Past Students

Members of the Felix Alumni have been kind enough to let us have an update on how their career's are progressing. We hope the current and future applicants will find their progress inspirational.

Debanjali Biswas

University: SOAS
School/Faculty: Arts and Humanities
Course Taken: Social Anthropology
Year of Graduation: 2010

Debanjali Biswas read social anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies on a Felix Scholarship in 2009-10. She had previously completed a MA and M.Phil at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JawaharlalNehru University.

Her experience at SOAS has been pivotal in defining her approach towards performance studies, enabling her to pursue a ten-week fellowship at National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, on the very subject of her MA dissertation under Prof.Adrienne L. Kaeppler.

Debanjali is set to commence her PhD at King’s College, London at the India Institute as a Commonwealth Scholar. For her doctoral research, she concentrates on the existing dilemmas and growing challenges in community performances in Manipur. 

Debanjali Biswas has pursued an intense study of Manipuri under Smt. Poushali Chatterjee and performs with her, with Nandanik Manipuri Dance Academy, with Mitradheya and as a soloist.

Mayank Bhalla

University: The University of Reading
School/Faculty: School of Animal and Microbial Sciences, Faculty of Science
Course Taken: PhD
Year of Graduation: 2000

After completing my PhD, I wanted to carry out further scientific research, and I was successful in finding a post-doctoral position at the University of Oxford. I then moved to King's College, London to pursue a further post-doctoral fellowship.

Whilst completing my second post-doctoral fellowship, I realized that I wanted a greater and quicker impact of my vocation, as academic research rarely produces any immediate and tangible impact. I therefore, altered my career path and chose to become a lawyer.

I then won a 'training contract' with Linklaters, one of the best law firms in the world. I therefore, studies law and completed the professional training to qualify as a solicitor in London.

Despite becoming a lawyer, I wanted to remain in my chosen field of biotechnology and life sciences, so since qualifying as a solicitor, I have worked in global biotechnology companies where I am very lucky to be able to use both my scientific and legal skills.

I hope to carry on this path of being a lawyer specialising in the business of life science companies.

Gaurav Khanna

University: Oxford
School/Faculty: Corpus Christi College
Course Taken: Economics MSc.
Year of Graduation: 2009

The Felix allowed me to pursue a Masters in Economics for Development at Oxford. Following which, I worked for a year at the World Bank in Washington DC for the Poverty Reduction Unit. There, I studied the labor market impacts of the financial crisis on countries around the world. After a year at the World Bank, I started my PhD in Economics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I'm currently in my fourth year of the PhD programme, and am researching a wide variety of topics from affirmative action policies to labor market programmes, and from nutrition in developing countries to internal conflict inIndia. The Felix was a crucial stepping stone in my path to academia, and has helped me get closer to my goals of researching and understanding poverty in the developing world.

Soumali Roychowdhury

University: University of Reading
School/Faculty: School of Systems Engineering
Course Taken: Masters in Cybernetics
Year of Graduation: 2012

Being an international student I had never imagined that staying in a different continent would be such a memorable experience. Looking back, I feel that every moment was enjoyable, challenging and worth spending in Reading,UK. After spending 22 years in academics and then 2 years in the software industry inIndia, securing the Felix Scholarship allowed me to pursue my hopes of doing masters in Cybernetics in theUniversityofReading.

Before, coming to Reading, Ms. Samantha Mc Mohan, who was in charge of the Felix Scholarship in the year 2011, helped me with various issues ranging from travel, accommodation to financial matters. The most helpful bit was that Samantha provided the email addresses of senior Felix recipients. The first few weeks before arrival saw a flurry of emails back and forth to other Felix recipients, which, in retrospect, was the most useful during my initial days.

Due to differences in culture and even political system, often it is said that students easily become affected by culture shock; some even return home immediately. But with the beautiful network of friends that Felix helped me to build, supported me throughout the entire year and allowed me to adjust to the new environment without any problems. Senior Felix Scholars were also very helpful on trivial yet necessary matters like places to shop, getting a mobile phone, rail cards, student discounts on shops etc.

