Publish Date: 10th March 2021
Full Circle: Prof. Vikram Singh
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The board clamped on the wall of Vikram Singh’s office has pictures mirroring his love for dogs. An avid sports lover, Singh has taken adopted two street dogs from the campus.
“Most of us extend a helping hand to people on the streets. The dogs and other animals also don’t deserve to go to bed hungry,” he says.
A professor of Chemical Engineering, Singh’s academic journey has crisscrossed through various scientific areas.
So how had the voyage been –migrating from a student to a teacher in the same institute?
“I would say blissful. There was an instantaneous comfy zone. It was like coming back home. My teachers were my colleagues. But this helped me,” he says.
Flashback to 2002—when a young Singh joined the B.Tech program. Vikram hails from a small village in Haryana. While growing up in Old Delhi and then Rohini, he did not have a rigid career dream in mind, but obviously like others wanted to crack the Joint Entrance Exam.
And he did crack the exam in the first attempt.
Chemical Engineering was not his first choice. Singh’s romance with chemical engineering grew gradually.
“In the beginning, I was afraid there is going to be a lot of chemistry involved which was not my forte in JEE. But in the second semester a core course on Transfer Phenomenon, changed my opinion. There was an option to change my stream but I had gradually knitted a camaraderie with the subject,” he says.
And how was the learning at IIT Delhi?
“I was surrounded by smart people and this helped. There was a kind of healthy competition. A lot of the learning took place outside the classrooms. The dialogues between the students and the faculty were stimulating and academically enriching. Of course, there were fleeting moments of stress.”
Leafing out some of his ‘priceless’ moments as a student he said : “ I still remember the cup of coffee that I had in my summers of first year with late Prof. Charusita Chakravarty while discussing an elementary quantum physics problem. I was in awe with her.”
Till the 6th semester, Singh’s future plans were hazy. However, in the final year B.Tech project that was based on modelling of droplet particle collision in a FCC changed his perception of the research ecosystem.
“In this lab, I saw the freedom that one can have as a Ph D scholar. Working late at night, early in the morning was permissible. It was not a 9 to 5 job”.
In 2006 he went to Cornell University to do his PhD and after a six month post-doctoral position at Columbia University, he joined IIT Delhi in 2014.
Finally what was he missing the most?
“I miss the time writing codes, running experiments in the lab and at times living in vacuum.”
Vikram’s PhD work was on motion of particles suspended in viscous fluids. He is currently working with colloids, emulsions, and aerosols with applications in air pollution, algal suspensions, smart materials, and oil and gas.