Life is full of colours

13 January 2011

Deakin PhD student Ashwantha Kumar recently wrote about his experience of studying and living in Australia for India's leading national newspaper, The Hindu.

By Ashwantha Kumar Enjapoori

I am currently pursuing a PhD in Lactation Biology at Deakin University, Geelong campus at Waurn Ponds.

Science has always fascinated me by the challenges that it offers and the logical framework that it provides to describe and solve what may otherwise look like mysteries.

My never-ending curiosity impelled me to choose scientific research as my major at undergraduate level. From there on, I chose to do my Masters in Biotechnology at the Kakatiya University in Warangal, Andhrapradesh. My research at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics helped me in expanding my horizons and take a step further and do doctorate research.

Our research group headed by Professor Kevin R Nicholas is working on the unique lactation strategies of species such as the Echidna, Platypus, Tammar Wallaby (member of the Kangaroo family and species for research on Kangaroos), Fur Seal, Cows and Humans as model systems. The focus of the research is to better understand the development and function of the mammary gland. We all know that milk is a balanced source of energy and good for health. Our research on above animal models has proved that, apart from its nutritional value, milk contains many bioactive components which enormously modulate the growth and early development of neonates. This advancement can aid in improving the nutritional quality of milk for the dairy industry, which is quintessential for human health.

Deakin University has four campuses, located in surrounding of Melbourne city. The University offers a number of postgraduate and PhD programmes. The major research areas at Geelong campus are Biotechnology, Material & Fibre Science and Intelligent Systems. The maximum time for completion of a PhD degree is a reasonable, 3-4 years.

Deakin conducts a series of training workshops for Masters and PhD students to assist them with their research and procedures. The University is recognized globally for its professional and industrial partnerships. Deakin has MoUs for student exchange programmes and provides internship opportunities with premier research organizations in India like CCMB, IICT-Hyderabad and IITs, Biotech companies.

The highly motivating staff, students from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds with innovative research ideas and the friendly environment makes Deakin a great place to get international exposure. At Deakin, I found easy going research scientists with whom I was able to foster friendly relationships. This understanding is not only limited to the lab but these mentors also understand student’s problems on a personal level.

The location of the University, Geelong City, is one of the largest cities in Australia. One hour away from Melbourne city by train and road, it is a beautiful city and a great place to stay. The weather is stable and the locals are friendly. Language is not at all a barrier when it comes to this country. One will find many Indian groceries and restaurants and never miss the spicy home food. One can also enjoy the city’s safe nightlife. Recently, the city has successfully hosted the UCI Road World Championships.

At the Geelong campus, several Indian students are doing their PhDs in various fields. There is a big Indian community that organises and plays regional movies every week and celebrates birthdays. One can also enjoy their native social events such as Diwali without any trouble. On weekends sports like table tennis, cricket and badminton along with a traditional Australian BBQ are a must!

The Hindu

PhD student Ashwantha Kumar PhD student Ashwantha Kumar

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