Life at IISERB

INTRODUCTION

“Vidyayā amṛutaṃ aśnute”

With the motto to “Be immortal through knowledge” , Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhopal was established by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India in 2008 to carry forward the research works in basic sciences at all levels. At present times IISER offers BS-MS degree in basic sciences (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Earth and Environmental Sciences), engineering (Chemical Engineering and Electrical Engineering & Computer Science), BS Programme in Economic Sciences. Apart from BS-MS degree IISERB also offers IPhD degree in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics and one can do doctorate in any of the above mentioned subjects. IISER Bhopal is situated quite a bit far (25 kms) away from the Bhopal city, near the village Bhauri, on the Bhopal-Indor bypass road. We are proud to have Padma Shri Dr. Vinod K. Singh as our founding director of the institute and Dr. Siva Umapathy as our current director.

A TYPICAL DAY AT IISERB

Well, to start with a general overview, a typical day in IISER Bhopal would consist of classes and lab work from morning till evening followed by other activities. Of course, the classes aren’t continuous and depend on the courses you take. Classes can begin from as early as 8 AM and go on till 6 PM in the evening. The practical classes are generally in the post lunch, at least during the first 2 years. After 6 PM, you will find the students in playgrounds or may be in the cafeteria or shopping complex. IISER Bhopal has a sprawling 200–250 acre campus which is beautiful to say the least and it is a delight for many students. You can always spot some people moving around the campus with their smart phones and cameras trying to capture whatever they find interesting. The different clubs are active in the evening hours. You can dine in your mess anytime between 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM. You can visit Hill Side in the morning and in the evening Niralaya is one of best place to give your brain a little peace.  Neeralaya – the dwelling place of water under the project Aapas (water)for conservation of each droplet of rain water. Ideation Hut is there for your late-night gossip, soft drinks, tea or favorite veg – nonveg snacks till 2:30 AM.

Your hostel life is an important part of your life at IISERB. There are 6 hostels(as of now) in total. which includes one PhD boy’s hostel, two girl’s hostel and three boys hostel. BS-MS students will get a doubly occupied room (will probably get single rooms in future) while the PhDs and IPhDs get single rooms or double room as per vacancy.  There are also four dining halls in between the hostels, each allotted to two batches. Hostel life is fun. You will remember the late night gossips, the group studies or those nail biting football or cricket matches in the common room with your friends. 

ACADEMICS & RESEARCH LIFE

Academics at IISERB is hectic and fun at the same time. You will get in touch with great teachers who are experts in their field and are actually many prestigious award winning scientists. In each semester, you will have a Mid-Sem exam and an End-Sem examination and you can also expect two quizzes in every subject throughout the whole semester. There is a mid semester break in each semester for generally 7-10 days . In the 1st academic year you will have to study all the courses offered to you. 2nd year is the pre-major year, where you have to choose three subjects of your choice depending upon your CPI. 3rd year is the major year, where you will choose your major subject again depending on your CPI. 3rd year onwards you will have some mandatory courses and some elective courses(it can be from your own department or any other department) and it is during this time you will carry on your practical in professional laboratories. Here is a catch, you also can pursue Minor Degree from any other department as per your wish but for that you have to fulfill some criteria which is decided by that particular department. So IISER system is there to make you feel about the interdisciplinary field of science. In the final year, you have to do thesis work which is quite similar to research work along with some courses (not in all cases).

All the departments in IISERB are well decorated with great teachers who are very successful scientists at the same time. We have eminent personalities like Dr. Ashoke Sen (Phys Dept.), Dr. Kankan Bhattacharya, Dr. Biman Bagchi (Chem. Dept) Dr. S.K. Tandon (EES Dept.) as visiting faculties. Every department celebrates its annual meet, where one can attend talks given by scientists, PhD. students and postdoctoral researchers. We have two SwarnaJayanti awardees, Dr. Vishal Rai(Dept. Of Chemistry) and Dr. R. Mahalakshmi(Dept. Of Biological Sciences) in our IISER. Almost every week the institute arranges a seminar where scientists from different institutes come to deliver their talk.

IISERB  provides top class facilities in terms of academics and research.The best part being the laboratories, where you can find all the modern instruments and equipment which will definitely give you the similar kind of facilities like other famous laboratories all over the world. There is a three storey library which has three computer centres and discussion rooms well equipped by plenty of modern computers and a brain space as well. There is another brain space near the hostels. The classes are conducted in a separate building called the Ensemble(Lecture Hall Complex). 

INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPATION 

The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition is a worldwide synthetic biology competition and the biggest of its kind. High school, Undergraduate university students, and graduate/over-graduate students, along with entrepreneurs, and community laboratories, take part in this prestigious competition.

iGEM provides an opportunity to explore synthetic biology and interact with like minded individuals from across the world. Students from different departments constitute the team and work on the various aspects of the project. It’s not just restricted to biology but also involves designing, outreach, mathematical modelling, science communication, content writing and so on.

Raibat Sarker, BS-MS 2017,Department of Chemistry, Participant of iGEM 2020

Team IISER Bhopal won the Bronze and Silver medals in iGEM 2018 and 19 respectively. Currently, they are working on their project for 2020. 

(To know more about iGEM, read the blog: iGEM in India! – THE QRIUS RHINO )

(To know more about the iGEM Team of IISER Bhopal 2020: click here )

Students from IISER Bhopal have also participated and brought laurels in International Competitions like IPT(World Rank 8th,2020), etc. Students like ShivaShankar thinks IPT has been made a tradition in IISERB through which the juniors can get a hands on research experience.

IPT was one major game changing opportunity I got in IISERB through which I was able to show my skills and improve my research experience and solve problems and learn to work with the team and was able to reach the international stage and represent India in the big stage and secure 8th Rank as the Indian team and I secured 4th place as highest individual scorer which gave a huge confidence boost. None of these would have been possible without good teamwork and help of IISERB physics depts who were supportive and encouraging throughout the competition. Carrying the responsibility , IPT has made a tradition in IISERB through which the juniors can get a hands on research experience.

ShivaShankar K.A.,BS-MS 2017,Department of Physics, World Rank 4th (Highest Individual Scorer, International Physics Tournament 2020)

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

If you are going to spend five(or at least four) years of your life in an institute, there has to be a life beyond the academic life. Here comes the sports facility and various clubs to your rescue. If you are a sports person, IISERB will provide proper facilities of all the major sports like football, cricket, basketball, lawn tennis, badminton, TT, volley, kabaddi, kho kho with proper trainers and coaches. There is also one annual sports event called the IISM  (Inter IISER Sports Meet). There are two gymkhanas, one for gents and the other for ladies and Yoga classes occur regularly as well.

…when it comes to IISM, the one week that we spend  in December with all the cheerings  ‘BHOPAL… BHOPAL’ together with people from BS-MS to Ph.D.level, kind of makes us forget about everything else. In fact, IISERB being the overall champions in IISM  for the last two years, we were aiming for a hat trick this year-  but this pandemic is making us wait hopefully until next year. So yeah, IISM 2020 is a major missing

Paersis Weslie, BS-MS 2017, Department of Chemistry, Part of IISM for last 3 years

Club activities are also very common here. The Music club and the Dance club are the most active ones. The quiz club is very popular among the students which hosts quizzes quite regularly and there are tough competitions among the quiz enthusiasts. Besides, one can also engage himself/herself in music club,book club, chess club, carrom club,dance club,astronomy club and drama club. The Astronomy club holds night session meetings and special events on lunar solstice or blue moon day. The Chemistry  Physics , Biology, Mathematics and EES clubs arrange weekly meetings too.

Cricket Ground

FESTS AND CULTURAL EVENTS

Now coming to a very interesting point, IISER will give you a lot of beautiful moments. Various events throughout the academic year won’t let you sit bored. You can’t imagine how beautifully your friend will make you believe something awkward does exist in an event named “Bad-Ad-Hoc Hypothesis”. For one day you can wake the Sherlock Holmes or James Bond in you up (which might be sleeping inside you like Vesuvius) and look for a treasure or you can prove yourself as a modern version of Pablo Picasso using bacteria to paint. You can be a businessman for one day if you want or you can be a good cook. You can enchant people with the food made by you in some events . “Singularity”,the annual science fest and Hukuna Matata will give you something different from monotonous college life.”Enthuzia”,our cultural fest of 3 days every year will definitely ensure that life at IISER Bhopal is not only about Sciencing. IISER Bhopal will give you many opportunities to meet a large number of our respected Padma Bhushan, Pandits in Indian Classical music,dance or literature and also famous singers both Indian as well as foreigners in the SPIC MACAY events.

