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Chronicles of the afterlife (post-PhD)!

It's been a year since I crossed the PhD bridge - and a few more days (to be more accurate)! And it’s a brave new world…

So let’s talk more about what actually is there on this ‘other’ side. Yes, I wanted to do a PhD in Physics since a young age, and yes I knew that I always wanted to continue working in academia… but would I be ignorant if I don’t consider other options? In most parts of my country, being a scientist/researcher is one of the most unusual thing to wish for, sadly so, but it does allow you to be more persistent. By keeping you on the edge for continuously proving your decisions to do something different, sometimes even to yourself! And still, over the long years until the end of this bridge, there are a bunch of questions thrown on your way - e.g., Is it the best thing to do? Which one is better, industry or academia? What are your job-options? There is no funding in academia, how will you survive? and so on. The answer to the first two really depend on personal perspectives-choose whichever you are most passionate about - and it will be the best thing to do. Third one, well, there are many-you just need to know them and work for it. But I am here to talk more about the last one…

Chronicles of the afterlife-1

“Funding” is an important part of research, and although tiresome, one will always need to apply for grants at various stages of their career. In my case, I was looking for postdoctoral fellowships. And I did apply for several prestigious fellowships while I was in the final stage of my PhD, but I did not get any of those. Somehow, I found my current advisor and joined his group as a post-doc. This was a big group with people from Asia to Europe, spanning the whole land in between! There were many dinners, and more interesting conversations.

My advisor, Giovanni Volpe, likes to work in existing collaborations as well as build new ones, he has recently received the ERC (European Research Council) starting career grant and encourages his post-docs to write their independent projects. Soon, with his support, I applied for the Marie Curie fellowship. To be honest, I learned a lot during this particular project proposal, regarding the presentation of my work and idea in a more appealing manner. And as the saying goes, “whatever happens, happens for the best”! I am now working at the University of Gothenburg as a Marie-Curie postdoctoral fellow. And although I have just joined here, I have already started to experience the benefits of this fellowship.

Marie-Sklodovka Curie Actions (MSCA), is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious fellowship programs, and is highly competitive. But what makes this fellowship unique is their focus to promote young researchers to enter/shift to a new research field, to move to a new scientific environment, and above all, on building a collaborative network. I have my project in collaboration with 3 institutions-University of Gothenburg (UGOT), ICFO and University of Düsseldorf. While my primary research will be at the UGOT, I will be spending considerable time at the other two institutions, learning from the people of my field there and having a chance to get to know other researchers there. Apart from that, there is an additional mobility grant, to help you visit other research groups as well in order to build a network of people of common research interests. Do apply if you think that you fulfill their eligibility criteria, and if you have a good project.

Chronicles of the afterlife-2

Also, check out other H2020 programs too. They provide many funding opportunities and in several ways. Whether you want to work purely in academics, or in collaboration with industry, or you want to move from one place to another or whether you are an early stage researcher or someone who is trying get back to research after an unavoidable break in your career, they have something to offer. You just need to be able to come up with an idea that can be materialized in a good project.


(P.S. You can contact me at jalpaben.soni@physics.gu.se)

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Dr. Jalpa Soni
Post Doc.
University of Gothenburg


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