The Felix trust organised a welcome party in October for the Reading students followed by another reception in June 2012 which included the important members of the Felix trust as well as students from Oxford and SOAS. These were wonderful experiences because we got to meet academic and administrative staffs along with senior students and fellow students from other Universities as well. The second welcome party was held in the English Rural Museum which is one of the best places to visit in Reading. The evening was definitely much appreciated by all and helped everyone mingle in a relaxed setting.

Felix is such a generous trust that it takes cares of every small need of a student. Taking a note of the weather, Felix provided us funds to buy warm clothes, our books and also made arrangements for us to attend the conferences. A few months after my course started, there was a change in the Management, who took care of the requirements of Felix students in Reading. Ms. Samantha Mc Mohan was replaced by another friendly person called Mr. Chris Robinson. He was the man who helped me till the end. It was during October 2012 after I completed my dissertation, I faced a crisis situation and I needed to travel back to my country immediately. He made all the necessary arrangements for me within a week’s time. I am really grateful to him for supporting me so much.

Then comes the most important aspect, the studies. The modules in Cybernetics actually helped me to get equipped with the organisational ability, more independence, enhanced self confidence, better leadership qualities and the ability to work under pressure. The University classroom which had students from different backgrounds actually helped in developing cross-cultural team skills. I believe that I had chosenReadingUniversityto study Cybernetics because of its reputation in this field, the perceived quality of research and the infrastructure available. I was quite satisfied with the good standard of teaching and lecturing and especially the co-operation provided to me by all the faculty members. My dissertation supervisors were some of the best teachers I have met in my life. I worked under their supervision in the domain of Terahertz Imaging and they provided me with all the required guidance and mental support I needed.

It has now become a firm belief that research is indispensable in me, not only for acquiring a deeper understanding and a flexible insight but also for making an original contribution to knowledge and to the human society as a whole. It has been engendered in me a desire for advanced applied research. After completion of my masters I was invited to work as a research fellow in one of the most premium institutes inIndiaknown as Indian Statistical Institute (ISI). I worked on image processing and pattern recognition in the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Unit of ISI for about 3 months which led to several publishable results. Then on May, 2013 I joined a research based company called as Videonetics Technology Private Limited where I worked in the domain of image and video processing for video surveillance and security. Now, I am in pursuit of my dream of working towards my PhD in the field of Imaging Science. With the knowledge and experience I gathered from theUniversityofReading, the gateways of some of the best institutes in the world opened for me. Currently, I hold offers to start my PhD from 2014 in two of the worlds’ most renowned Universities in my field of research namely Max Planck Institute of Informatics,Germanyand École Polytechnique De Montreal,Canada.

I would want to add that being a part of the Felix community is an enriching experience. It is also a matter of great pride. With the support and help of everyone, I had spent a tremendous year filled with joy and happiness and an opportunity to study at the prestigiousUniversityofReading.

Subarno Chattarji

University: Oxford
School/Faculty: English
Course Taken: DPhil
Year of Graduation: 1999

Subarno Chattarji is Associate Professor in the Department of English, University of Delhi. He has also taught in Japan and the UK. He has a B.A., M.A., and M.Phil. in English literature from the University of Delhi and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. He was a Fulbright Senior Research Fellow at La Salle University, Philadelphia(2004-2005) and the recipient of a Kluge Post doctoral Fellowship at the Library of Congress in 2008-2009. He was a member of the core group for a British Academy Networking project with the Open University on ‘Globalization, identity politics, and social conflict.’ (www.open.ac.uk/Arts/gipsc) He is a coordinating member of ‘Prospects for English Studies: India and Britain compared,’ a two-year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK (http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/ind-uk-es/index.shtml). His publications include: Tracking the media: interpretations of mass media discourses in India and Pakistan (Routledge, 2008); Memories of a Lost War: American poetic responses to the Vietnam War (Oxford University Press, 2001). He is co-editor of The Hoot Reader: Media Practice in Twenty-First Century India (Oxford University Press, 2013), Globalization inIndia: Contents and Discontents (Pearson Education, 2009), and An Anthology of Indian Prose Writings in English (Penguin, 2004).

