Watch Out!
Student Media
Body of IITR
About Guide Get Involved

Summer 2019

Summer Diaries:Australian National University

August 5, 2019
- Akash Jat

Hello everyone! I am Akash Kharita , A 3rd year undergraduate in geophysical technology , Earth Sciences ,IIT Roorkee. I spent my summers working at the Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I have a lot to share about this memorable journey.

Making It There

It all started last year, being a motivated student I really wanted to do something in the planetary geosciences field. I had worked on a project in summers in my department, So I started shooting mails to professors around November - December, I emailed to around 100 professors, out of which I received a reply from 5-6 professors. Even their replies said that they didn’t have enough funding or time. Although demotivating, I kept trying and still got no result. One day while I was searching through the opportunities that Australian National University provides, I found out that there is a scheme known as ‘Future Research Talent Travel Awards’ for Indian students which seeks excellent students from India and provides funding. But it is a very tedious job to apply to the aforementioned scheme . There are two methods to apply for this scheme, either you have to be nominated by your department (there are only two nominations per department ) or you can mail the corresponding professor, discuss your research proposal and interests with them and if they agree, have an interview with them and then get accepted by their Head of Department. Since I was just in second year at that time and already two students were nominated by my department, I choose the latter path. I searched the staff directory of ANU, found the professor, whose research interests matched mine and mailed him about my interests and also sent him a research proposal. He enquired about me with my professor here and asked me to send me my resume, then he took an interview. He was impressed by my credentials and made a request to his HOD for accepting me.

The HOD accepted me and I got mail from their manager that I have become a FRT Scholar. That’s how it all started. A contingent of 50 Scholars were selected from India under this scheme for doing research in various departments in ANU . There were a lot of fun programs scheduled for us as a part of this scheme. So in December I was all set for attending ANU in summers and started preparing meticulously to align myself to the latest research in the field. In the meantime, I had to apply for a passport, which took me a month, thanks to Indian bureaucracy. And then I applied for a visa. To procure a visa, you need to show various support letters and funding letters, all of which were provided at the time by our manager at ANU. I finally got visa after 21 days of online applications and booked my tickets for Canberra in March.

Getting There

I booked tickets with Singapore airlines, I was very excited as well as equally nervous, as I had never travelled on a flight before. So basically everything was a first for me, my first air travel, first Singapore airlines flight,and my first time working under a foreign professor. So I boarded the flight from Delhi to Singapore. When I landed in Singapore, I was amazed by the charm and vastness of the airport. As I had a 2 hour layover there, I explored all around the airport and was thrilled to see the kind of decorations they had. After that I boarded the flight to Sydney, I had a bus transfer to another terminal at Sydney airport (yeah ,time to upload instagram stories :) ), the bus was really amazing, climate controlled and even had a toilet! The weather at Sydney was fairly sunny, which was obvious due to its closeness to sea. Then I took a domestic flight to Canberra and reached the Canberra Airport around 11 in the night. The weather in Canberra was very cold for which I was prepared as I knew it was winter there in southern hemisphere and I was advised to bring a lot of woolen clothes by our manager. So the moment I stepped out of plane , I was thrilled and decided that I will make the most of this internship . By that time, my phone had discharged and I needed to contact my roommates who had arrived earlier. I took a taxi, the taxi driver was Indian and he helped me to contact them. I finally reached my room which was on the 10th floor of my apartment.

