July 27, 2017
She grew up in a small Indian village and was the first in her family to pursue university studies – Dr. Paulami Manna is now attending Jacobs University for one year. As a holder of a fellowship from the renowned Schlumberger Foundation, she conducts research as a post-doc in chemistry professor Ulrich Kortz’s working group. “The fellowship promotes top female talents from developing countries who return to their home countries after their studies abroad”, explains Prof. Kortz. “This is really great. I am very pleased that Paulami succeeded”.
However, success for Paulami was not a given from the start. The reason is that more than 600 women worldwide applied for the “Faculty for the Future” fellowship of the Foundation, headquartered in the USA and the Netherlands. Only 38 new fellowships were granted, a further 140 were renewed. The Schlumberger Foundation promotes the education and scientific career of women from developing countries in so-called MINT subjects – Mathematics, Information Science, Natural Sciences and Technology. The fellowship holders are intended to become role models. The aim for them is to make a contribution towards more women finding their way into leading scientific positions back home.
In India, Dr. Paulami Manna received her chemistry doctorate from the University of Hyderabad. Only every seventh doctoral candidate was female. Her faculty has 24 lecturers, only one of them being a woman. “The common view among lecturers and students is that women should not even attempt to seek a career in the sciences – that they first get married or find a job”, she says. “Frequently women are not even recruited for research. I would like to change this”.
The multi-award winning scientist, who is also committed to the education of women in rural areas, will be studying so-called polyoxometalates at Jacobs University. These are multi-talented creations of the inorganic nanoworld that, among other things, can be used as homogeneous/heterogeneous catalysts or electro/photocatalysts – for example, for water splitting to form hydrogen or oxygen, for reducing CO2 and thereby for generating renewable energy and climate protection. “My dream is to become a chemistry professor”, says Dr. Paulami Manna. Of one thing she is certain already: “With my work in Prof. Kortz’s group, I am getting a step closer to achieving my dream”.