A meritorious student throughout her life, Ishamol Shaji had found it difficult to pursue higher education due to income constraints. Her father, a daily wage worker in Alappuzha, Kerala was the sole breadwinner of the family.
This is when, Ishamol, came across a scholarship offered by Vidyadhan. “In 2010, when I joined I was selected based on my 10th board marks and interview," said Ishamol. She got the scholarship amount for both classes 11 and 12 as well as for her college education.
After scoring A+ marks in SSLC in 2010 and 97.3 per cent in higher secondary in Kerala state board in 2012, Ishamol Shaji wanted to pursue higher education. After her 12th she appeared for the IISER aptitude test and secured admission to the Trivandrum branch. She completed her integrated BS-MS in Chemistry from 2012 to 2017.
It was during her IISER years that she found her love for research. “IISER helped me strengthen my interest in science and improve my research skills through various internships and master thesis work," said she.
Post her graduation, she joined as a doctoral student at IEK-12, Helmholtz Institute of Munster, Münster, Germany from February 2018 to December 2021 via international scholarships.
She wanted to research solid-state polymer electrolytes for lithium metal batteries. The research focused on developing eco-friendly, low-cost, organic solvent-free solid-state electrolytes for lithium metal batteries. “The research goal is to replace classic flammable liquid-based electrolytes with safer batteries," she explained.
During her doctoral studies, she gained four years of experience developing novel solid-state polymer electrolytes for alkali-metal batteries, polymerization techniques, electrochemical cell characterization methods, and battery cell testing. She is currently staying in Germany to complete her doctoral thesis submission and related procedures.
It was love for PhD that took her to great heights. “You should not approach a PhD programme as a pathway for working abroad or for a high pay salary." she said adding, “If you are not passionate about core research and not aiming for an academic position, you can choose a topic which has more industrial applications, then the chance of getting a job is higher as compared to pure research topics," explains she.
“Being a battery researcher, I am looking forward to working in the electric vehicles industry, especially in the Research and Development sector, focussing on developing solid-state batteries. Countries like Germany offer high job opportunities in this sector, and I am currently searching for a new job," she said.
Ishamol has a sister who has completed her BTech, and currently, she is working as a software developer in the UAE. Ishamol is married and her husband is working as a r.esearch associate in UAE University