About My Accommodation

There was a Whatsapp group consisting of all the members of this contingent and our Manager and some previous year scholars. Thanks to them for providing continuous guidance about everything from visa application to accommodation. Everyone began to search for accommodation in early April. I found a group of 3 scholars searching for 4th person to share their accommodation, I prefer to live in a group because it is safe and cheaper option as well. In this way a group of 4 formed and we began to search and discuss various accommodations from Airbnb and fortunately we found a very nice and luxurious apartment suitable to our budget. We immediately booked it for two months. The benefits of this accommodation were the following -

1. It was reasonably priced

2. Very close to the city centre

3. About 1.5 km walk to my department

4. Scenic view of Parliament ,Mount Ainslie and Lake Burley Griffin from the balcony

5. Free cleaning service,wifi,swimming pool, gym

The Work

I met my Professor the next day and received a very warm welcome from my department. I was given an ID card, office room, access to all stationary items and a lot of chocolates. Then he showed me around the labs while discussing what work we had to do. I was amazed by the amount of new instrumentation they had. I began my work on the next day on analyzing Lunar Sample brought during Apollo 16 mission. I was thrilled to touch the rock sample that was once brought by astronauts from the moon. My work involved some image processing, i.e. to smoothen the previous image and make its resolution better, I used MATLAB for that. Then I performed a series of instrumentation on the sample to analyze it in every way possible, our main goal was to understand the origin, the thermodynamic conditions under which our sample crystallised using mineralogical and petrological data. I learnt the operation of many instruments like EPMA , SEM and most importantly SHRIMP. All my lab expenses were covered by my supervisor. I was very enthusiastic at work, I always had a target to complete my work without any delay. I attended a lot of seminars on planetary sciences and got myself acquainted with the very thriving research environment developing there. My supervisor Dr. Marc Norman guided me through every stage of internship and we had a discussion on coffee table about the latest developments in planetary sciences. At the end, I submitted my report and am expecting my paper to get published by next year. I was awarded FRT certificate from Nobel Laureate and Vice Chancellor of ANU, Dr. Brian Schmidt , it was like a dream come true to talk to him and receiving an award from him.




The Fun Part

I travelled a lot around Canberra and Sydney, which was a 3 hour bus ride from Canberra. In Canberra, I visited the National Parliament, National War Memorial, National Museum of Australia, Australian Botanical Gardens, Mount Ainslie, Zoological Park and Telstra Tower. Each place had a different blend of information and excitement. Night View from the Telstra Tower was breathtaking. I made a lot of Australian friends who were very friendly. I remember walking 10s of kilometers to explore the city at night and just asking someone for was sufficient to get back to my apartment.


Lake Burley Griffin, artificially prepared lake was one of the best places to hangout on weekend. The best part was to spot the kangaroos randomly hopping out of nowhere from the side gardens.


Sydney: The Emerald City We had planned a 3 day tour to Sydney. When we reached there, our first point of observation was Watson Bay, I was awestruck by it’s beauty and the view from there. We did a lot of photography there and then went to the Harbour bridge where I was completely awestruck by how amazing that was. There was a vivid Sydney festival going on, for which the city was fully decorated with pink lights due to which the night view of the city was out of this world. The most beautiful thing was to catch a ferry from circular quay and enjoy the view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in one frame. The next day we bought a city pass to explore four tourist sites -Sea life Aquarium, Sydney Tower , Madame Tussauds Museum and The Zoological Park.

The Sea Life Aquarium was the best aquarium I had seen, I saw a wide variety of fish, turtles ,octopuses. I saw the penguins which were kept in an artificially cooled seperate hall. I saw dangerous sharks swimming above my head, (yes by this time we reached the deepest point ) While returning we saw many sea rocks and plants that were found in different parts of the world. Later we went to Sydney Tower and the view of the whole city was mesmerizing.

On the third and last day we went to Manly Beach, Bondi Beach and the world famous Bondi- Coogee Walk. Beaches were very beautiful, we played around, ventured a few metres into the sea and then sunbathed. I wished time to freeze at that moment. Overall it was very amazing and a once in a lifetime experience.

Advice to Fellow students


Never stop trying, I got a C.G.P.A of 6.5 in my 1st Sem, but by the end of 3rd Sem, I converted it into 8.8. CGPA although not the only criteria, plays an important role in securing research internship. Discover your passion. Many students just want to go abroad and spend their summers there without caring about their passion,this should not be the case. For you, the priority should be your work and your desire to learn, then come other things.