The mission of a Chevening scholarship holder to provide drinking water in India
Chevening Fellow Suphiya Khan a Chevening Fellow is a perfect fit for Banasthali Vidyapith, the world’s largest women’s university in Vanasthali, India. The Associate Professor in the Department of Biosciences and Biotechnology has received several awards for her work as a woman in STEM.
Its vision is to reverse the water scarcity caused by pollution. Fluoride contamination is a crisis that affects not only India but around 200 million people around the world. His groundbreaking research on the removal of fluoride from drinking water has been featured in Nature (the most cited and respected scientific journal) has been recognized worldwide.
“My research has led to a new inexpensive method of removing harmful fluoride from drinking water with specially designed teabag shaped bags,” she told Dr. John Hoffmire in an interview. “It is always my priority to provide affordable water solutions to communities and one day make India a country where there is no water with too much fluoride.”
Currently, Khan has launched his own start-up to provide drinking water in his country. She plans to leverage her Chevening Fellowship for Research, Science and Innovation Leadership at the University of Oxford to further her knowledge throughout her journey to becoming a bio-entrepreneur.
Below, we tell him about his current 10-week Chevening scholarship experience and his impressive career trajectory:
Tell us more about your Chevening experience and why you chose the University of Oxford.
I recently launched my startup, Drumlins Water Technologies Pvt Ltd, which has a vision to develop affordable drinking water and defluorination technologies for communities and women’s empowerment.
I am confident that my time as a Chevening CRISP Fellow will provide me with a platform to nurture my professional network, skills and leadership qualities. It will also give me the opportunity to explore the business element of the technology that I will be using when converting my lab patents into affordable products and services.
In addition, the chances for me to forge lasting bonds with Chevening alumni and the reputation of Chevening itself motivated me to apply for the scholarship. I want to discover and share the relationship between research, innovation, policy and technology from an academic point of view. In addition, its relevance and implications for India are also important.
Out of the small percentage of women in STEM, tell us about your impressive career trajectory and awards in science.
I obtained my MSc from Science College at MLS University in Udaipur and completed my PhD in Biotechnology at Banasthali Vidyapith, where I am also an associate professor. I consider myself a scientist and a teacher by passion and a bio-entrepreneur by choice.
My own journey from scientist and teacher to entrepreneur is full of triumphs and multiple failures as I walk this less explored path. However, this trip gave me enough confidence to guide and encourage other women scientists to become entrepreneurs.
I started my scientific journey as a biotechnology research associate and setting up a DNA fingerprinting lab in Banasthali, which is in a remote area endemic to fluorosis. I have a PhD in Biotechnology and have worked on the interaction of science, law, politics and part of the intellectual property cell of the university.
In addition to that, I am a member of the International Relations Unit, the Anti-Harassment of Women and Anti-Ragging Unit. Over the past 10 years I have worked to solve the fluoride contamination problem and in this journey of several trials I have also had many successes.
To add further, I am the recipient of numerous national and international awards. I received the Chevening Research Science and Innovation Policy Fellowship from the University of Oxford, the BIRAC-TiE BIOTECH WInER Award, the Women Transforming India Top 30 2019 and the Wonder Women in STEM (for her contribution to science and innovation).
I founded the spin-off company Drumlins Water Technologies which has received numerous awards and funds for innovation. Currently, I am part of the multi-institutional and transdisciplinary research fellowship as a private researcher at the Water Innovation Center.
My success story was shared as a female entrepreneur leading change in India by NITI AYOG through Minister of Defense Shri Rajnath Singh. Not to mention my 17 years of teaching experience.
My vision is to translate my research into affordable water purification technologies and products. As a scientist, educator, and entrepreneur, I am following the new path of encouraging scientists to follow generally less traveled paths like me.
How are you using the knowledge and skills gained in your fellowship experience now?
The Chevening opportunity came at the right time in my life journey when I was confused about commercializing my lab technologies. It is a scholarship that changes my life and helps me understand British and Oxford culture. With the support of mentoring to improvise my perspective, thought and vision, I will cherish the beautiful memories created in the UK throughout my life.
What were the practical learning elements of your course? Can you apply the theories you have learned from these experiences now?
Project work in the program taught me hands-on training, skills development for business models, business strategies, etc. I have acquired a lot of practical knowledge which I apply on a daily basis, but leadership skills are something that I have learned and which help me a lot.
Is there something you wish you knew more about?
How to convert laboratory technologies for use in the market.
What advice do you have for international students who wish to apply for a Chevening scholarship?
When preparing your application, be honest with yourself and clearly write down your standard operating procedures. Don’t copy and paste from anywhere as your app should be unique like you.
What do you plan for the next 10 years?
The next five years in India and the next five years in Oxford.
Is there something you missed from home abroad?
Parties and family!