Vikram Vaswani

University: Oxford University
School/Faculty: Said Business School
Course Taken: MBA
Year of Graduation: 2006

"Following University, I returned to Bombay,India, where I started a consultancy firm, which focuses on helping Indian companies develop products in a "libre" or open-source model. Thus far, I have contributed to the launch of a number of new, free products such as a social networking product, a tool for online apparel design, an  advertising exchange and an online learning platform for students. Over the last 4 years, I have also written and had published 3 books on software design and engineering. These have been published internationally by McGraw-Hill and have also been translated to various languages including Russian, French, Spanish, Italian and German. I continue to use the tools taught to me in the MBA to assist my clients with valuable strategic and technical advice on business strategy, product marketing, global deployment and IT value".

Srinivas Chillara

University: University of Reading
School/Faculty: Systems Engineering
Course Taken: MSc Information Systems Engineering
Year of Graduation: 1999

Srinivas is a leading coach, trainer and consultant for software development teams. He is the first Scrum coach inIndiaand has made a very significant material difference to capabilities of project teams in many leading companies. These include BT, Nokia, Globallogic, DSP Merryl Lynch among others. He is also Asia's first trainer of the Certified Scrum Developer course and has now conducted several courses inIndia,Nepal,Thailandand theUSA. 

His Masters at Reading University in Information Systems Engineering has been instrumental in helping success in building current success. His exposure to various cultures and immersion among locals inUKproved invaluable in understanding and working with people from various countries.

All things considered, there is no doubt that the year spent at Reading enabled by the Felix foundation has been the most profitable and pleasurable one.

Balaji Subramanian

University: University of Oxford
School/Faculty: Law
Course Taken: BCL
Year of Graduation: 2007

After completing the BCL, I returned to Delhi and in August 2007 joined law practice as a junior in the chamber of Mr. Gopal Subramanium, Solicitor General of India.  I started independent practice in 2011.  My practice covers almost all types of dispute resolution including civil, commercial, regulatory and criminal law.

Sujat Sen

University: University of Reading
School/Faculty: Chemistry
Course Taken: Masters in Chemical Research
Year of Graduation: 2008

"I pursued an MSc in Chemical Research from the Universityof Reading under the guidance of Prof.Fred Davis, 2007-2008, working on the electrospinning process to generate electrically conductive nanofibers. After returning to India, I applied to various postgraduate programs in the US. I was accepted into the Chemistry PhD program at Brown University, Providence, USA. I am currently in my final year of study and plan to graduate by May 2014. During my PhD I did an internship at Samsung Electronics, South Koreaon the use of photpolymeric materials for holographic display and storage. My doctoral research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of polymeric composites for energy storage and electrocataytic applications. More information can be found at www.linkedin.com/in/sujatsen"

Sucheta Kanjilal

University: SOAS
Course Taken: Comparative Literature
Year of Graduation: 2010

Sucheta Kanjilal began her PhD in English and South Asian literature at the University of South Florida in 2012 where she also teaches literature and language. She lives in Tampa with her husband and two cats.

 

Sachida Tripathi

University: Reading University
School/Faculty: Meteorology
Course Taken: PhD
Year of Graduation: 2000


I was fortunate to be awarded a Felix scholarship to enable me to pursue doctoral studies in the Meteorology Department of the University of Reading from 1996-2000. This department is one of the top departments in its field in the world. Whilst I was there I developed numerical models to understand aerosols in the atmosphere.

Today I owe my achievements to the Felix scholarship. Unlike my other classmates who went on to take jobs in other countries or in India in various fields I had a dream to pursue my higher degrees abroad and this opportunity was provided through the Felix scholarship. The platform given to me through the funding support provided by the scholarship not only helped me to get a doctoral degree but exposed me to an exceptionally stimulating academic environment, world class faculty, innovative course curriculum and teaching methods all of which helped me to understand the basic environmental threats the world is facing and brought out the scientist in me. I had been a trained civil/environmental engineer having graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology-BHU but the numerous and intense interactions with the faculty and co-researchers in the department of meteorology inspired me to achieve a goal for the benefit of mankind through research and encouraged me to pursue a career oriented in science. The Felix scholarship gave me the opportunity to live abroad and of course this broadened my outlook. Not only did it further my career but on a personal front I made a number of friends from around the Globe - Pakistan, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Italy, France to name a few and some of us are still in touch after so many years. The funding enabled me to attend many international conferences and present papers and learn from other participants.

