By Martijn De Sterke, University of Sydney
Since it is a long flight from Sydney to India I decided to combine visits to two different student chapters in a single trip. Arriving in Kolkata late on a Wednesday evening, I spent the Thursday morning at the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI) in Kolkata, a very impressive organization, and then on by train to Dhanbad, the location of the Indian School of Mines (ISM). Here I spent all of Friday, and then was at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur on the Monday and the Tuesday morning. Over the weekend the students at ISM showed me around in Gaya, one of the holy sites of Buddhism, and on the Sunday it took us most of the day to drive from Dhanbad to Kharagpur. The entire visit was very enjoyable with the students looking after me very well at every stage.
At both universities I gave a 50 min presentation about my research on complete light absorption in ultrathin layers, and a separate 20 min presentation about scientific publishing (I was formerly the Editor-in-Chief of Optics Express). Apart from these, I spent much of my time talking informally to students about their research, either in a round table discussion or by going around their laboratories one at the time. For me these interactions are the best part of the entire visit and give me the opportunity to appreciate the full spectrum of the research that is being carried out, and perhaps to comment on some aspects of it. I was struck by the quality of the students and by their knowledge of the scientific literature. No doubt this is explained by the rigorous selection process that determines admission to the top institutions in the country, and which involves both written and oral parts; no wonder the students at these top institutions are so impressive! Many thanks to the presidents of the student chapters at ISM and IIT KGP, Vikash Barnwal and Abhijit Roy for making the local arrangements and for OSA for sponsoring the trip through the Traveling Lecturer Program.
Posted: 2 May 2016 by
Martijn De Sterke, University of Sydney
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