The Young Investigators Meeting 2015 opened in Gulmarg (near Srinagar) today with the Postdoctoral Satellite Meeting. Over the course of the next few days, about 40 postdoctoral fellows will have the opportunity to interact closely with representatives from Institutes across India and learn first-hand about taking their research careers forward. Kickstarting the proceedings, introductory remarks were given by Satyajit Mayor (NCBS, Bangalore), L S Shashidhara (IISER, Pune) and Manzoor Shah (University of Kashmir).
Satyajit Mayor began with a general welcome to postdoctoral fellows, and outlined some of the larger purposes behind bringing postdocs together with young investigators and more experienced faculty, along with funding agencies and institute directors. Where Indian science goes is therefore in the hands of these young researchers, he said. Addressing the postdocs in the audience, Mayor continued: “You need to create completely new avenues of research, and it’s absolutely possible if you quickly grasp opportunities.” He urged them to question the systems we have in place in Indian research, so that we can make them better.
L S Shashidhara followed with an outline of the challenges and opportunities that presently face postdoctoral fellows seeking academic jobs in India. He opined that the Indian economy is now in flux, transitioning from a service economy into a more sustainable knowledge economy. His advice for post-docs applying for faculty positions in India was, “We want more novel, concrete research proposals, not just an extension of your postdoc. Plan for at least five to six brains and fourteen hands, because you will be leading the group.”
Manzoor Shah spoke about the major lessons that he has learned after a decade as a young investigator in India. “As a young investigator, one of the first challenges you have is to identify your own paradigm,” he said. Giving examples from his own journey as a researcher, he emphasized the importance of learning how to ask the right questions, collaborate and hold on to networks.