I can rightly say that those years in Reading were the most exciting, interesting, valuable, constructive and informative phases of my life. It brought out the confidence in me and helped me to achieve larger goals in life.

In December 2000 I returned home to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai and became associated with a leading aerosol group inIndia. In January 2002 again I went back to the UK as a post-doc Clarendon laboratory, Oxford where I worked on aerosol microphysics. Since July 2003 I have been part of the faculty in the Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur. I am also associated with the newly founded Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering. I have established a state of the art aerosol laboratory at IIT-K. During my tenure at IIT-K I have held various positions outside ofIndiasuch as research associate atNOAA,USin June 2004, visiting associate professor at Tokyo University, Japan from May-August 2006, senior fellow atNASA Goddard Space Flight Center,US during August 2009 to July 2010 and visiting Professor at Orleans University,France from May-July 2012.

I hope to continue working relentlessly and to achieve my desired objectives and to add to the laurels of Felix Foundation.  I do hope that this foundation continues for many many years to come and helps students like me to achieve their dreams.

Thanks a lot Felix Foundation!

 

Manmohit M Chawla

University: University of Reading
Course Taken: MSc Development Planning
Year of Graduation: 2011

Recognized as a fine combination of science and art, architecture has always been one of my most sought after subjects since childhood. Through-out my formal education, we were under an impression that completing the rigorous five year degree course and registering ourselves as a licensed architect would mark an achievement by itself. With the passage of time, as the degree course was finished with honours, reality dawned upon me with the fact that this was only the beginning to a life-time of learning. Today, I think, even though a formal education system to gain a degree in architecture does exist, the development of an architect is a blend of creativity and practicality combined with scientific guidelines which evolves with experience and education together. The measure of this development could perhaps be seen in the projects designed by the architect. As rightly stated by Harv Eker, “thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions and actions leads to results.” The transition of my thoughts began during the process of participation in various competitions during the final year of my bachelor’s degree. Along with the final year of my degree course, I started working as an assistant to Architect Sen Kapadia, the founding director of my architecture school and one of India's best institution design architects. My daily schedule started with working on the final year dissertation early morning at sun rise. Mr. Sen Kapadia’s studio would start at 9am sharp. The evenings were mostly occupied with listing down all the best scholarships available for higher education. Financial constraints were one of the biggest challenges in thinking of a master’s degree from the west. However, there was a sense of belief coming together with every course detail I would explore for further studies. Back then and till date, I am deeply inspired by Architect Frank Llyod Wright's lines, “The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”

On the 27th of April 2010, I received an email from the Student Services Centre at the University of Reading to inform me regarding the Felix Scholarship competition. As my eyes carefully comprehended every word of that email, my vision became blurred; tears of happiness couldn’t be controlled. This moment was perhaps the turning point of my life. This news came after two years of thoughtful, conscious and a rigorous application processes, leaving no stone unturned. I had started to apply for competitions across the globe since January 2009, but to win a 100% scholarship competition and sponsor a M.Sc. (with living and travel expenses), in those challenging economic times was more than just a dream. Even though it was clearly mentioned in black and white, the feeling of victory and success took months to settle in.

The MSc Development Planning course at the School of Real Estate and Planning has been consistently ranked amongst the top three planning courses in the UK. With a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a year of work experience, it was exciting to start from a project architect’s position towards a large scale development planning professional. The evolution involved burning the mid-night oil, adapting to advanced learning techniques and comprehending the “critical evaluation” system. Our coursework included a variety of subjects ranging from the built and natural environment to the basic procedures for planning commission approvals, planning theories / politics, international planning, real estate economics as well as overall development valuation calculations. This would ensure that every graduate has complete knowledge of all the layers involved in the building development process. The twelve months spent at the University were intensive and fun. The professors at the Henley Business School create an atmosphere which is a perfect combination of theory and practicality. Our coursework also included planning strategies for improvement of certain locations on the outskirts ofLondon. The presentation jury panel comprised of the best professionals from the industry. With two field trips and industry oriented coursework, the degree was culminated with an Integrated Project / dissertation based on the DEEP theorem (Development, Economy, Environment and Place). My dissertation was based on a comparison of Mega-City Regions between London and Mumbai . The MSc Development Planning degree allowed me to further channelize my thoughts and comprehend levels of planning elements, which intricately come together and form our developed zones.