One other side of IISER Bhopal is the enrichment of a huge different cultural diversities,you may be from different states of our country but Swaraswati Puja, Onam, Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Garba night and Lohri will again and again make you start counting the days of their arrival.If you are not bengali then surely you won’t miss the food during Saraswati Puja or if you are not a Malayali,then you will definitely wait for the Onam Sadhya.

A complete picture of our IISERB is not possible without mentioning  IISM and ONAM celebrations. Onam in IISERB is a combo pack of cultural night, games, gorgeous pookalam filled with loads and loads of fun. Onam sadhya is one of the favorites for the IISERB community

Paersis Weslie, BS-MS 2017, Department of Chemistry, Part of IISM for last 3 years

There is also a day celebrated as our Institute Day,on which the whole IISER gets a different gorgeous look with lightings, foods and fair,this will surely make you feel “I love IISERB”,in front of which your one selfie will add a laurel on the crown of your 5 years’ memory.

LIFE BEYOND THE BOUNDARIES

Situated a bit far away from the main city. IISERB is really a calm and beautiful place. The hill within the campus adds to its beauty. You will definitely enjoy the colorful sunsets at IISERB. But you will also want a life beyond the campus boundaries. On weekends. you can go to the Bhopal city either by the Institute bus or auto rickshaws. If you want to do shopping, you can go to DB city mall or the New Market. There are also a number of restaurants(some of them give student concessions) where you can have your dinner. There are also famous tourist attractions like the Tropic of Cancer,Greater lake, Bhimbetka caves, Sanchi Stupa, Van Vihar national park, Tribal Museums One can also go to Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary or the Raisen fort which are a little bit lesser known tourist destinations. If you are thinking of a bit longer plan with night stay you should definitely go to the Panchmari hill station, Jabalpur, Gwalior, Indore or Khajuraho.You will find a lot of tourist places where you can easily spend few days with your friends or relatives during long weekends or mid sem breaks.

EXPECTATIONS AND REALITY

So,whatever we were explaining till now was something which is kind of a storyline to our readers,now here students will share their experience.Some times 1st year PhD students like Dipanwita feels getting selected for a PhD programme at IISER Bhopal is like a dream comes true. Though till now she is not able to be present in person at IISER Bhopal due to lockdown but the online interaction with PhD guide, friends, hectic schedule even during this pandemic situation and lab members everything have made her to feel,

For a student who wants to make her career in academics or in research with higher qualification, PhD is like a big deal. After completing the post graduation, getting selected for the PhD admission at IISER  Bhopal is like a dream comes true. It’s a better place to learn and explore the field of your interest. But it is also true that you must have something in you. So for me IISER is the perfect place to say  GIVE YOUR BEST AND GET YOUR  BEST.

Dipanwita Palit,1st year PhD,Batch 2020,Dr. Debasish Manna’s Lab,Department of Chemistry

Yes, like any  other institute, here too you will face lots of problems. Sometimes you may think that mess food is a big issue if you are a non vegetarian or sometimes you may become frustrated due to a highly hectic schedule. You may face language problems or peer pressure,it may be academic or non academic but at the same time these all will be a part of your life when we will feel the nature,your surroundings and their varieties. Definitely you will start loving it day by day. You can feel that when you will stay outside of this institute during long vacations. IPhD students like Ayush also feel the same.

Life in IISER Bhopal is simply fabulous. I came here as a IPhD student who wanted to experience the world class research facilities. Though the schedule is frustrating sometimes but still, I am very much impressed by the research environment of the institutes, my friends as well as the nature of the campus is absolutely sublime.

Ayush Bose, 2nd year IPhD 2019, Department of Chemistry

ShivaShankar from Physics Department feels focusing on research based studies and ample research environment made a huge change in his approach towards a problem.He didn’t forget to mention that the institution made some major changes in his character and giving him the many opportunities to open up his inert qualities.

There are two important things that have changed after joining IISERB , One is the research attitude which was one of the mottos of IISERB. My approach towards problems have totally changed in the past 4 years. The next important thing was obviously changing from an introvert to someone who can confidently talk in stages and talk to new people.

