PhD student from India - about interships at Vilnius University

Meera Stephen.Thanks to Marie Curie Actions studies of Solar cells at Vilnius University have become possible for the student from India.
It has been an enriching experience to be a Doctoral Student at the Faculty of Physics, VU, especially for someone coming from the other part of the world, like India. When people hear me saying 'PhD in Physics', they often look at me in the way meaning 'are you crazy?'. All I can say about my PhD life is that it brings me s a lot of fun and it is particularly sad to see so few girls getting into sciences like Physics for postgraduate studies.

The driving force that has prompted me to take up my doctoral studies at Vilnius University is the prestigious Marie Curie fellowship provided by the European Union. It guarantees a high quality of life through a competitive salary and also ensures essential training that is international and interdisciplinary. One of the key elements of the programme is mobility. Mobility assures the quality of research in Europe by attracting researchers from all over the world, as well as broadening their career perspectives. The manifestation of this feature of mobility can be observed from my PhD plan as such, as I am working for a co-tutelle jointly given by Vilnius University and the University of Pau, France. This means that I will be carrying out part of my doctoral work at the University of Pau. This, I believe, is a promising opportunity to make the most of my doctoral studentship.

The European Union supports such programmes that promote research efforts as an inevitable factor to boost economic growth in Europe. By enabling the mobility of researchers and exchanges between institutions and industry, it supports the expanding of research landscape across Europe. And because research and knowledge should not be restricted to the scientific community solely, the Marie Curie Actions strongly encourage their fellows to disseminate their results and to tell the public what they do.
Having said that, I would like to expand my ideas on what I do in the laboratories. Essentially, I am working for the European project entitled „Establis" which aims at developing a new kind of solar cells made from specific plastic, also called the Power Plastic. One of the most exciting aspects of this kind of solar cells is that they could be spread over a sheet of plastic inexpensively using printing techniques, pretty much the same way newspapers are printed. In addition, cutting down manufacturing costs makes them flexible, unlike the conventional solar cells, and attractive for portable applications.

The group of eight universities and three industries spread across Europe, forming the backbone of „Establis" have been working towards this common goal. Vilnius University one among the Partner universities. Other Partner Universities involved in this project are the ones from France, Germany, Spain, U.K, Slovakia, Austria etc. Membership in this project provides me with a platform to broaden my knowledge across sciences as well as to carry out collaborative research effectively.

As a PhD fellow under supervision of Prof. dr Gytis Juska at the Faculty of Physics, Vilnius University, I have been introduced to a totally new field of science and techniques I have never used before. Despite my initial curiosity of surviving in a strange cold place, my friendly colleagues in the laboratory have helped me greatly to settle down and get used to the Lithuanian lifestyle. The beautiful Old Town and the traditional 'alus' make me love the city even more!

Altogether, I feel being part of this project, which will effect both my career and personal life in a positive way enormously. Moreover, it is hugely satisfying to be part of an effort to replace our rapidly depleting energy sources with abundant renewable sources like the sun.

Meera Stephen

The article was edited by dr. Loreta Chodzkienė (Institute of Foreign Languages)


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