Rakhi Vishwakarma

Production of Borneol and Menthol and development of separation process from the reaction mixture
Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, India
Tell us a bit about yourself – what stage of your PhD are you in and what’s your project about?

Firstly, I would like to thank my Research Investigator, Prof. M. Lakshmi Kantam to give me this wonderful opportunity. Her research work makes her unique and she is one of the prestigious research investigator students want to work with.
Currently, I have crossed two milestones, working on an industrial project as well as a separate PhD research project. The Prime Minister fellowship covers me; it is a combined engagement fellowship from industry and FICCI, Science and Engineering Research Board; New Delhi, India.
Our research lab works on green catalysis. We develop green chemical synthesis process. The main focus is on heterogeneous catalysis that could be easily separated from the reaction mixture and reused multiple times making the process more economical.
We develop the synthesis process of a specific compound on the lab scale and scale-up the methodogy to commercialise it in industries.

What does a typical day or week look like for you?

My week starts with planning the reactions for rest of the week. I am also an instrument incharge of Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy for a day in the week. So I run samples of chemical engineering department, I belong to.
Setting up the reaction and analysing the reaction mixture samples simultaneously adds up to our work-out session.
The week is nearly complete with repeating the failed reactions and synthesizing catalysts for the reactions.
We love to work on non-working days, because the choas of the surrounding is much less, and I get to work in a quiet environment.

What’s one thing that you’ve enjoyed the most during your PhD?

I can feel developing my knowledge. The experience of failing and learning makes most of the person I am at present. I also face disappointments, but this is why I took PhD because I am sure, I can do it.
Working with industrial personnel is a very different experience for me.
So, I like challenges and taking all things that PhD is throwing up on me is kinda adventure!

What’s been the most challenging part of it?

My PhD consists to work with Industrial project. That is new for me. Weekly meetings and their demands on the properties of chemical compound they want to commercialize on economical basis is a great challenge for me and my Research Investigator.

Where do you see yourself 5 years after completing your PhD?
I want to become a Scientific writer with an organisation!
Writing is my passion. And becoming a Scientific or technical writer is what I see myself doing 5 years after I complete PhD.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer students that are thinking of doing a PhD?
Everyone’s approach is different to research. We all handle the stress and pressure of PhD work differently because we all have distinct psychology. So, never compare your work with others, never compare the amount of research papers others publish. Don’t get demotivated easily. Take everything as a lesson. Keep your focus to learn.

What makes your university a good place to study?

My university offers a quality working labs with all the required instruments. A lot of Chemical technology fields are offered for research from undergraduate to PhD courses. Great help is offered by research investigator for grant of fellowships schemes.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I am a total nerd. So, when I am free, I write articles for science, health and research websites, NGOs, United Nations volunteers, and I also review book on my blog. I love reading some easy research papers that are informative or read blogs of my fellow followers.

Want to learn more about Rakhi?

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