ENS-IISER partnership - IISER Tirupati students’ internship experience

The ENS-IISER partnership encouraged Megha Jacob and Deevitha Balasubramanian, graduate students in biology at IISER Tirupati, to apply for a 6-month internship at ENS de Lyon in 2021.

In the frame of the international strategies and common actions of the Écoles normales supérieures in France, ENS de Lyon has taken the lead in the creation of a partnership with the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) in India.

In 2018 the ENS-IISER network implemented a framework agreement allowing their institutions to collaborate on different levels: development of exchange programs, joint training, seminars, joint research and publications, as well as research internships.

This collaboration encouraged Megha Jacob and Deevitha Balasubramanian, graduate students in biology at IISER Tirupati, to apply for an internship at ENS de Lyon in 2020.

Muriel Grammont , Megha’s tutor, was one of the first French teacher-researcher to go and teach at one of the IISERs in the early days of the ENS-IISER collaboration. She works at the LBMC (Laboratory of Biology and Modelling of the Cell) and manages a team currently working on Epithelial differentiation and morphogenesis in Drosophila.

Deevitha’s tutor was Yad Ghavi-Helm , a research group leader in molecular biology working on a project called Regulatory genomics during Drosophila embryogenesis: functional dissection of enhancer-promoter interactions, at IGFL (Institute of Functional Genomics of Lyon). She had accepted Deevitha as an intern after learning about the internship program and was eager to work with a Master student who already had internship experience, with a good English level and solid skills in biology and computer sciences.

Unfortunately, as the sanitary crisis hit, Megha’s internship contract was canceled and Deevitha had to undertake her internship remotely from India. However, these circumstances did not discourage the two master’s students who chose to apply to the same laboratories for their Master 2 internship. They were both accepted for a 6-month internship by their respective tutor and finally set off for France in September 2021.

Megha’s intership at LBMC

Even though settling down in France was not easy, Megha enjoyed getting acquainted with her colleagues, living with her roommates and building true friendship with them while discovering the French way of life. Moreover, her qualities and skills were greatly appreciated during her internship, from her personal dedication to her analytical ability and wide knowledge in her field. Mrs Grammont was very satisfied with Megha’s work, which was rewarded as Megha was selected to pass an interview for a PhD.

It was a very nice opportunity, I really enjoyed the internship lab, the people and the facilities. Overall it was a very good experience and I actually made friends here.

Megha Jacob

Megha had greater basic knowledge compared to the other students. She was much involved and very competent when it came to data analysis.

Deevitha’s intership at IGFL

As for Deevitha, she also had to adjust to her new life in France, meeting new people every day and working in a completely different field than before. However, she quickly adapted to her new environment and learnt the basics in order to be operational in no time. She had the opportunity to interact with other students and interns coming from all over the world, develop new skills, explore a whole new field of study and acquire new technics. Thanks to her experience at IGFL she was able to apply and be selected for PhD interviews in Europe.

I wanted to experience new technics and knowledge in another country. I got to explore and acquire new skills in a cosmopolite environment, it was a good experience for my personal career. This opened new opportunities that wouldn’t have happened if I had stayed in India.

Deevitha Balasubramanian

Students from IISERs have well developed skills in computer science, as well as in biology. They can also rapidly become independent. This was a positive experience as a tutor.

Yad Ghavi-Helm

Two successful experiences

Now Deevitha and Megha, along with other IISER interns, have become alumni of the IISER-ENS partnership program. As alumni of this program, they will gladly give advice and feedback on their personal experience to help potential or newly arrived interns.

Megha and Deevitha both started their PhD at ENS de Lyon in October 2022.

ENS-IISER internship program

Campaigns are launched every year for internships in both France and India. Internship duration normally ranges from 2 to 6 months. Interns have access to free accommodation, a monthly stipend, and other facilities. If you are interested in an exciting ENS-IISER internship experience abroad, please contact your international relations office. ENS-IISER networks