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Post-Graduation Series : An Interview with Racheal Marshall

Masters in Applied Remote Sensing for Earth Sciences at ITC, University of Twente (2018-2020)

PhD in Planetary Sciences at Institut für Planetologie Münster (2020-current)


Interviewer: R. Nithisree (GT)

Interviewee: Racheal Marshall


GT: Could you elaborate on your internship experiences?

Racheal: During my bachelors in CEG, I did two internships. The first internship was in my second year through the Indian Academy of Sciences at the Vikram Sarabhai space centre in Trivandrum. It was my first time getting engaged with research. I was clueless but too grateful to have an opportunity to share space with scientists from ISRO. I spent a lot of my time reading research papers and interacting with the other interns, trying to get into the feel of research and being surrounded by intelligent people, and learning the art of asking questions. It was an intimidating experience, but I also learnt a lot from it. I encourage those in the second year to apply for this Indian Academy of Sciences internship; it is worth it.


I did my second internship in my third year at the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics at Grenoble in France. In the third year, you already have opportunities such as Dart internship, Mytax, Charpak. I know applying for internships is stressful. I applied for a Dart internship but was not able to get it. I got accepted into a German institute, but I could not get the funding because Dart is competitive. I also applied for Charpak from the French government and Mytax, but I didn’t get them either. I was desperate and repeatedly sent emails with my CV to professors in Europe almost every day. I was hoping for a favourable response from Dr. Bernard Schmitt, who had worked on data correction and data preparation for the new horizons mission that imaged Pluto. I loved the European style of research, and it helped me narrow down my decision to pursue my higher studies there.


GT: What were the criteria you had in mind while searching for a suitable university?

Racheal: I was only thinking about which course I wanted to apply to. In geoinformatics, we had a geology course, which was my favourite. I enjoyed studying it even though my marks weren’t the best in it. So, I decided to do masters in this course. I was looking for institutes, and only two colleges provided the subject I wanted. I took up ITC as the course period they offered suited my requirement. There are many scholarships available. You have to apply early to have a higher chance of getting it.


GT: Do you think university ranking number truly reflects the standard of education a university provides?

Racheal: To be honest, I didn’t check the ranking for ITC. I would say that for the domain I am interested in, university ranking doesn’t matter. The department you are going into and the kind of research the department produces matters more. If they work on the same line you are interested in, and if they have projects you are interested in being a part of as part of your master’s thesis, then I think that matters more.


GT: What were the exams you had to take to enter your university? Can you elaborate on your preparation?

Racheal: I only gave IELTS exam for my masters at ITC; I didn’t have to write GRE or GMAT. I was under less pressure than those preparing for these exams as they required more preparation. I did start preparing for GRE during the initial days of my third year as I wasn’t sure about my plan. For IELTS, I focused a lot on the writing section, which everyone takes for granted. I didn’t stress myself with the preparation and was focused more on my final project as I thought that was more instrumental for my master’s degree, as I can show I did a great final project and got to do something about remote sensing well. I think for IELTS, just two to three weeks of good preparation, checking past question papers and videos on how to do the speaking test would do you good.


GT: Can you share your plans for the future?

Racheal: I plan to finish the PhD and stay in research, so maybe stick around for more projects in the future. I want to make planetary science more accessible and healthier for students like me to come abroad, pursue these research studies, and stay here for a long time.


GT: What is your view on the Post-Graduation Series?

Racheal: I think it is a great thing to do because I remember being very clueless in college, and I think this would help those who are curious but do not know what to do. As I talked with my seniors in geoinformatics, I realized what others have done and became aware of the possibilities. I believe this would help other students in the same way.


The Guindy Times thanks Racheal Marshall for sharing her experience with us and wishes the best for her future endeavours.