Antariksh Dicholkar

PhD students were badly hit by the shutdown

Friday 01 Oct 21

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Antariksh Chandrashekhar Dicholkar
PhD student
DTU Wind Energy
+45 91 87 43 06

During the close down of the country’s institutions, caused by the corona pandemic, universities have been challenged in terms of teaching and research. The PhD students from DTU Wind Energy have experienced this both academically and socially.

In addition to the academic challenges as well as limited opportunities for travel activity, many PhD students missed the contact with their supervisors and colleagues and generally missed the social community while the campus was closed. So, making the PhD has required a lot.

“I think it is really well done that our PhD students, despite the pandemic and all its hardships, have been able to complete their dissertations. From DTU Wind Energy, we acknowledge that these have been difficult conditions. It has been general for everyone but on some points it has been particularly difficult for our PhD students,” says Deputy Head of Department Peter Hjuler Jensen.

A different experience

PhD student at DTU Wind Energy Antariksh Dicholkar confirms that it has been a difficult time to write a PhD. He explains that he has missed the academic environment because he could not hold meetings with his supervisor and meet up with the other PhD students. “As a PhD student, you are more alone because you are not necessarily part of a team,” says Antariksh. When the first shutdown came he felt isolated because he could not get to his workplace at DTU Risø campus for about three months. It had significant academic implications because Antariksh felt stuck in his issues and needed discussions with and feedback from his supervisor and other PhD students to get on with his project. Having those discussions was impossible during the shutdown, and not until he could get back to campus again and get to talk to some colleagues, did he get back on track.
The close down also meant that Antariksh had to cancel study trips to Stockholm and the United States. Cancellations, which meant that he has not been able to build professional communities internationally, which he would benefit from as a PhD student.

Antariksh also felt the consequences of the close down of his well-being privately because he was alone when he came to Denmark and had not managed to create a network outside DTU Wind Energy when the country closed down. He felt very lonely and was alone with his worries about his project - and about the family back home in India.

With this experience in mind Antariksh acted on the situation immediately when the second shutdown came and arranged a working partnership privately with a few other PhD students which helped him. “Being intellectually stimulated by other people is important. Your own thoughts is not enough," Antariksh emphasizes and sums up: "All things considered, I feel that I have missed out on my PhD the experience.”

The problem is general for the PhD students

Antariksh’ points are backed by Professor Jens Nørkær Sørensen who sees a general tendency at the department that the PhD students have been particularly challenged because they missed daily discussions with supervisors and colleagues. “They have not had a research environment to be a part of - especially the foreign PhD students missed academic and social networks,” says Jens Nørkær Sørensen and elaborates: “Many of them have been restricted to doing the research at home, which in many cases has been in small apartments or rooms.” Finally, the lack of stays abroad has been bad for his career, i.a. because they have not had the opportunity to create the international network which PhD students typically get by attending international conferences and meetings with peers abroad.

Another PhD student from DTU Wind Energy, Jenna Iori, from the research section System Engineering and Optimization, tells about experiences similar to Antariksh' during the close down: Her contact with the other PhD students was far less during the shutdown compared to being on campus: “Before the corona shutdown, we, the PhD students, often talked in everyday life or met at the coffee machine and had a chat, and that kind of professional and social interaction was difficult to create when we did not have our time on campus,” says Jenna.

Both of the PhD students look ahead and conclude that it is good to be back on campus.

“Our PhD students have clearly been given a different study time than they had expected and hoped for. Now we are delighted that all of us – researchers as well as students and administrative staff - can meet physically again. Many of our employees come here from all over the world to be part of a unique environment but that environment is only really experienced when we can also be together here on Campus,” concludes Peter Hjuler Jensen.

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23 OCTOBER 2021