"The objective is not for the student to memorise, but understand the concepts being taught"

Samiran Bairagi is PhD student within Thin Film Physics research division. After having concluded his master's studies in nanoscience in Singapore, he looked for a place to advance his expertise. He found that at the Department of Phyiscs, Chemistry and Biology (IFM) at LiU. We asked Samiran to tell us a bit about the learning and lab environment at IFM, where parts of the Materials Physics for Nano and Quantum Technology master's programme take place.

"LiU provides me a platform to hone my skills and advance my expertise. A very interesting thing about research at IFM is that one is not constrained to only work on his/her Photo credit SAMIRAN BAIRAGIassigned project. You are in fact encouraged to meet other researchers, discuss mutual research interests, and collaborate if we find something interesting. This opens a world of possibilities as you not only get a broader perspective about your own work, but you get to learn new things, thereby generating new ideas."

Name: Samiran Bairagi
From: India

Tell us more about the research opportunities, the learning environment and the lab facilities!

"If one wishes to try a more hands-on approach, there are many different labs available. It is relatively easy to contact the person responsible for a particular lab of interest and get training on instruments that one wishes to use or collaborative experiments one wishes to perform. The infrastructure is very well laid out, in my opinion, with dedicated personnel for different labs and instruments who maintain proper functionality and operability, while adhering to the safety guidelines. So, there are ways and means to always learn new things, if one wishes to.”

Tell us about your background. What were you doing prior to coming to Linköping?

“I have a Bachelors in Electronics and a Masters in Nanotechnology. Prior to LiU, I worked in Singapore at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in collaboration with Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) towards development and synthesis of anti-microbial wound dressings. The goal was to synthesize nanofibrous scaffolds which exhibit synergistic anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, with sustained drug release over long periods.”

In addition to expertise, what tools and skills will a student get at LiU?

“I have assisted teachers with handling labs for students at LiU, and the main takeaway in my opinion is the encouragement to learn. Teachers allocate a considerable amount of time to design lectures and tasks in a way that the student is encouraged to think – the objective is not for the student to memorize, but understand the concepts being taught. The labs are taught in the same way to complement theoretical understanding with a hands-on approach where students are encouraged to think and come up with solutions to a task. I think this helps with better understanding of physical concepts and helps with development of problem-solving abilities both in the real life and in academia.

There are several student organizations also present in campus which one can join based on interest. They organize fun activities which helps with development of interpersonal skills.”

What is the most exciting research within LiU right now, within your area?

“This is a tricky question to answer. Even within the division I work in (Thin Film Physics), different research groups work on various projects and each one of them is involved in fascinating science. I might be biased, but personally, I find projects with a biomimetic aspect the most exciting.”

What do you want to accomplish in the future? In what way will you do difference to the world?

“With my work I hope to contribute a finer understanding of the optical and growth behavior of nanostructured thin films, leading to the advancement of fields utilizing this knowledge. As I have progressed in my studies from electronics to nanoscience, I have noticed an amalgamation of traditional scientific disciplines to produce and understand new materials. Looking ahead, I wish to impart the knowledge I’ve gained from this interdisciplinary experience towards providing solutions for the advancement of science, technology and society.”

In what way does Linköping University support you in this ambition?

“LiU provides me a platform to hone my skills and advance my expertise. I work with experts involved in different aspects of thin film growth, tailored towards interesting optical phenomena. I am learning the underlying principles which enables such coatings to be synthesized, and which properties make the coatings useful in certain applications – all of this was made possible firstly, thanks to my supervisors who had relevant projects ongoing; and next, to LiU which had the infrastructure where these research projects could be performed.”

Why do you think others should choose to study in Linköping?

“What I think is a huge benefit of education at LiU is its emphasis on learning. The teachers here put in a lot of effort in designing their lectures, lab tasks, etc to enable students to properly understand concepts, whilst being easy to approach in case a student needs more assistance. Well maintained infrastructure is another important merit in that regard.”

What are the advantages of studying in a medium-sized city in Sweden?

“I think this varies from person to person, some may prefer to live/study in a larger city while others might prefer the charm of a smaller city. Linköping has the advantage of being right in the middle – it has the amenities that one is used to in larger cities while also having a fair share of places for recreation – and nothing is too far. With options for culture, history, markets, concerts, sporting events, outdoor activities, etc. there is something for everyone.”

Would you recommend more international students to study in Linköping?

“Absolutely! LiU is quite well ranked amongst universities in the field of material science research, with a high research output. With various industrial connections and a good employability score, applicable students have a higher chance of securing employment. LiU also has several international connections and collaborations, so it is possible to apply for something equivalent to a semester abroad program (SAP), based on performance and interests of a student. As a PhD student, it is possible to perform experiments in collaborative labs / universities to learn something which lies outside of the area of expertise of the group.”

What advice do you have for future international students at LiU?

“I don’t think I am wise enough to advice. But the idea of exploring a new country and experiencing new culture while getting world-class education sounds very exciting to me.”
I have assisted teachers with handling labs for students at LiU, and the
main takeaway in my opinion is the encouragement to learn.