11 Nov Kalpana stories- Dr. Monali Moirangthem
“If you are passionate about your goals, nothing can stop you from achieving them. The key to success is believing in oneself”, said Dr. Monali Moirangthem, R&D Scientist at AOC Resins, Netherlands. AOC Resins is one of the top three companies working in composite polymers. They have done tremendous work towards building application-oriented products. She is an expert in smart polymers, the composite materials which have various applications in the automotive, marine, and construction industry.
Her STEM journey started from a humble background in a village near Imphal, where she was born. While growing up she dreamt of becoming an IAS officer, with the motivation that this position will help her improve the education sector in India. At school, she excelled in academics and scored top ten marks in the state high school exams. While studying at college, her love for mathematics drew her towards science but she credited her attraction towards chemistry to the “Salt-Analysis” hands-on experiments practiced during the lab sessions. Pursuing her passion for chemistry, she graduated from St. Stephens College, Delhi University. She was selected for a summer fellowship in Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru for three consecutive years and after that, there was no looking back for her. She knew she was passionate about research and her zeal drove her to pursue higher education. She completed her master’s degree in Chemistry at JNCASR and then moved to the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands for a Ph.D. in Functional Polymers.
Although coming from a small village in northeast India made life difficult it was her passion for science that motivated her to continue. She struggled a lot during her masters and went through one of the lowest points in her life at that time. She overcame a great deal of personal and professional difficulties while reaching the Netherlands for getting her Ph.D. degree. She says, “Being a girl made things more difficult for her. But being a woman also kept her motivated. Being a woman makes you stronger and not weaker”. She received several scholarships such as DST INSPIRE and POEC fellowships which helped her ease financial burdens. Today she recalls the advice she received from her school principal “being an IAS officer is not the only option to serve people. You can be a scientist to serve the society”.
For attracting students towards different STEM fields, she suggests educating them with fun hands-on experiments in classrooms, especially providing opportunities to young girls through proper guidance and motivation. She also stresses the need for doing internships, attending more workshops, and networking. “ While connecting with your seniors and professors do not hesitate. One should seek guidance wherever possible”, Monali said. Besides, she feels that to increase the number of women in STEM we need to have more women role models to empower girls to follow their dreams. “Financial reliability helps young girls to focus on their goals as many young girls come from underprivileged backgrounds. Efforts should be made towards changing the mindset of the community to build a women supportive society where both men and women have equal opportunities and support” said Dr. Monali Moirangthem.
Author- Priya Butola.
Intern, Program Kalpana Communications Team
Watch the full panel discussion – “Building the Career You Want” – Prof Pratibha Jolly (Miranda House) and Dr. Momali Moirangthem (AOC Resins)