Columns Journey of a YI

The role of YIM in shaping my independent scientific career

Bilal Ahmad Mir

Bilal Ahmed Mir is an Assistant Professor at University of Kashmir- Kargil campus. He attended YIM 2015 as a PDF. In this invited post, he talks about the avenues that YIM 2015 opened for him.

Bilal Ahmed Mir
Bilal Ahmed Mir 

It gives me immense pleasure to share with the readers that participating in YIM2015 held at Gulmarg (Kashmir) as a postdoctoral fellow really helped me in developing some good collaborations, besides getting a permanent position in University of Kashmir as an Assistant Professor of Botany. 

YIM brings together funding agency representatives, directors of almost all the laboratories and eminent scientists from across the globe, thus creating a platform that allows young scientists to access a number of opportunities and a chance to meet other scientists- both peers and eminent figures in a range of scientific fields.

During YIM 2015 besides meeting young investigators and postdoctoral fellows from across the globe, I got an opportunity to interact with a battery of internationally acclaimed researchers like R. Uma Shaanker, Ram Vishwakarma, Dinakar Salunke, LS Shahidhara, Ron Vale, Tim Hunt, Satyajit Mayor and K VijayRaghavan. 

I remember a few productive interactions such as the one with R. Uma Shaanker about research collaborations. It is quite likely that I would have never gotten an opportunity to meet him had I not participated in YIM. Thanks to YIM and IndiaBioscience that I got this excellent networking opportunity. We are still working on some joint programmes like studies on Himalayan Biodiversity, endophytes and on chemical ecology in collaboration with Shannon Olsson of NCBS. Recently, we even organised Science Academies’ three-day lecture workshop on Biodiversity of Kashmir Himalaya in the remotest region of Kargil in J&K.

Again, it is because of YIM I got to know about NCBS and worked with Shannon Olsson for few months and also got a visiting fellowship to join her lab in coming November. 

The other fruitful interaction was with Ram Vishwakarma, Director CSIR-IIIM,(Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine)Jammu, who extended his support for applying to various re-entry fellowships and also with regard to laboratory facilities that are lacking in my lab. I am hopeful to do some research with IIIM Jammu, soon. 

My most memorable interaction was with K. VijayRaghavan who is still hopeful that I will take a lead in Kashmir Himalayan studies. Our campus is located in the remote region of Kargil, making it the ideal place to study Himalayan biodiversity and bioprospection. We have already initiated some joint research in the field of rock-associated microbiology and chemical ecology. In addition, we intend to study the effect of altitudinal gradients on VOCs and plant microbiome.

YIM 2015 was a turning point in my research career as it helped me get an academic position of Assistant Professor at the University of Kashmir and also the prestigious Energy Bioscience Overseas Fellowship of DBT. In short, YIM shaped my career from a postdoc to a young investigator.

It is an uphill task in India to develop an independent laboratory as a YI and to develop as an independent PI. I am still in the early phase of lab establishment but very happy to have gotten the opportunity to work as an independent researcher.

I recommend every postdoctoral fellow to attend this event at least once as it is sure to open up new avenues of taking your career further. I hope to attend this event as a YI again to bring in new dimensions and collaborations in my career.