Goal Post Careers

Enriched by Erasmus Mundus

Nirmal Raman   | Photo Credit: Nicolas Innocenti

After my twelfth grade, when opting for engineering, I was interested in uravelling the mysteries of nature and science. So, biotech seemed the most logical option. After a lot of deliberation, I chose SRM University, as the course curriculum and the infrastructure there was among the best in Tamil Nadu.

At the School of Biotechnology, SRM University:

After the SRM experience, I was keenly looking for scholarship options across the globe. But my situation demanded that I take up a full-time job. Through campus recruitment I joined Infosys Technologies. While I could have made a successful career on this job, my heart still yearned for a master’s. That is when I stumbled upon the prestigious Erasmus Mundus (EM) courses offered by European Union.

It was during my second year at Infosys, that I applied for the EM courses. Through the Erasumus Mundus, I got the Master’s in Computational Systems Biology. I was one of the nine recipients of the euSysBio Erasmus Mundus Scholarship. The courses provided me with the opportunity to study in two countries — Aalto University (Finland) and Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (Sweden). The courses were organised such that I learnt the key courses from the expert faculty members of each university. Mobility from one university to another was smooth and the transitioning, very well organised. I received a Category A EM scholarship that funded my tuition fees, living expenses and the expenses towards mobility of total net worth of 48,000 Euros.

The PhD saga

My dreams did not end with a master’s. I wanted to pursue research. So I applied for a PhD programme in various institutions in Germany and Switzerland, as these countries had the best funding for research. I am now pursuing my PhD in Molecular Neurobiology at Ludwig-Maxmilan-University, Munich, Germany, one of the prestigious universities in Europe. I currently work as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at LMU, in the area of neurodevelopmental and degenerative disorders. I work on schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.

Usually, one per cent of the population is affected with such mental disorders and very little is known about these disorders. In our lab, we try to understand such disorders using mouse models. Recent breakthrough in science has given us the scope to investigate a list of candidate genes and perceive research in that direction. A culture shock is something that every one faces initially; with these EM courses you spend time in at least two countries. I considered it an exhilarating and personally rewarding opportunity. At Finland, where I started, the university organised a camp on Finnish culture and language for 10 days before the semester began. To my knowledge, most other universities also orient students in this perspective.

In certain cases, you can also enrol as self-financing student into EM courses, and then you will need to prepare a detailed budget based on your study plan. Consider the countries you will visit and the corresponding regulations for VISA purposes. You might also seek help from students who are currently enrolled in the programme, or the coordinators will also be able to assign mentors.

The writer is pursuing his PhD in Molecular Neurobiology at Ludwig-Maxmilan-University, Munich, Germany.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 12:39:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/careers/enriched-by-erasmus-mundus/article7720234.ece

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