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Students’ Activities Unplugged

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Sameep Chandel
Dr. C.N.R Rao Awardee, 1st semester – 2007
I joined the institute not because it is a science institute, for both the streams, science and technology were equally new to me. I joined IISER because I believed it would definitely provide quality education and produce world class students. The Institute itself was new, with a unique concept of interdisciplinary courses which I believed would lead to learning across the spectrum of the sciences. Since our college was to come up within two years in Mohali, our classes had started in a transit campus in Chandigarh.
With a warm introductory welcome by faculty members, within few days I felt like being in a family and my new home was ‘ IISER
Mohali ‘. Starting with the good quality furniture and beautifully painted walls, I witnessed the establishment of our new Computer
Lab and Library. I guess these are some of the benefits of being a part of a brand new institution. The computer lab was beautiful with state of the art computers a new operating system ‘LINUX’, which I had never used before. There was nothing to beat the high speed Internet facility. It really became the place of attraction. Our library grew by leaps and bounds and soon had a good collection of popular books in addition to the course books. Our classes were highly interactive as they were taken by learned professionals, who were specialists in their respective fields. We also had weekly seminars by well known scientists which kept us in touch with the current scientific trend. It all filled me with a sense of satisfaction and inspiration showing me how interesting, adventurous, challenging and important this QUEST into SCIENCE is for me and mankind. Side by side our high tech, state of the art science labs started evolving and our lab sessions began quite soon. The lab sessions were really interesting and different in the sense that we had the autonomy to design our own lab experiments using the library and the Internet as references. The Biology labs in particular (though I was from a non-biology background ) were very exciting. The labs had the latest and most sophisticated equipments which sometimes made me feel as though I were working in a spy agency or a secret research laboratory. Ancillary subjects like computer language and workshop practices were useful too. The icing on the cake was that we initiated our own extra-curricular activities for which the institute readily provided the necessary things. Regarding food in the mess, I have no complaints!
As a member of this new family I really felt happy and a sense of belonging has crept into me over the past year. I think I will do my best to make IISER proud of me.

Amol Deshmukh
Dr. C.N.R Rao Awardee, 2nd semester – 2007
I take this as an opportunity to share with you, my past year’s experience at IISER on behalf of my friends. The facilities and
environment at IISER Mohali have been above my expectations. We here, not only learn science but are also trained to be responsible adults. Apart from the main courses we also attend additional courses like History of Science, Philosophy of Science, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Communication Skills, Computer Science and Ethics. We have the freedom to perform our own experiments in laboratories, freedom to discuss our difficulties with all the faculties at any time, freedom to attend seminars, freedom to use the library and computer center after college hours…except, the freedom of bunking classes. Another interesting fact that I noticed here, is that not only the courses but also the teachers are interdisciplinary. We also have visitors who have for example graduated in physics and pursuing research in biology. Thus we can see IISER’s aim in reality; all sciences are one and there are no separate disciplines. I have definitely enjoyed being here and it has been an enriching experience.

Keshav Aggarwal
Dr. C.N.R Rao Awardee, 1st semester – 2008
My life at IISER? It is difficult to pinpoint but I’d rather start with the most special day I have had so far. It was predictably the first day! I did not expect such a warm welcome from the faculty and the seniors who hosted a pretty interesting session which oriented
us towards the life we were going to lead here. It was like the first day in school when you look at the others faces and don’t have a clue as to what he or she means. I don’t know about the others but all I could think of was, what each one of us was thinking of
the other. Many of us were on our guard, after all we were the juniors, and things do happen to us juniors, as you know! Jokes apart, we had a smooth, ragging-free start. The next few days were tiring and confusing. The corridors, the system, the schedule and a hoard of new faces to introduce yourself to. Supportive is a good word to describe the environment. Apart from a pesky mouse
which had me fretting the first few weeks, chewing through my clothes and books, life was and is really good. Interestingly, here at IISER, the students enthusiasm is very often matched by the the faculties own energy making learning a very active and involving thing. Considering that we are a new organization I personally think that with our limited but growing resource we have achieved a lot in a short time. Academically I certainly believe that I do much more with my subjects here than my counterparts in other colleges. How else can I end this? I am literally having the time of my life!

