Every Wednesday, our ‘Away from home’ blog series features one Indian postdoc working in a foreign lab recounting his/her experience of working there, the triumphs and challenges, the cultural differences, what they miss about India, as well as some top tips for postdocs headed abroad. You can join in the online conversation using the #postdochat hashtag.
This week’s postdoc is Gaind P. Pandey, a Ph.D from University of Delhi, India currently at the Center for Autonomous Solar Power (CASP), State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton, New York, USA. Besides the new work culture he tried to fit himself into, he tells us about his experience with some news-making natural disasters.
I can’t exactly say that I was interested in science alone since I was equally interested in literature and journalism and wanted to be a columnist. You could say I am in science accidentally.
Making energy storage devices now
I was a postdoc research associate in the department of Physics & Astrophysics at the University of Delhi. I was also associated in the same group during my Ph. D. program and I worked in DU (University of Delhi) for more than four years.
I was offered a postdoc opportunity to initiate the work on energy storage device (supercapacitor) at the Center for Autonomous Solar Power (CASP), State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton, New York, USA.
At CASP, I am working for the development of high energy density solid-state supercapacitors. The final goal is the integration of these supercapacitors with solar cells to create autonomous powers sources.
The Center aims at developing its own technology, which can then be licensed to local firms. So the Center is focusing on commercialisation of research/technology to transfer from lab to the industry. The work culture is great and we have ample freedom to apply our own ideas. People here are very enthusiastic and perfect on their assigned work.
New work, new culture, tough transition
The transition from my institute in India to Binghamton was not very smooth. Since my first job was to set up laboratory facilities for energy storage work, the first few weeks were not really good for me. I was also trying to adjust to the new work culture.
People here are highly professional. So it’s very hard to get help for a personal problem – no one has that much time or inclination.
Stressful natural disasters
I can’t forget the September 2011 flood in Binghamton and Hurricane Sandy of October 2012. They were really sad natural disasters. Sandy and its aftermath were a very stressful time for most people in this region though my city was not affected. I watched the efficient disaster management system very closely.
Good publication from Ph. D. work is very important. Try to publish papers in good journals. Good graduate training is equally important. Make plans for your future research and keep an eye on positions opening in your area of interest. Here, January and August are the time for hiring postdoc.
Learn driving before coming here and try to get a driving license as early as possible.
Miss Delhi shopping and food
I am missing my family, friends and Indian festivals. I also miss Delhi a lot for food, shopping and many more. I’d definitely want to come back to India and continue my research in the same area. It would be nice if we can create a work culture like they have in this country.