Concurring the technical field. To overcome the deficit

Concurring
with the long-held opinion of my business- oriented family that I am that apple
of the family tree which fell on the other side of the border, I have observed impact
of applied sciences during the embryonic phase of my career as an undergraduate
as well as in my current role of an engineering professional from energy and
chemicals industry. At this juncture of my life, I aim to advance myself as a disruptor
for the future by means of pursuing PhD in an application oriented field in an academic
setting where there is limitless breathing space for innovation. As of now, I
am not in hold of a specific research statement but in terms of focus areas, I
am inclined to study the interface of advanced materials and complex systems
engineering.

 

Being aware of my strong
liking towards sciences during my high school education  , I took the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE)
for admission to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and was  ranked in the top 0.4% of the nearly 0.3
million competing students. I got accepted to the department of Chemical
Engineering (CHE) at IIT Kanpur for my undergraduate studies. Explorative years
spent as an undergraduate, learning about the scope and interdisciplinary
nature of the chemical engineering discipline with varying range of coursework  from theoretical to applications based  further cemented my interest in the technical
field.  To overcome the deficit in
knowledge outside the course work, as a SURGE (Summer Undergraduate Research
Grant for Excellence) 2008 fellow in my second year at IIT Kanpur under the guidance
of Dr. Siddhartha Panda, I got first-hand experience in exploiting the
properties of conducting polymers in designing and fabrication of a humidity
sensor. Research done culminated in a poster presentation whereby exchanging
feedback and ideas with the institute faculty and research scholars. This offered
me a much closer look into the research world and motivated me to look for long
term experience.

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Having my degree program converted from 4 year Bachelor’s
to 5 year Bachelor’s-Master’s dual degree, I pursued my master’s thesis under
the guidance of Dr. Ashutosh Sharma and
Dr. Sri Sivakumar at IIT Kanpur where I dived into investigating two
separate themes on advanced materials. Firstly,
Porous Carbon particle as a novel drug
delivery vehicle where
we reported the
template-based fabrication and characterization of nearly monodisperse,
biocompatible, polymer-coated mesoporous carbon
microparticles for controlled drug and actives delivery application.
Secondly, Carbon capsules as a
sub-micron sized reactor for synthesis of nanostructures vehicle where we had developed PEGylated mesoporous
carbon nanocapsule as a universal nanoreactor and carrier for the delivery of
highly crystalline hydrophobic/hydrophilic nanoparticles which shows superior
biocompatibility, dispersion in body fluids, good biodistribution and independent
cellular uptake mechanism. Both the works resulted in publications 1, 2
in peer reviewed journals. This whole experience has been rewarding in terms of
developing scientific reasoning, understanding how ambiguous and complex
empirical work can get and developing a methodical approach towards the
research statement. For instance, me being new to tools of qualitative analysis
of material such as SEM, TEM, FTIR, Raman spectra etc. required me to learn in
detail about the different principles governing each of these tools and how to
use them to draw a comprehensive and corroborative assessment of the physical
characteristic and chemical composition of the sample material. My thesis
experience has also broadened my view that research is not an isolated affair
and more so a collaborative effort where each contributor can play to their strength.
This was very much evident from the collaboration with Department of Biological
sciences and Bioengineering (BSBE) at IIT Kanpur for performing cell uptake
studies for our research. Overall, inadvertently I developed a scientific
aptitude for fascinating world of advanced materials.

Not
to lag behind in industry oriented knowledge about applied Technologies in
Refining, Petrochemicals, Polymers and plastics. I decided to pursue Master of
science under the sponsorship from Technip Corporation at IFP School (French
Institute of Petroleum /ENSPM), Paris, France in Processes and polymers.
Program consists of a ten month coursework and an industry internship. I was
among the three students who were sponsored for this program from India in
2011. Academic program at IFP school and subsequently working as a process  engineer for Fluor corporation, Netherlands ,enabled
me in a limited setting to connect both ends of science and engineering as
visible in the  fact that foundation of a
refinery/petrochemicals projects rests on the basic chemistry. Later in role of
an Engineering domain knowledge expert for Fluor-IBM Watson(NY) EPHD(Engineering
Projects Health Diagnostics )Initiative, I got to perform leading edge data analytics and employ certain aspects of machine
learning on Fluor’s Refining and petrochemical projects to build an early
warning project performance system. In contrast to my earlier learnings of
advanced materials, here I developed a liking for systems engineering. Based on
a very objective assessment of both my academic and professional experience, I
would like to tread the interdisciplinary path of advanced materials and
systems engineering.

 

One question that I intend to address is why now? Primarily
because, engineering industry that I am involved in has provided me
opportunities to work on challenging refinery and petrochemical project but a
limited scope for research and innovation which is more readily available in an
academic setting. Hence, gaining better understanding of my calling and desire
of not to maintain status quo has propelled me for graduate studies. The right
step in that direction is to earn a PhD degree as a short term objective
providing me with the foundation for my long term goal of setting up an
independent Think Lab where cross-pollination of ideas can lead to
breakthroughs.

 

My desire to pursue interdisciplinary research in
advanced materials and complex systems is very much aligned with UC Berkeley’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular
Engineering’s objective to find solution to complex challenges through
cross-functional research. It appears to me that the department would provide
me sufficient cushion in terms of opportunities, resources and vibrant working
environment promoting ingenuity in ideas. Close proximity to interdisciplinary
research centers of excellence such as Berkeley Nanosciences and
Nanoengineering Institute(BNNI), Berkeley Quantum Information and Computation
Center (BQIC), Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of
Society (CITRIS), throws open a mentally stimulating atmosphere resting on the
pillars of  interdisciplinary research
centers, innovative thinking and eminent faculty members.

 

I am
particularly interested in the laboratories of Dr.Roya Maboudian, Dr.Jeffrey Reimer in the field of advanced materials
and Dr.Ali Mesbah, in the field of  systems engineering. The application of advanced
materials and systems engineering to answer some of the fundamental challenges such
as unsustainable products and processes through engineering of  Micro/nanoelectromechanical systems, synthesis
of nanoporous metal organic frameworks for gas separation and stochastic optimal
control of self-assembly systems in their respective labs is most appealing to me.

 

In addition to a high performing research and academic
activities, a dynamic campus life, cultural diversity of students
and student led organizations like LEAD Center, IGSB etc.
will organically facilitate life
long and meaningful connections with campus.
I believe that the plethora of
opportunities to develop life and leadership skills, improving upon my
presentation and communication skills ,learning varying cultural perspectives
and  intellectually stimulating  discussion will go long way in making my stay
at UC Berkeley more enjoyable as a graduate student. I therefore firmly foresee UC Berkeley
providing me the much needed
launching pad for my short term objectives as well as a reasonable progression
in achieving success in long term goal of establishing an independent think
lab.