Anshu Gupta
Dr. C.N.R Rao Awardee, 1st Semester – 2008
My experience at IISER has been great. I really like the way we are are taught here. Most of our teachers are excellent and very
supportive. At IISER we are given the freedom to study whichever topic we want and teachers also encourage co-curricular activities.
Classes are also good but sometimes I really feel a little sleepy. I also enjoy biology and chemistry lab work, but don’t like going to
the physics lab. The idea of having a seminar once a week by such prominent scientists from India and abroad is also a good idea
although often things are beyond me. In fact on the whole I really enjoy the pattern of studies at IISER. Apart from studies I have
learned many more things here and have tried somethings for the first time. I have learned to overcome my fear and do whatever I want to. I learned that getting good marks does not matters, what matters is your opinion, knowledge and confidence about the subject. I also tried my hand at table tennis and now I really enjoy it. Our hostel life has been great till date. We are really enjoying it here. Sometimes we discuss some silly topic, laughing and shouting till two in the morning. We are a great headache for other
postgraduate students sometimes. On a lighter note, in the hostel we hardly get an hour or two to study while the rest of the time is often spent cracking jokes. We have a very friendly environment in our class and our seniors are also very supportive. They
always try to help us, whether it is an academic problem, or something as simple as a hitch in setting up the projector for a movie. I also liked the way every festival is celebrated here. Seriously, I have never celebrated New Year and Lohri with such enthusiasm in my life ever. Till now my experience at IISER had been great. Seriously, if I had done better in my PMT exam, I would have been in some medical college mugging up things. But after coming here I realize that I always wanted to be in a place like IISER.

Vikesh Siddhu
Dr. C.N.R Rao Awardee, 1st Semester – 2008
One semester into the MS programme at IISER Mohali, I felt that I had gone through a complete transformation from being a simple science student to becoming an observer. I began to see things differently. Backtracking to the first day, I remember the first time I entered the IISER hostel in the transit campus in Sector 26, Chandigarh or the night our warden Dr. Manash sat with us, the complete first year batch, till 2 in the morning and made everyone comfortable in their new environment. That night I slept like a log; it never occurred me that I was in a different place and that I would stay for the first time without my parents in a different city for a very long time. All of us found in Dr. Manash a warden, a teacher and most of all a friend. The next morning I endured the most confusing hour in my life. The first maths lecture and also my very first lecture in abstract Algebra. The concepts, however well they were explained failed to penetrate my brain, but as months passed and assignments rained on me, I was able to survive the
course with the help of Professor Passi and Dr. Amit’s constant help. Even after all these months of slogging it out I am still not confident about how well I know Group theory and Vector Spaces, but the moment I hear the word ‘symmetry’ and ‘groups’ my mind lights up like a cracker. The topic still excites me and to be frank it does ingrain itself into ones head, a bit, but only after a semester or so has passed. Thankfully biology, chemistry and physics did not follow suit. They started from where we had left them. The first few lectures by Dr. Jagdeep on evolution and Darwin brought out the explorer in me. Discussions in class ensued from the points Dr. Jagdeep made and every student voiced there own point of view rather than blindly accepting one. I had never seen such an atmosphere in a biology class before. The semi-philosophical, semi-biological and tantalizing lectures made me gel with the
then alien subject called biology. Physics in particular has enticed me ever since school and its hold became stronger within the first few lecture by Dr. Arvind. They started with physics and moved into metaphysics easily. Things we had memorized in school were given new reason and logic. With various gedanken experiments and interesting concepts we progressed smoothly through physics.
The labs at IISER Mohali enthused me the most. A completely different style of doing lab work and experiments was truly unique.
With complete freedom to innovate and develop on experiments without caring about formal file work, I got more than I expected
from my lab sessions. The biology lab in particular was interesting as we were prompted to discuss things in the lab rather than just listen to our instructors. Good resolution photographs from our own slides helped me study topic in-depth. To add to all this, synchronization with our theory class was maintained. If I continue to illustrate my experiences about all the lectures and practicals other articles in this magazine may not find a space for themselves; so I will stop now. But I would like to add that the whole new point of view I was made to see was both unique and secretly alluring. It ended up changing me and perhaps that was the only important thing after all. It sure was a bumpy, roller coaster ride the first few months.

Rishiraj Trivedi
Certificate of Merit Holder 3st semester – 2008
Success of a team lies in the hands of its captain. Firstly I want to thank the director, Dr. N. Satyamurthy on behalf of all the IISERians, as he has built a platform on which our success will rest. I can say IISER Mohali is the best place for anyone who wants to pursue science. I think freedom, if given in the right context, plays a very important role in the development of a student . I would like to define this freedom in my words, the freedom which we are given in IISER. Here we can ask any query or question, either related to the course or beyond and we have the full freedom to not agree with the instructor if we are not convinced. Instructors also try their best to make us comfortable with new concepts of modern science as they themselves are researchers. The Library and the Labs are all equipped optimally. Working with classmates in the lab has brought about a sense of cooperation in me which I think is very important for a scientist. Too much science does not imply isolation from recreational activities. The students body run many committees like the debating, environmental, cinema and cultural societies. We celebrate every festival with ‘full masti’, as we call it, and invariably end up have a ball of a time. Actually, I think I am enjoying the best days of my life at the best place possible.

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