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How to Continue Your PhD Research in Lockdown

How to Continue Your PhD Research in Lockdown main image

While many university courses have been able to quickly adapt to online learning in the COVID-19 pandemic, postdoctorate students around the world have had to face the challenge of continuing their research while working remotely.

At the National University of Science and Technology MISIS (NUST MISIS), ten postdoctorate students from six different countries (Belarus, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Greece, India and Colombia) are now having to conduct research from home in fields as varied as biomedicine and quantum technologies.

The luckiest PhD students at NUST MISIS are the theoretical physicists, because, according to them, nothing has changed in their work.

"I only require a good computer to continue my research," said Abhik Mukherjee, working in the university's Department of Theoretical Physics and Quantum Technologies.

"I am constantly in touch with my supervisor and collaborators through email and Skype," he added. 

While experimental work has had to be paused due to limited access to laboratories, young scientists have been able to use this time to analyze already collected data, review literature and write scientific articles.

"I have been working on my polymer composite membranes for wastewater and gas separation project for more than a year so I have data which I am compiling and using for writing papers," said Vignesh Nayak, from the NUST MISIS Center for Composite Materials.

"I am also concentrating on planning for my future work and preparing a list of required chemicals and instruments once the lab reopens." 

Rajan Choudhary, who also works at the Center for Composite Materials at NUST MISIS and develops bioactive scaffolds for the regeneration of hard (bone) tissues, is exploring new programs for work and opportunities for receiving grant support.

“In the current situation, I read a lot of reports which helps me to write a review article as well as to identify the challenges in my research area to frame a potential proposal," he said.

"Apart from these, I interpret data received during previous experiments, correct and revise already written manuscripts, learn different software (such as SolidWorks) to enhance my skills. In my view, the resources provided by NUST MISIS are enough to continue remote work."

For many students, their daily routine also remains pleasantly unchanged. Some of them are so immersed in their studies that they can sit for an entire eight-hour work-day analyzing data. It's not all work though: in their free time, the university's young scientists play sports, cook, watch films and learn foreign languages.

“I try to continue working with my usual timetable (Monday to Friday from 8 am to 5 pm), then I do some small workout - some exercises with my body weight," said Jairo Muñoz.

Jairo, who works in the Hybrid Nanostructured Materials laboratory, added: "At nights I watch some movies and at the weekends I am taking an online Russian language course."

In his work, Jairo mainly researches the mechanical properties of homogeneous metals (steels, copper, aluminum alloys) obtained by the method of intense plastic deformation. A hypoeutectic Al alloy obtained by selective laser melting (SLM) has been 3D printed as a result of his research.

In April, within the framework of the Russian Academic Excellence Project 5-100, NUST MISIS held a traditional series of lectures titled A Month of Postdocs' Lectures. This year, young scientists gave lectures in Russian and English in an online format.

The NUST MISIS PostDoc Research program is an open international competition for university grants to support young scientists with international experience who are invited to conduct joint research at the leading NUST MISIS laboratories. The competition is open to scientists under 35 years old with an international Ph.D. degree and experience in leading international research centers for a total of at least 2 years.

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Written by Craig OCallaghan
As Head of Content, Craig is responsible for all articles and guides published across TopUniversities and TopMBA. He has nearly 10 years of experience writing for a student audience and extensive knowledge of universities and study programs around the world.

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