17 Jul 2013
Science and technology has fascinated me since childhood, Moni Kumari Gupta writes, and I have always been attracted to innovation, discoveries and challenges. I take my inspiration from APJ Kalam, who was a scientist before serving as President of India from 2002-7.
After completing high school at St Joseph's Convent, and attending Science College in Patna, India, I qualified from the Indian Institute of Technology in 2007 and joined the integrated masters programme in chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. I also reached the fifth rank in the Regional Mathematical Olympiad-2005. I was supported by an INSPIRE scholarship from India's Department of Science and Technology.
Summer breaks also motivated me to undertake research in chemistry. I completed projects at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology Hyderabad, and the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. All of these experiences helped me develop and understand challenges in chemistry.
I also enjoy extracurricular activities, especially Bharatnatyam, a south Indian classical dance. I'm an active member of the Choreography and Dance Club, Himalayan Explorers' Club (HEC), Entrepreneurship Development Cell and National Social Service, and took part in the technical festival (Cognizance) at my Institute from 2007-12. I served HEC as joint secretary, secretary and advisor for three years to promote adventurous activities among students at IIT Roorkee.
My academic record and involvements in extracurricular activities have brought me many awards and honours. I was recipient of the Annual Excellence Award from IIT Roorkee Heritage Foundation for excellence in academic, co-curricular and extra- curricular achievements in 2010 and 2011.
I was also honoured for the 'Best Dressed Girl student of 2008-09' of IIT Roorkee by the Director, IIT Roorkee. I won the second prize for my paper on 'Green Chemistry' during Cognizance 08. I scored an All India Rank of 287 in the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)-2011 and an All India Rank of 71 in National Ability Test 2012 for Junior Research Fellowships.
These achievements led me to pursue my research career as a PhD student at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Prof David R Spring. I have been working in methodology development since Oct 2012. My research topic is to explore bioorthogonal reactions and currently I am trying to develop synthetic methodologies for hydrosilylation as a novel bioorthogonal reaction.
My studies and stay at Cambridge are supported by a Schlumberger - Faculty For The Future Foundation fellowship. In my spare time, and with friends, I am planning some science outreach activity to promote science in India. I have started playing squash and I also love sketching. I would like to give my thanks to SCI for further motivating me in my research career.
Moni Kumari Gupta
University of Cambridge