The Felix scholarship has transformed my life immensely. The time spent studying, travelling and interacting with various cultures in UK was the undoubtedly the best time of my life. It has not only allowed me to gain another degree but also rebuilt my confidence towards managing my daily finances and taking independent decisions. After successfully completing MSc Development Planning, I returned toIndiawas working on the Mumbai Railway Station: Victoria Terminus / Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) redevelopment proposal with a French organisation known as EgisIndia(based in NCR,India) in collaboration with French Architects, Arep Ville. This project has recently been approved by the railway authorities and is being planned to ensure that the heritage value of the project remains intact. Currently, I am working with Architect Shakti Parmar on the Global Headquarters for a leading corporate firm inIndiaon a plot of land measuring 15,300 sq. mts. and a small residential apartment project in South West Mumbai. With increasing focus on environmental friendly development, I am making a conscious effort with an attempt towards LEED certification for both these projects. After completing these projects in the next few months, I intend to continue to contribute towards sustainable development either inIndiaor another country as time and opportunity permits. I owe this exciting career progression to the esteemed Felix Scholarship program.

Navneet A Vasistha

University: University of Oxford
Course Taken: D Phil in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics
Year of Graduation: 2013

Despite having done well in both my undergraduate and Masters degrees at University of Delhi, I had little faith that I would be able to study in a place likeOxfordwith its illustrious names and 800 years of history in science and humanities. True to this, I was in tears when one evening I received an email from John Paul-Roche with the terms of the award.

The four years since then have gone quickly. I struggled in the beginning to come to terms with the different accents, culture, food and also work ethic but soon found very helpful and kind mentors in the lab and friends at the college.

These years have been a wonderful mixture of learning at every step, be it presenting one’s work at a conference or performing late night experiments or getting to know people from the many different countries including our very neighbours Pakistan,Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. I have attended Chinese New Years’ celebrations as well as Christmas mass and also fasted some days over Ramzan all leading to a deeper understanding of what unites us all and yet makes cultures so diverse.

My academic training had its ups and downs but I always had the support of my supervisor Prof. Zoltán Molnár who made sure I never got bogged down. I managed to publish some parts of my thesis work in collaboration with other labs and lab members in reputed journals. I also traveled to various conferences and had a glimpse into the breadth of science undertaken over the world.

I am now working as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh, attempting to bridge the fundamental knowledge of brain development with the use of ES cells to come with therapies for neurodegenerative disorders and autism. I hope to be able to transfer this knowledge in collaboration with Indian universities to come up with indigenous research and applications.

Whatever may be the future, I can feel the difference the past four years have brought about in my thinking and understanding and I thank the trustees of the Felix Scholarship for placing their faith in me.

Vidya Venkat

University: SOAS
Course Taken: M.A. in Social Anthropology of Development
Year of Graduation: 2012 

After completing my M.A. in Social Anthropology of Development at SOAS in 2012, I started looking for work and took up a volunteering opportunity with an activist group, National Campaign for People's Right to Information, in New  Delhi which works on freedom of information issues. My M.A. thesis was on the subject of the Right to Information in India and its role in the anti-corruption movement and I wanted to deepen my engagement in this area.

Presently I am working as Media and Communications Officer at Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an international NGO focussing on issues of transparency and accountability in governance; access to justice and access to information. Here I strategise campaigns and advocacy on human rights issues of relevance to CHRI using a variety of media and communication tools, including print, broadcast, radio and social media. In fact one of our most successful campaigns so far was the demand to send the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill to the parliamentary standing committee so that political parties could also be held accountable under the Act. A Change.org petition I had promoted on this matter attracted 20,000+ signatures and was a huge success. See link: http://chn.ge/OKWwQ0. I have also planned and executed campaigns on the need for police reforms in New Delhi, gay rights in East Africa, police complicity in Muzaffarnagar riots in the state of Uttar Pradesh, etc. 

A sample of my published works can be viewed here: http://porterfolio.net/vidyajourno

 

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