- To work in the field of research you require a lot of curiosity, self-motivation and an immense amount of patience.
- You get to work with state-of-the-art technologies.
- It takes a long time to get to the highest levels of the pay scale.
- Your research supervisor and research group can have a lot of influence on your career.
- Work life can be balanced relatively easily.
- The industry demand for Ph.Ds is quite high at the moment. A Ph.D. prepares you well for an industry job too.
Name – Dipankar Nath
Profession – Physicist and Data Scientist
Age – 32
Gender – Male
City – Hannover, Germany
Industry – Research & Development
LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/dipankar-nath/
Where have you been born and raised?
I was born and raised in Tezpur, Assam. My dad served as a Postmaster in the Indian Postal Services and my mother is a homemaker. I have a younger sister who is currently working as an editor in a publishing house. My wife is an Astrophysicist at Eotvos Lorand University, Hungary. We were fellow Ph.D. students at TIFR, Mumbai, before getting married.
I come from a small North Eastern town so the expenses were also manageable. My father’s income was enough for a family of four.
Who all had the most influence on you and how?
My mother, undoubtedly, has been the biggest inspiration for me. Not only has she been a great homemaker, but has also been a symbol of will-power and strength. She always supported our choices fiercely. Her confidence in me always gave me the assurance of going through with my decisions.
Please give us a summary of your career so far.
I did my schooling till 12th grade from Tezpur, Assam. Then I moved to Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi, for earning my Bachelor’s in Physics. Then I went to TIFR, Mumbai, for my integrated Ph.D. This includes a Master’s and a doctorate degree. Following which, I moved to Leibniz Universität, Hannover, Germany for doing a post-doctorate. My field of research has been Cold Atom Interferometry.
Which institutes are best for the education/training of Research?
According to me, TIFR, Mumbai is good. The research group in TIFR is one of the oldest and best known. Apart from this, IISER, Pune is a great institute. RRI, Bangalore is another well-established institute. The rest include IISc, Bangalore, NISER, Bhubaneshwar, IITs and NPL, Delhi.
What are the costs associated with the education/training of this profession?
From my personal experience, for Bachelor’s, I was a resident of the college hostel. Annual hostel expense was INR 30,000/-. With personal expenses, it would be between INR 50,000–60,000. For my integrated Ph.D., I got INR 12,000/month which later increased to INR 18,000/month, by the time I finished. However, currently, this amount is INR 28,000/month. TIFR hosts its students free of cost till date, with free lodging and food. The standard of these amenities was very high.
How does one enter in the field of Research?
The most important is to get through the entrance examination of one of the good colleges. Even today most of the good universities prefer to hold their entrances. Once you get through, it depends a lot on the research group and the research environment.
What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out in your line of career & industry?
Most premier research institutions in India provide good compensations. That includes complete health insurance, travel allowance for a family of 4 every year, HRA etc. The total amount of this also increases with years of experience.
5 yrs. experience – 55,000 to 80,000 INR per month
10 yrs. experience – 1 to 1.5 Lakhs INR per month
15 yrs. experience – 2.5 to 3.5 Lakhs INR per month
20+ yrs. experience – 2.5 to 3.5 Lakhs INR per month
Please describe your work.
I have 8 hours per day, 5 days a week of work time. I work with my research team and I’m currently working on Cold Atom Interferometry. In Germany, working on the weekends is not common, nor encouraged. However, this is not the case in Indian labs. It again depends on the group and supervisor. Here I also mentor 2 Ph.D. students apart from working on experimental projects.
What are some of the positives, which would encourage someone to consider this career?
The ups to consider while choosing this profession are:
- You are provided with a lot of freedom about your work in most cases. You get to work with new technologies which are yet to be marketed.
- There is a lot of traveling involved and you get to visit different places for research.
- You get a good work-life balance and have enough time for family and personal leisure.
- It will give you a decent living and earn respect for you in the society as an innovator.
What are some of the challenges of working in your field?
It is a relatively hard field in terms of knowledge, skills, and patience. Some challenges you will face while working in this field are:
- One has to know his basics very well and be open to learning new things very frequently. You need to regularly update yourself.
- The pay, though sufficient, is meager compared to other professional fields. You definitely cannot afford a lavish life.
- The studies related to getting your doctorate can be very stressful and mentally overbearing if you are not well equipped to learn practically and through observation.
- It takes a long time before you climb up the ladder of promotion to the highest levels.
What are the relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding a premium in your job profile?
Good knowledge of Quantum Mechanics and Physics, in general, is essential. You should be able to work with high-end Lasers. Apart from these you should have software skills and be well versed with tools such as Python, Mathematica, MatLab, LabView etc.
What kind of person would be happy in your career?
Someone who is motivated by the quest for knowledge, invention, and innovation but not money, would be very satisfied with this career.
What would be your advice to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?
Please do not aim at getting a permanent faculty position too soon. This comes not so easy. Always consider jobs in the industry as an alternate option. Another advice would be to not blind heartedly join a group. Talk to fellows from that group and those outside the group and gain more insight into the way things are done.
Contributing Writer – Aparna Bisht
You may also like to read our conversation with Mr. Sunil Gupta (Pharmaceutical Scientist at Zim Laboratories) here.