Career Guidance

PERVIN MALHOTRA Director, CARING Career Information & Guidance, New Delhi e-mail: pervin-et@careerguidanceindia.com or write to -Editor, Education Times, TOI, (3rd floor), 7 Bahadurshah Zafar Marg, New Delhi-110002

MOLECULAR STUDY

I am a student of physics, chemistry and biology. Could you please tell me something about molecular biology and the employment prospects in this field?

Avantika Saluja

Molecular biology is the study of biology at the molecular level. This is a highly challenging and fascinating interdisciplinary science, which overlaps with other areas of biology, chemistry, genetics and biochemistry. Cell biology involves the study of cells, including their physiological properties, structure, organelles, interactions with their environment, life cycle, division and death. Molecular and cellular biology are interrelated, since most properties and functions of a cell can be described at the molecular level.

Like all other life sciences, molecular biology examines and solves a broad range of biological problems, that is designing, producing and testing new drugs to treat AIDS, cancer, asthma, diabetes or new peptides to fight bacterial infection. A lot of work is under way in new areas such as gene mapping, gene therapy and drug delivery systems, which is using advanced DNA technologies.Starting from the evolution of the cell and small molecules, your study of microbiology at the Bachelor’s level would cover areas such as energy, biosynthesis, macromolecules, protein function, basic genetic mechanisms, recombinant DNA technology, control of gene expression membrane, ionic basis of membrane excitability, intracellular compartments and protein sorting, cell signalling, the cytoskeleton, maintenance of tissues, the immune system, among others.

You will learn various computational methods, including molecular mechanics, molecular dynamics, pharmacophore mapping and modelling (plot ting the spatial arrangement of a small number of atoms or functional groups) and some software packages as well. Theory will be complemented with considerable lab work. Gene mapping and gene transfer -introducing genes directly resistant to drought, disease, etc -into plants has tremendous implications for agriculture.

If you are fascinated by the beauty and intricacies of the tiniest life forms and are prepared to work hard, this can be an extremely promising field. You will essentially work on research programmes at institutes, pharmaceutical and agri-biotech firms and universities to provide accurate and reliable diagnostic data based on modern molecular methods to cure disease and develop new and high yielding plants. You could become a DNA fingerprinting expert or work on research projects at the global level.

CRICKET CURATOR

I am a cricket buff but could not go for professional training to join this field. Who are cricket curators? What is the procedure to become one?

Girish Saini

In the world of sport, the `curator’ is a person who prepares a sports ground for use (especially a cricket pitch). The job is equivalent to that of the groundsman’s in some other cricketing countries. Good pitches and grounds are crucial for good matches. So far, the goal has been to make what are called sporting pitches, which offer equal advantage to batsmen and bowlers in a bid to ensure a fair contest. Of late, however, host teams or countries are sometimes preparing pitches tailormade for their strengths, be it batting, pace bowling or spin bowling. This in turn puts the curator under considerable pressure.

Indian curators prepare pitches that assist spin bowling from the first ball. This practice has come under considerable criticism from international cricketers, who contend that it would give an unfair advantage to the Indian team.

To impart scientific training for improving the condition of pitches across the country, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) offers a threeweek certification course, spread over 75 sessions at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium in Mohali, followed by a two-day 150-mark exam. You require a minimum of 60% marks in theory and practical tests to clear the two papers.

Typically, each state association is asked to nominate a curator, who has been associated with pitch preparation, to take the course. It is another matter that 14 out of the 31 curators, who at tended the course, could not clear the exam in July. Perhaps inexperience on the part of participants was a major reason for this outcome.

It is a demanding job for sure. Preparation of the 22-yard pitch starts weeks and even months before a test match. Besides the demands of the home team, you need to take into account the soil and climatic conditions. So, curatorship is a never-ending process. You learn as you go along experimenting with different pitches and stadiums.

BCCI’s Curators’ Manual lists all the modern methods of preparing pitches. But you could also refer to some relevant books published in Australia and South Africa, besides gathering more information on the internet.

NO SHORTCUT

Does any university allow students to take the exams of all three years of a Bachelor’s programme in one sitting?

Is this legal? Being in the army, at times, it is hard for me to take a leave of absence during exams. So, please guide me.

Rakesh Kumar

No University Grants Commission recognised university offers a Bachelor’s degree in one year, any more. All single-sitting BA programmes have been discontinued. As per rules, the duration of a Bachelor’s programme has to be at least three years. However, you will come across a number of unscrupulous institutes colleges or their `agents’ that make these promises. There is no guarantee of their so-called `degrees’ being recognised by the government of India or the UGC.

However, if you are pursuing your Bachelor’s degree from an open university such as Indira Gandhi National Open University, you have much greater flexibility in terms of completing the course, which may suit your requirement, keeping in mind, the exigencies of leave, etc.

FOREST SERVICE

I am a student of chemical engineering, but I am interested in the environment. Am I eligible for the Indian Forest Service (IFS)?

Gautam Wirk

Yes, you are. If you love the outdoors and are interested in protecting our country’s environment and wildlife, the IFS offers a challenging and adventurous career. A career in the IFS is a combination of desk work and extensive field monitoring. It is mainly concerned with the management, maintenance and protection of forest flora and fauna, reforestation, wildlife, revenue collection, etc. To qualify for this service, you need to write the Indian Forest Service exam conducted annually by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

To be eligible for the test, one should have a Bachelor’s degree with at least one of the following subjects: animal husbandry and veterinary science, among others; or a Bachelor’s in agriculture, forestry or in engineering or an equivalent qualification.

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