Introducing Researcher's Enigma
It was difficult for me to find a clear path in this research journey due to a lack of information, and therefore through this website, we aim to help students struggling in this ever-so-vulnerable career. Lack of information, exposure, and resources are consistent if you belong to a small town.
Through this website, we try to introduce various options related to the scientific career. Also, a section within this website has been dedicated to explain techniques frequently used in different research labs. This will particularly help those who lack in hands-on training due to various reasons and will allow conceptualizing basics introduced in various stages of academics.
I was born and brought up in a small town in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, India. The road towards life science and research was more accidental than planned. While opting for PCB (Physics, Chemistry, Biology) during higher secondary, I wanted to pursue Biotechnology as a career since the subject name sounded fancy. This immaturity persisted throughout my research career (the side effect of belonging to a small town) and helped me subtly understand science rather than grasping it for memory and marks. I was an under-average student who consistently struggled with anxiety and depression in school. It was a repercussion of being different, unlike the society norms. While the concept of yin and yang was taboo, I, too, struggled to accept myself as an effeminate person. Altogether, the bully, the taunt, and the denial caused havoc that hallucinated me back to a false world, making me a sloth.
Anyhow, the major change was when I stepped into my Bachelor's. I did a Bachelor's in Microbiology, Botany, and Chemistry from Dr. Hari Singh Gour University (DHSGSU), Sagar (M.P.). I still don't understand from where the confidence erupted during this tenure, but it helped me to focus and accept myself as a person. The bullying and comments didn't stop, but I evolved into a mature and sorted person.
DHSGSU is located in my hometown and was declared a central university the same year (2009). With this, our expectations went par as to what the university could offer. Through my Bachelor's, my efforts to grasp and grow with science were never less; however, the lack of resources and exposure limited my reach and hindered my growth. With the finite exposure, I had limited knowledge, which led me to get stuck in the same university for my Master's.
I enrolled for Masters in Biotechnology in DHSGSU in July 2012. I was confused till the end of my Master whether I should join the industry or research/Ph.D. After a few failed attempts at qualifying CSIR NET and DBT JRF, I was called for BITP (Industry training exam) conducted by DBT-BCIL. Fortunately, I qualified for the exam with a good rank and was also selected for a training program in Biocon in December 2014. However, I resigned only after two months of training due to an evident disinterest in the industrial setup and a stronger drive towards research. Thereafter, I struggled to get a position as Junior Research Fellow (JRF) in projects and was able to qualify some. However, during the hustle, I qualified Ph.D. entrance examination of DHSGSU in August 2015.
I did have a frame of the situation at the university as I was an alumnus. However, I joined the same university as a Ph.D. scholar with the thought that situations change, and so does the quality. During this tenure, I put all my efforts into building my research project, even when we lacked resources and funds. However, just after a year, there was a chain of events that directly affected my research progress. It became quite evident that doing research in the university is more of arranging chemicals and dodging the politics rather than doing the actual science. So even after several attempts, I had to give up.
Further, I gave a few more Ph.D. entrance examinations for other central universities, and I qualified for the written tests, but my interviews were extremely heartbreaking. As I tried to explain my situation, I was judged and even commented that 'I am not serious about Ph.D. and just wandering around with no reason'. The tag that I am already registered in a Ph.D. program felt like a curse, and I went numb. Finally, in July 2017, I resigned.
Earlier, in April 2017, I had started my CSIR preparation. It was my ninth attempt and a do-or-die situation. I made sure that I didn't lack any of my efforts and finally gave the exam in June 2017. As I filled out my answer sheet, I felt content with the exam. However, there was still a doubt. My friends pestered me to join a NET coaching in the meantime as they too were going for the same, and with a view that the change will help me to be sane by the time results come, I joined the IFAS coaching in Jodhpur in August 2017.
It was a setback for me as I gave all my energy to mobilize my Ph.D. project, and to join IFAS seemed like taking a step back. Mentally I went into a very low and vulnerable state. Though I had wonderful friends who supported me, my self-confidence was shattered, and I sobbed almost every day. I expected the results to be declared by September 2017; however, there was a court case regarding the previous year's CSIR exam (December 2016). This delayed the results by three months and made my existence much more difficult. Finally, on 30th November 2017, the results were declared, and I qualified for the exam with AIR 62. Perhaps, that was the happiest day of 2017. Since there were only two weeks left for the next CSIR exam, I decided to give the exam once again, and in May 2018, when I was running around the country giving Ph.D. interviews, the result was declared, and I once again cleared the exam with a much better AIR 46. 2017 as a whole was the turning point of my life. I evolved as a person and became emotional as well as mentally stable.
Finally, I cracked Ph.D. interviews at IIT Delhi and ACTREC. However, since my previous Ph.D. project was on Cancer, I wanted to complete that story and therefore joined one of India's most prominent cancer institutes, i.e., ACTREC, in August 2018. Thereafter, though I had several ups and downs in my research career, the strength of defeating bullies and failures helped me to leap over the potholes.