Simran Kumari

Simran Kumari comes from Jamshedpur, a small town in India. She is now in her fifth year of a joint bachelor's-master's program at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Calcutta. Intrigued by Prof. Nicola Marzari's research, she found out about the INSPIRE Potentials fellowship after visiting his group's website, looking for more information about their work. She has since come to EPFL through the program to continue work on superconductivity in 2D materials. The experience, she says, has been amazing. "Very few girls coming from India leave their country and go out to start a life on their own without any other help. My parents are very proud of me and I was very happy to make them proud."

Interview by Carey Sargent, EPFL, NCCR MARVEL

What do you like best about the topic you're working on?

I have been doing this work on materials and 2D materials for about two years now and I love how you can use computer simulations to find out so many properties. I get to read a lot about different kinds of materials and how they can be useful to the whole society.  If I'm ever able to discover a superconducting material, then it could solve the electricity problem or similar problems for the whole world. That's what makes it interesting and that's why I do it.  

The whole group has helped me feel like it's a home away from home.

What was the best the part of the INSPIRE Potentials experience?

The best part is the supervision that I get, from Professor Marzari and from my immediate supervisor, Dr. Davide Campi. I don't know as much as they do so I get caught in a lot of problems while doing my project and they're always there to help in any way possible… when it comes to the project, or finding a place to stay, everything. I got to learn a lot of things that I didn't know before. The whole group has helped me feel like it's a home away from home.

What are your thoughts on women and science?

Where I come from, women are always supposed to... well, i's like you can study in college, but then it's assumed that they will go take up a job, then after a while start a family, have kids and then live your life... ambitionless. They can't have dreams like going for a PhD. That's something I've seen. Maybe it's because women have been treated like this for a long time and that has not changed a lot yet. But I think that people are changing and programs like MARVEL INSPIRE Potentials will help a lot of girls come out of these situations and have the ambitions that they want to have in life. These sorts of programs will help women a lot.

What advice would you give to girls interested in science?

You don't have to be afraid of anything. You can do anything you want. Anatomically speaking there is a difference between men and women, but brain-wise we're all are the same and you can use it however you want, in whatever way possible. You should have ambitions.

What are your plans for the future? Will you continue on to do a PhD?

I would love to if I get a chance.