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Nobel mentor for rookie

He was one of 1,300 candidates selected from across the world and he didn't disappoint.

india Updated: Jul 20, 2006 03:11 IST

It's his big break. Till a few days back, Manoj was a budding scientist, brilliant but with no money to see his dreams come true.

Today, he has been accepted for PhD studies at Florida University. What's more, he gets Nobel laureate Harold Kroto as his mentor.

The 23-year-old from Heeran village has been a brilliant student all his life, a gold medallist in college.

His first break came when he was selected for a research project by the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research Centre in Bangladesh.

He was one of 1,300 candidates selected from across the world and he didn't disappoint. His project was adjudged among the first 10 and he was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Science Talent Research Scholar Award.

Manoj was one of 26 Indian researchers to participate in the 18th meeting of Nobel Laureates and students of chemistry at Lindan, Germany, in June.

"It was a life-time opportunity to interact with 25 top scientists, all of them Nobel Laureates. I was the only student with a mere MSc degree," Manoj recalls.

It was in Lindan that Manoj met Kroto, who won the Chemistry Nobel for his work on nano devices. The two spoke for an hour-and-a-half and Kroto was quick to spot a career in research in the making. On his advice, Manoj applied for a PhD at Florida University and the rest is history.

"My idol Harold Kroto will be my guide and my research topic is nano devices, the latest sensation in scientific circles these days," Manoj says of his future. "I want to ensure my creations are for the service of humanity and not for destructive purposes," he adds.

Manoj is the only Indian selected for a doctorate degree in Florida this year and will leave for the US in August-September. He has been offered a monthly scholarship of $16,000.

There couldn't be a prouder man in Heeran than Manoj's father Ram Pal, who runs a small shop.

"My son has always been diligent and excellent in studies," he says as his wife Sunita Devi speaks about one day seeing her son become a big scientist.