The world applauded when Professor Venkataraman Ramakrishnan or Venki Ramakrishnan, as he is popularly known, won the Nobel Prize in 2009. Born in the quaint countryside of Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu, in 1952, Venki’s life story is as inspiring as his great work in the field of science. One of the most celebrated biologists in the world, Prof Ramakrishnan’s basic area of study is Physics. Interestingly, it was in Chemistry that he had won the Nobel Prize.
Prof Ramakrishanan had shared the Nobel Prize with noted American biophysicist and biochemist Thomas Steinson and Israeli protein crystallographer Ada Yonath. He had completed his graduation in Physics, in 1971, from the Maharaja Sayajiroa University in Baroda. He then went on to earn his PHd in the same subject from Ohio University in 1976.
Everyone expected him to pursue further research or a well paying job in the field of Physics. However, Venki surprised them by joining for post graduation in Biology at the University of California in 1976 – 78. It was unusual for someone so highly qualified as Venki to enroll for a different field of study, that too at the junior level. But, Venki was determined to pursue his post graduation in Biology as he had realized his true interest. He opened new paths in the study of Biochemistry, making him a prominent name in the field. In 1982, he began climbing the steps of honors for his incredible work in Biochemistry. Venki was relentlessly engaged in research which led him to the most prestigious honor in the history of mankind.
Education experts point out that many science scholars may not be able to switch areas of study, like Venki did, if they studied in India. Here, one hardly studies Biology when he/she chooses Physics as the main subject. In the US, if a person who had pursued courses in the arts subjects can definitely take a career deviation and enroll at a medical school to become a doctor. However, one needs immense courage and determination to take such bold steps while deciding their careers or choice of field of studies. Some may criticize that Venki had been late in finding his right path in career. However, the most amazing fact about Venki is that he could successfully pursue his interests even though it took some time for him to realize it.
It wouldn’t be difficult for the youngsters in India to follow the footsteps of an eminent scientist like Venki, especially in the present age of online education. There is no need to limit your interests to the subjects that you study as part of your course. There are immense opportunities for anyone to study more than one course at a time. All you need to have is a dedicated and open mind that is always ready to keep learning.
Most students look for job oriented courses or education as soon as they complete class ten. They would think of pursuing research or higher education only if they do not get placed anywhere. There are countless people who do a small job that require just class ten as the minimum qualification, even if they are highly educated. It is true that every job is important and has its own dignity. But, it is important to remember that one could switch careers or take a deviation in field of study at any age in life.