Dr Stephen Dooley is an assistant professor at the School of Physics since August 2016. He is the founding Director of Energy Science, which has commenced at Trinity College Dublin in 2018. Stephen obtained his BSc.and PhD from the National University of Ireland, Galway, in pure and applied chemistry and physical chemistry in 2004 and 2008 respectively.

He then spent three-and-a-half years as a member of the professional research staff at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University in the US. Recently, he visited India to invite Indian students to study in Ireland. He spoke with Rakesh Kumar about Indian students, the opportunities available for them and how they fare in his faculty. Excerpts:

What are the opportunities for Indian students in Dublin University and overall in Ireland?

Trinity College in Dublin University offers many Masters programmes across different sciences and also computer science. There are also Masters programmes in Humanities. I spoke to a gentleman this morning and he is interested in philosophy of Yoga. We have a programme of Masters Read programme, we also have various PhD programmes. So, there are a lot of education activities in Ireland.

How many Indian students are currently studying in Trinity?

In Ireland, there are many ~ I won’t be able to give you a proper idea. But in my programme, Masters in Energy Science, we enrol about 15 students each year. This is the objective and target and this year four Indian students have enrolled. And I think that would be quite typical. I see many Indian students around the campus. I see many Indians around Dublin. And so, I think there is a lot of interest for Indian students in Trinity College. What sort of courses are Indian students interested in? I see Indian students are particularly interested in Physical Sciences and Information and Computer technology and also Business.

What are the scholarship opportunities for Indian students and do you have tie-ups with any Indian universities?

There are scholarship opportunities that applicants can read about. They can apply there for scholarship for the Masters’ degree. Of course, it is highly competitive ~ very highly competitive ~ so we need to have slandered grades and probably some distinguishing quality also. About Indian students and how well they perform in universities, well, I can talk about my experience, if that’s OK. Let me talk about my experience. This year, in my class, I have four (Indian students). Two things I always say about Indian students ~ they are extremely bright and their English is excellent. Right away, no boundaries, no barriers to learning. They are very diligent in my class and always very prompt. In my class, two or three Indian students are always in the top. They fairly represent the top calibre people in the class. They understand about learning, have a process of learning and they take studies very seriously.

India has a different teaching culture and Ireland a different one. Indian students are more into academic and not in research. How do you familiarise or make them comfortable?

I have two jobs: teaching, which I call helping learning, and research. I think the difference between the learning experience, where a student is required to know everything that the professor knows, and the researched experience, is use of the imagination. How you deal with the open blank page so that you can create an idea, (devise) a method to test the idea from the knowledge you have given in class is a skill that can be taught. I see people struggle with this, but it can be taught and you have to persevere.

Any suggestion you would like to give?

Well, I am from the science field. So my own experience is very solid training in fundamentals and a very strong command over the basic level of science. When I say, focus on fundamentals, math is important and being able to communicate ~ speaking and writing ~ is extremely important. Also, presentation skill is extremely important. So I train students in what I notice when they answer a question. Think carefully and pause. Usually, one or two well-chosen sentences is a very persuasive and convincing answer. A rambling 20 sentences is not persuasive. Try to speak carefully and listen carefully, that will be my advice.