Exchange Diaries  

By International Relations Cell

Outbound Diaries 2019

Yukta Yadav | Geology and Geophysics

Stanford University, United States of America

Research Area: Sedimentary Geo-Chemistry and Paleoenvironment

Duration: 3 Months

Q: Why do you think FT is important?

A: You get to learn a lot of new things. The main reason for me to choose FT was to explore my own research idea and also, to find out about the approach people there took on Geological problems. Biggest thing which I learnt there is how they fuse modern technology and fundamental theoretical research. It helped me a lot to have a clear picture of my future, to explore myself and more importantly explore my own ideas.

Q: What was your research project?

A: I worked on two research projects. One was a major project and another was a short term project. The first one was on Sedimentary Geo-Chemistry and Paleoenvironment project which is basically a research consortium where we have a certain database and we do statistical analysis to understand the environmental evolution using machine learning methods. The other project was to predict total organic carbon of the Marcellus shale from the Appalachian basin using ML algorithms.

Q: How did you apply for FT?

A: I applied for foreign training through personal mailing. I sent about 5 emails in total. There was an interview session which went for about an hour. The professor was really impressed by my idea and I got recruited.

Q: Are there any pre-requisites for FT?

A: I would advise everybody to take up a project and read a lot of research papers before applying for FT. Also, you should always try to pick a research statement and further find innovative ideas about the same. If you are able to do that, then the professors will be much more interested in hiring you for the position. In my case, I read many research papers of my mentor and since my field was also Geochemistry, I took advice from the professors in my department who too helped me to get into Geological depths by providing Research papers. Reading so many papers develops thinking which helps you in your FT.

Q: How would you describe a typical day at Stanford University?

A: There were many multi-cultural activities. People were there from different countries. Stanford had organised many plays and movies. Along with our work, we had a lot of fun. On weekdays used to work from 8 am to 6 pm. The working hours were flexible which enabled us to access the lab anytime we wanted. We also have a lot of discussions on various problems related/unrelated to Geology. I also participated in various trekking and other activities.

Q: Did you find any significant difference from KGP?

A: One major difference I noticed was that they had a nice fusion of modern Computer Science technologies such as ML, DL etc and fundamental theoretical research. I was able to apply machine learning and data science methods on Geological problems which I have never seen anywhere in our campus here. In KGP, we often treat these as 'non-core parts'. I also found a much more student-friendly environment there. The professors would entertain silliest of our doubts. There is so much scope for undergraduate research with the talent people have in JEE but unfortunately, I hardly find it here.

Q: How did you manage your expenses?
A: Expenses were not a problem for me as I had got a stipend from my professor which covered most of it. For the rest, I was supported by the INSPIRE scholarship. I was staying nearby campus and took a bicycle to go to campus. I used to have lunch in the campus and dinner was mostly outside.

Q: What is the role of CGPA for FT?
A: In my case, CGPA did not play any role. Earlier, I used to think that my CGPA wasn’t that high to get recruited at Stanford University. But later on, as I acquired Knowledge, I thought of giving a go. Honestly speaking, it was just my research idea that the professor liked and was very much impressed during the interview. Obviously, if you have a high CGPA your chances to get into FT increases. The notion that if you don’t have a high CGPA you can’t apply for FT is completely false. I believe that good ideas are the one which led me and I feel more important to FT rather than my CGPA.

Q: How will you describe your overall experience?

A: The FT proved to be very fruitful. I got to learn a lot of new things. I got to explore Geological Depths and now I am very passionate about my further studies which I could not have got staying here. The one thing that I liked the most was the combination of modern methods of machine learning and theoretical studies which we seldom do here.

Q: What advice would you like to give to our fellow KGPians who aspire for an FT?

A: I think that everyone should go for FT at least once because when you go to another country you get to explore so much beyond your potential. It was amazing to notice a vast difference in the way we did research here and that they did there. This teaches you so many new things which you never knew even existed. Moreover, it helps you decide your future goals and plans on whether research is your area or not.