Meet Vinod Kumar. Kumar is a first- year Ph.D. student in the Department of Materials Science and Nanoengineering at Rice University. Kumar is from Pakistan and is a Rice Graduate Ambassador. Ambassadors are students who represent the university and help prospective students gain knowledge of student life as a graduate student at Rice.
Kumar chose Rice as a graduate school because of his curiosity and passion to learn more in the field of material science. His research focuses on sustainable solutions to scale-up clean energy resources and explore ways to create a carbon dioxide-free atmosphere.
“We humans cannot tolerate the deterioration of nature anymore,” said Kumar. “We have already lost so many precious lives due to chronic diseases and natural disasters. To preserve mother nature, we need a clean atmosphere, clean energy, and clean water.”
When he is not conducting research, he serves in various leadership roles within the Rice community. He is a part of the Rice Pakistani Student Association on campus and volunteers with various social causes.
Kumar advises prospective students to understand the relationship between them and their future advisor, as well as have a clear understanding of how their advisor’s expectations may affect their journey.
“Your advisor during your graduate studies plays a key role in developing your skill set,” said Kumar. “One needs to have a healthy relationship with the professor to complete their degree on time with good notes.”
“I would choose an advisor after considering several things, like how they appreciate your ideas or achievements and don't compel you to consistently sit in the lab or pressure you for specific tasks. Overall, they should help prepare you to become a good researcher,” said Kumar.
Kumar advises current students to focus not only on producing research but also on producing a better ‘them’.
“Graduate studies is not about having a certain number of publications and spending all of your time in labs,” said Kumar. “You would need to be good at other things as well, such as creating a strong network, polishing public speaking skills, and cultivating a healthy social life.”
Outside of academics, Kumar loves cats and is addicted to tea. Kumar describes Houston as very diverse. “Houston gives me the vibe of Karachi, the city of lights in Pakistan,” he said. “Though Houston is more developed, it has all the food options I used to have in Karachi. Its diversity makes it unique. For Rice, its atmosphere pushes you to bring the best out of you.”