Tell us a bit about yourself – what was your PhD about and where did you study?I pursued a PhD in molecular oncology at Bangalore. My work was that of a regular cell and molecular biologist.
What do you do now? What did you decide to do next after gaining your PhD?I work as a science illustrator and communicator. Towards the end of the PhD, I was certain that academia was not a space I wanted to be in anymore. I thought about science communication. Since my strength and skillset are in visuals, I started as a science illustrator. I started my own freelancing outfit called Ipsawonders. I work with scientists, educators, and science institutes to develop visuals for peer communication, teaching tools and outreach and communication projects. I also make independent zines for scicomm. I also work with Thelifeofscience.com to initiate conversations around sci-art and women in science.
Has having a PhD helped in developing your career? If yes, what has been the biggest impact? If no, why do you think that is?The biggest one has been the realization that I didn’t want to stay in academia. That experience helped me understand my values, strengths, weaknesses and expectations from myself and my workplace. Owing to the experience, I also understand how to navigate different kinds of relationships during collaborations and freelancing. Being a PhD also allows other scientists to trust me with their work as I understand their language and their process.
What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer prospective students considering a PhD?Keep your learning, identity, and self-worth separate from your progress in PhD.
And what one thing would you suggest that new PhD graduates should do next?Spend some time thinking about what is it that you would like to do, what you want to do, what you can do, what more you can learn. Take the next steps based on what suits most of all these criteria. Interact with people who went on to do different things and figure which one do you most relate to.
Lastly, what’s your favourite memory from your time as a PhD student?My favorite time was time spent in the canteen/ mess with friends chatting and laughing heartily about everything from glucocorticoid receptors to the latest movie.
Want to know more about Ipsa?Check out her personal website, Twitter and Instagram profiles and the website and Twitter account of The Life of Science using the links below: