For a young man from a nondescript village in Himachal Pradesh, the incredible has happened.
Manoj, who hails from a below poverty line family in Heeran village of Una district, has been chosen to do his PhD under Harold Kroto, the 1996 Nobel laureate for Chemistry known for his pioneering work in nano-tech and nano-sciences.
He will be packing his bags for Florida State University by the yearend and will be getting a monthly scholarship of $1,600 to study under the Eppes professor of Chemistry.
"My dream has come true for my idol will be my guide for the doctorate. Fortunately, my topic of research is also nano devices, the latest sensation in scientific circles," gushes the MSc student.
Manoj topped the BSc examination of Himachal Pradesh University from SD College, Bhatoli in Una and then joined Punjab University for his postgraduation.
The first break came when he was selected for a project under a summer research fellowship programme organised by the Jawahar Lal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangladesh.
He was among 1,300 candidates from all over the world and his project was adjudged among the top 10. He was also awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Science Talent Research Scholar award.
Manoj was also among 26 young Indian researchers selected by the Department of Science and Technology to participate in 18th meet of Nobel laureates and students in Chemistry held at Linda, Germany in June this year.
"It was a lifetime opportunity to interact with the Noobel laureates and I was the only student from India with a mere MSc degree," he says adding that Kroto interacted with him for about one-and-a-half hours.
"He perhaps sensed a career in research for me and asked me to apply for a PhD at FSU. I applied and the professor accepted my application," he says.
Son of a petty shopkeeper in the village, Manoj has two younger brothers whom he wishes to support for higher studies.