It is 2:30 in the afternoon. 3 students, seated at the command of the principal investigator at NIRRH are asked to address their attention to a basic question.

‘What is the burning question you seek to answer?’

The meeting doesn’t last any less than an hour and lunch time is insensitively delayed until the proceedings come to an end. Scientific inquiries often prone to such heartless negligence of meals, and rightly so.

Meanwhile, 9km south of the location, a group of students have not left the lecture hall, after the bell has long rung. Discussions involving the geometrical proof of fact that ‘same number of points to form lines of varying lengths’ filling the growling cheer of the stomach.

Both the above instances involved the authors, who once were a part of VES college of Arts, Science and Commerce. It was the same campus – albeit admittedly smaller – where the foundation of our education was laid. And it involved addressing 3 major full stops.

The ‘Why’ of college: One enters college for higher education, why you choose the particular course could be for a plethora of reasons. That is just the start of your career. What really matters is, whether you choose to remain in the field or take a complete new turn. Most people prefer the latter;because of the new found love and also go on to become satisfyingly successful thereby. We, however, chose the former simply because we both loved the concepts shaping our subjects. Let’s include a couple of examples to help illustrate.

Dr Abhijit Majumdar ( is a professor at the department of  Chemical engineering IIT Bombay. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that he  is chemical Engineer by training. Astonishingly his lab addresses the “how Physical stress shapes the fate of cells?”. A fundamental question in the field of Biosciences (Biology). Professors at TIFR’s division of biological sciences are hold a PhD in physics.The discoverer’s of the Double helix structure of DNA (Dr. Watson and Dr Crick), Dr Venkita Ramakrishnan , Dr Linus Pauling  are all Physicists winning Nobel prizes in anything but Physics.

The ‘How’ of college: You know why you chose to study a subject, but how you achieved the same is of comparable, if not of greater importance.

“Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”

But that’s just how Richard Feynman addresses it. (Nobel prize winning Physicist)

Though both of us are from really disparate fields, it is the thirst to not just understand but to explain our understanding of a concept that draws us alike. This phase of life, regardless of the subject you pursue, invariably throws a lot of new concepts at you. Be it Return on Investment , Reverse Psychology, American Noir Cinema, Neo Gothic architecture, events that shaped the Colonial world, or even Sports Team Management – every concept is interesting as long as the reader has a vested interest in learning. We have come to realise that if you can explain any of the concepts to an eight year old, you probably have mastered it.Personally we have been each other’s guinea pigs –  we would invariably share the other the concepts we learn. Mostly since we realise that applications of these concepts forms a basis of understanding them as thoroughly as they deserve to be processed.  An arguably impressive demonstration of this exchange would be Mr. Alan Turing (a British Mathematician known for development of theoretical computer science)  who was also a theoretical biologist. Turing proposed a mathematical formula to understand  the patterns that shape an organism. Patterns like formation of different colors on the wings of butterfly or like that of stripes on a zebra’s body were based on the release of substances he called morphogens. Further expanding the concept root cause, we in our daily life have used our love for Chess to explain a few concepts in the field of mathematics and biology – applying one to the other because of solid understanding that belies in both concepts.We were encouraged by our mentors and peers, and we ask the same of you. 

The ‘When’ of college: The current world we live is sophisticated. Often our interests change due to factors which are far beyond our control. But if you truly love something, eventually you will find a way to pursue it. Mrs. Ranjita Save in her late 40’s, a mother of two, quit her bank job to pursue a Master’s degree in biology 25 years later. Passion as she calls it for domestic reasons remained dormant for nearly 33 decades, yet took center stage.

When you find your calling we ask you to stay in touch with your subject, business, project. Any field as a whole remains quite dynamic and a constant need to read, know and understand will keep you relevant if not on top of the food chain. Whether an exam or a presentation or an informal set up where you have to communicate, prepare as if it is your first time in the business .Keeping peers who are motivated, regardless with diverging interests also helps. Seeking help from mentors at times is as necessary as giving it. As an alumni going back to the roots to contribute is a noble virtue, something that  has benefited us. Something that is inherent to humanity. We acknowledge the shade of the trees that we so thoroughly enjoy today are those that our forefathers planted.

Category : Guest Article 
Authors : Varun Suresh (Msc. Biotechnology), Aditya Garg (Msc. Mathematics)
Editor : Aastha Munjal  
Published 10th January 2017;;