the individual.
Harshita believes- “The life of a research scholar is not time-bound, sometimes we need to work overnight in the lab. It is very important to balance between our Ph.D. life and personal life to boost productivity in research as well as to keep ourselves enthusiastic about the work. So one should also indulge themselves in doing other activities during free time, which makes them refreshed and take care of their health. Spend time with family as well.”


Advice for PhD aspirants

“Having good academic records is not good enough, one should be ready to make sacrifices, have patience, curiosity to know new things, and ability to withstand the failures coming across. In my opinion PhD demands, self-motivation to take up the challenges, strong determination and the hunger to know more. The Ph.D. is not about taking courses like bachelors or masters, it’s about dedicating the years to research, defining our own research agenda based on ongoing research and working independently under the supervision of advisor to achieve the goals.”

Compiled by
Piyushi Nautiyal,
Science communication and Outreach Manager, India UK ISCC