An Indian PhD in astrophysics is doing the rounds of academia and is hoping for a place at the front of the pack.
Nityanandsamanth is one of the most promising PhD candidates I have ever seen.
I was lucky enough to meet her recently and after some phone calls, we decided to write an article together.
This article is based on our conversation and I am sure it will be of interest to many students in India as well.
The above picture shows Nityansamanth in her postgraduate year of Physics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, India.
She will complete her PhD in Astrophysics from the Indian Institute of Science, Ahmedabad in January 2019.
Nitiesamanth has been in the JNU programme for 2 years now and is a very keen student.
Her father is a senior researcher in astronomy at the JNSU and Nityasamanth’s mother is a retired scientist at the university.
“The biggest challenge of my career is the time constraints.
I am studying for the PhD in astro-physics at the moment.
I have a few years left in my PhD program.
I have to take time off from my job and then I will take a job in the astrophysics department.
The first few months of my PhD I will be working at the Astrophysical Observatory of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ASRO),” she said.
But even though she has a very good academic record, Nitiesamanta’s biggest hurdle is the cost of her PhD. In her thesis, she has proposed to provide research support to her mother for the cost, while the other half of the cost will be shared between her mother and her father.
It was a challenge for Nitiesammanth to find a funding source to support her.
What she came up with was an ingenious way to make sure that she gets her PhD at an affordable price.
A team of scientists and academics from the National Institute of Astrophysicists (NIAS) was instrumental in the development of Nityamanths plan.
When the Nityams’ father, a retired researcher, died suddenly in 2012, they decided to support him financially by sending money to the family for his last months in hospital.
At that time, the family had no income.
So, their only option was to donate money to their mother.
There was no way of knowing whether the money would be spent on the PhD or for Nityanas mother to help her husband in his dying hours.
So the NIAS team decided to use a funding platform to help the family.
They asked people from different disciplines in the university to apply for the funding.
On the application form, the team asked for a minimum amount of Rs.1 lakh, while if a researcher had enough money, they were happy to pay for the research.
NIAS and other government agencies also assisted the Nitiesanams and their mother in their quest to raise money.
After a couple of months of applying for funding, the NIas team got their first application.
That was on February 3, 2016.
An official from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the government agency informed Nityats mother that they had received her first application from the NIAs and that they were preparing the funds.
Soon after that, the Nitsamannas received their first grant.
Two weeks later, Nityani was accepted to the NIATS program for the duration of her first year of research.
Nitesamanta told me that the grant was very good.
As she is a researcher, she was also working for the National Institutes of Space Technology (NISOT), and this grant provided her with the necessary support to complete her research.
“As a researcher I need a certain level of support to achieve my work.
I was able to obtain this funding because of NIAS’ work in the field.
Since I was not expecting this grant, I was very excited,” she said, referring to the funding of her second year of PhD. The NIAS grant has allowed Nitiesamananth to travel to India to study.
For Nitiesamnant, the experience has been very rewarding.
While she is not studying at any particular institution, she enjoys working with scientists from across the world and getting to know them as they share their expertise with her.
The students are very friendly and she likes to share her knowledge with them.
With this, she is hoping to be accepted into other institutes and universities.
According to her, she hopes to become an important scientist in the future.
Now, the journey begins.
To prepare for her PhD, Niyantam