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Updated: October 12, 2010 11:25 IST

Academics in ‘the cradle of Romanticism'

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PASSION FOR RESEARCH: Yamunadevi Subburaj
PASSION FOR RESEARCH: Yamunadevi Subburaj

The Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg attracts more than 500 international scholars as Visiting Professors each academic year.

From a small village called Srirengapuram in Theni district in Tamil Nadu, my dream was to become a doctor during school days. Although it didn't work, I chose biology and enrolled in Lady Doak College, Madurai, in Biotechnology for my UG and The American College for my PG.

To be honest I didn't have any interest of doing research till I joined Madurai Kamaraj Univeristy for my PG diploma in Bioinformatics. The exposure I got there made me join Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, as Junior Research Fellow.

IISc provided me an opportunity for professional and personal growth. From there, I started applying to foreign universities for a doctoral programme.

With the IISc research experience and strong support from my family, I landed in Heidelberg, Germany. Many thanks to all my friends and teachers without whose encouragement I would not be here.

The Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg (http://www.uni-heidelberg.de/index_e.html) founded in 1386 is Germany's oldest university and one of the leading research institutions in Europe.

My area of research is Cancer Biology. I work in collaboration with German Cancer research centre (DKFZ) and Max-Planck Institute for Metal Research. Funding is provided for three years with a possibility of one-year extension. So it takes 3-4 years to complete your Ph.D. Within this duration you need to progress well in research and get good publications. Simultaneously we have to attend some course works which will add credits for the degree. Since we are paid for what we do, expectations will be higher and obviously efforts should be more. Hard work and strong passion is necessary to succeed.

Heidelberg provides excellent research and education opportunities for scholars and students from all over the world. Moreover, Heidelberg is one of the few universities to have succeeded in the recent Excellence Initiative, a competition funded by the German federal government to promote outstanding research in German universities. The university has numerous partnerships, nationally and internationally.

Heidelberg University is home to over 28,000 full-time students, including more than 5,000 foreign students. The Ruprecht Karl also attracts more than 500 international scholars as Visiting Professors each academic year. Over the centuries, Heidelberg University has offered tens of thousands of international students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the academic life of one of the world's premier institutions of higher learning; for many of them, the Ruprecht Karl was a stepping-stone toward a successful career.

Set in the picturesque Neckar Valley, Heidelberg's beautiful historic centre offers a romantic small-town atmosphere with cosmopolitan appeal. Heidelberg is known as the cradle of Romanticism, and its old town and castle are among the most frequented tourist destinations in Germany.

Heidelberg inhabits approximately 200 Indians. Getting together on weekends, a walk along the riverside with friends makes you feel at home.

Yamunadevi Subburaj

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