Dr Preethi Meher, a 43-year-old mother of two and professor at Central University of Tamil Nadu has won two prestigious scholarships -Erasmus and Fulbright scholarship to pursue her research abroad. The Fullbright Kalam Climate Fellow has presented a proposal to make solar energy more sustainable and scalable.
Her proposal is to use a perovskite in solar cells to make them sustainable and easy to use. Currently, the PV cells/solar plants in commercial use are more rigid and require more space. Therefore, Mehar proposed the assistance of ‘hybrid perovskite’ to make it greener and make them useable on any surface including foldable screens and glass planes.
The scholarship would assist Mehar in auditing non-degree courses, gaining practical experience, and conducting research in suitable settings in the US. Moreover, she would also get a J-1 visa, and a stipend, among other benefits.
According to Mehar’s statements with the press getting the Erasmus Scholarship was an ‘unmatchable’ experience of her life. She was already a 4th-year student at IISc when she received the scholarship. The institution has played a significant role in getting her the scholarship. She also received guidance from a researcher who has already been published in several journals.
Although her scholarship was meant for 6 months she was unable to finish her experiments on time. Therefore, she applied for an extension and got it. Additionally, she received payment for the extra months under the Erasmus program.
To get the prestigious Fullbright Kalam Scholarship, Mehar has to undergo several processes. It includes finding a host faculty in the US, finding the common research interest between the host university and her laboratory, proposal preparation, and submission. Lastly, she had to clear an interview from a national panel.
However, according to her, the most difficult part of the entire scholarship process was the preparation of the research proposal. She has to justify how her prospective research will assist in solving the climate crisis. Moreover, she has to prepare a roadmap of various activities she will engage in during her stay in the US. The easiest part was getting a host because several research groups were interested in her research area.
Dr. Preethi Meher has given advice to future applicants “As an academic, treat teaching and research as inseparable sides of a coin and do not have a bias,”