ShivaShankar K.A., BS-MS 2017,Department of Physics, World Rank 4th (Highest Individual Scorer, International Physics Tournament 2020)

IISER also makes brilliant researchers,those who take admission for BS-MS degree many of them have a chance to go for a job after completion of their BS-MS,for that we have a placement cell also but most of the students go for higher studies.May be the course curriculum is different from others but we will get to know about the relevance of that kind of curriculum when we will get in to proper research field during PhD.At least one of our alumni and prestigious SPM fellow Sooraj thinks so.

I am extremely thankful to IISERB for developing me into who I am today through the BS-MS course. The excellent curriculum, eminent teachers, passionate research guides, high quality state of art facilities, interdisciplinary approach of research, etc. have inspired me in generating a passion for science. The research-oriented learning, laboratory training, and final year project in IISERB have helped to develop the skills of critical thinking and understanding research problems, which is much useful for me in my PhD research. I should say that the knowledge and skills I acquired from IISERB have helped me in securing a PhD in IIT Madras, as well as SPM fellowship. I am always proud to be an alumnus of IISERB.

Sooraj B.S., BS-MS 2014,SPM Fellow, PhD Student, IIT Madras, Department of Chemistry, Dr. T. Pradeep Lab

So far we have seen our IISER from the POV of an IISERite. Let’s now see what a on-IISERite thinks about IISERB. Ratul came to IISER Bhopal for his summer IAS summer internship in 2019. According to him, the summer not only exposed him to state of the art research but also gave him tons of good memories to cherish.

I have recently completed a two months internship at IISERB in the Chemistry department. During that time I met people from different place and background who taught me so much. The infrastructure is very good and the exposure I got there is unbelievable. There is no doubt that IISERB is one of the best places in India, to learn and do research on chemistry. But the thing for which I will remember this place are the people. Everyone there was very cooperative and helpful. I made new friends and many memories. I hope to visit there again soon.

Ratul Banik, T.Y. BSc. student, Fergusson College, Pune

CONCLUSION

Of course, it is not all roses and there are a lot of problems to deal with. There will be bad days when things won’t go the way you want them to. It may be a bad day in the lab, you may get a bad grade, screw an experiment or a quiz, etc. Life at IISER is definitely not a cake walk but one enjoys it once one is accustomed with the system! Hope that we could give you a rough overview of our IISER and all IISER Bhopal students will be more than happy to invite you in our IISER. It is very difficult to have a generalized thing since the student population of IISERB is so varied! (Which again is a great aspect)

Last but not the least, thanks a lot to each and every student who provided us with their valuable feedback and also the beautiful photos.

Written by,

Soumyanil Adhikary & Shubhankar Kundu

BS-MS 2017,Department of Chemistry, IISER Bhopal

Photo Credit: Dr. Ajit Bhand, Pranav Sreekumar, Avisek Das, Subhajit Chakrabraty, Rajesh Dey, Raibat Sarker, Shubhankar Kundu, Parth Naik, Arihant Tiwari & Swayangdipta Bera. Special thanks to IISERB Photo Bucket.


About the author

Soumyanil is a 4th-year BS-MS student at IISER Bhopal, pursuing Chemistry major. Other than studies he likes playing guitar and read novels. He loves travelling and has travelled a lot; recently he has done his first trek. Besides he takes interest in cooking and needless to say he is a big foodie too. He is a big fan of football and cricket as well. Also, He is associated with The Qrius Rhino!

Shubhankar Kundu is pursuing BS-MS integrated degree in Chemistry from IISER Bhopal. He is a DST-INSPIRE fellow. In his leisure times, he loves writing poems and his is also a fantastic painter. He has a knack for music and loves to play violin. He also loves to recite Bengali poems and football is his most favourite game. Except this he is a die hard fan of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Exploring unknown places and photography, these are his noteworthy hobbies. Shubhankar is one of the of admins and blogger of The Qrius Rhino.

5 thoughts on “Life at IISERB

  1. Subrahmanyam Devarakonda says:

    Wow. This 10 min read took me to the journey of beautiful life which I will be having in IISERB. I am 1st year IPhD student, haven’t visited the campus yet. For me, this was very helpful and amazing. Thank you guyz. Great work.

    Reply
  2. Rittika Dey says:

    Beautifully , both the authors, have put forward the pros and cons. Yeah, that’s true, though the schedule becomes hectic at times , finally I fall in love with this place, for it’s academic excellence , infrastructure, and diverse field of research, under the guide of such eminent prof. All are put together, in a perfect way, sums up IISERB.

    Reply

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