I think the, I start with the hardest thing.
The hardest thing is to figure out where you really fit in.
It's very hard for a young person to do that.
So I would first say you need the right mentors because looking back at my own life, it was close to impossible for me to figure out what was really, what, what was I good at?
What was my temperament well-matched to do?
It's quite hard for a, for a teenager or someone to figure this out.
So I think you need the right mentor, but let's assume you have some mentor who can give you the right advice.
, What kind of person should you know, or what should you, what do you want to do to go or to get into science or scientific If you want to go into physics,
astronomy, these kinds of disciplines uh, you could go the route I went through, which is through engineering, but that's the harder way to get there.
I think you're better off learning physics.
A lot of astronomy is basically physics applied to celestial bodies, right.
And so I really missed out.
Some very basic physics courses, I, you know, I studied engineering with you guys, so I never studied quantum theory.
I didn't study special relativity ideas, I didn't study general relativity.
you know, these are the things, you know, I use day in, day out, like in my work.
So I had to pick that all up by myself.
It did give me an advantage that knowing engineering will really help you understand telescope data better, because you can really figure out what problems
are there in the data, because you have a basic understanding of how these things work, because you're an engineer, but I would say it's the hard way.
So you're better off learning physics for your bachelor's.
And master's, if you want to you know, this kind of academic route into astronomy or in physics that
said, I think you're, you also need to make sure that you somehow get into a good physics or program.
, And there are not many in India.
So if you're in India, then you really have to do whatever it takes to get it to not any degree in, in science or in physics, but right.
To get to, a more reputed or, or a good institution, simply because even if you're even, let's say some people are really talented, they're good.
They actually don't need teachers.
They can be, they can really do all this themselves, but you do need the right mentors.
And so for that reason alone, you want to be at a, more well-known place, which has more exposure.
So the faculty also has a larger exposure.
can be better mentors.
And then, for any research career, a PhD is must, so you have to do a PhD.
, That's really, the stepping stone is actually the, the time when you really learn how to do research, you learn how to,
formulate a problem because, you know, you can't just say, I want to find, find out the fundamental truth about the universe.
That's not a well-formulated problem.
That might be the inspiration, but you need to learn how to formulate a problem in a way that it leads to an answer, right?
So if you formulate the problem the right way, you're really halfway to the answer.
So you really learn how to formulate the problem and how to really push the boundary of human knowledge just by a little bit.
So think of the PhD, as, if all of human knowledge is a huge circle, you go to one part of the circle and then push the perimeter by a little bit.
And that's the PhD, right?
And so like learning to do that is you need that.
And so you have to do a PhD in terms of what kind of like, should I be a scientist?
Like what kind of skills are required?
At least for physics and astronomy,
you have to really enjoy doing analytic things like mathematics.
You have to enjoy this kind of stuff there's no other way you have to be a little geeky and then.
Uh, You need to get a kick out of, doing little physics experiments, trying to figure out how things work So you should have that natural drive.
I would say that's a must, in terms of personality, persistence because most of academia is a long string of failures, because most things you're going to try will fail.
, So you need persistence grit.
I would even say grit.
You need to be a little gritty to be able to , to be able to face all of those failures and keep going.
, So that's kind of the personality trait I would look for.
And it does also help if you're a little entrepreneurial and that really helps when you get to the faculty level, cause
you need to convince others uh, and you need to convince the funding agencies to be able to commandeer the resources.
You need to be able to sell your idea that's not a fundamental requirement to do science it's a requirement to navigate the system.
We have set up.
The way funding is organized, the way everything is arranged.
And so you need a little bit of that.
, But most of all, the most important thing is you just need to be very excited and passionate about, just physics or astronomy or, the field you're in.
And, and I would tell people like, look to your own life or your past, like, what were the things, which excited you, where did you spend all your time?
What was the thing that you were doing, which made you lose a sense of time, , What could you do for hours and forget what time it was.
Like, are they related to physics?
Are they related to astronomy?
It doesn't have to be exactly astronomy.
But are they related to generally the physical world or the physical sciences?
Figuring out how things work.
Yeah, that's what, that's the advice I would give?
Just one more thing I can add is in terms of career prospects, it is not easy.
So it's good to go in with your eyes wide open, up until you finish your PhD, your career prospects are perfectly fine in
the sense that PhD students, even if they don't become professors or stay in academia, do fantastically well in industry.
If you have a PhD in physics or astronomy or related field, you will do very well, in industry.
But in academia itself, I mean, academia is not, it's a very big target in terms of, jobs.
And the example I always give my students is, I mean, look at a typical professor in his or her life, a
typical professor in physics or astronomy has maybe 10 students, I'm just giving you an average number.
And the number of professor positions is not growing exponentially.
So it's not like you're going to, you know, just like the virus we've learned about exponential curves after
COVID-19, so it's not like every professor, 10 students and the 10 become professors produced 10 of their own.
It doesn't happen.
I mean, the growth is either flat in the Western world or slowly linearly increasing.
It's not exponential.
So the upshot of exactly.
So they hadn't done enough yet.
, And so when the professor retires dies, whatever one out of those 10 students can take that position.
And so nine out of 10 people who do a PhD, you know, I'm giving you an order of magnitude.
I don't know if it's exactly nine out of 10, but it's order of magnitude is right.
We'll go into industry and industry loves this people because they're a little different from the people who have just
done a bachelor and gone into industry because the people who've done, a PhD have learned how to advance the frontier.
a little bit, they've learned how to take a hard problem, formulated in a way it can be answered, break it into smaller parts, which are easier to tackle.
And so that skill is pretty important.
So there are a lot of industry positions where they prefer people with phds.