Shoolini Star Wins MEXT Scholarship for PhD in Japan

Vanshika Abbhi, a proud alumna of Shoolini University and part of the first batch of B Tech Biotech Summit Research Program (SRP), has been accepted into a PhD program at Nagoya University in Japan. Originally from Faridabad, Haryana, Vanshika secured the MEXT scholarship for her master’s studies and then earned an extension as a MEXT fellow to continue her PhD in Japan.

With a passion for agriculture and research, Vanshika arrived at Shoolini University seeking a platform to explore her interests. Drawn to its research-focused approach, she found her calling through the exclusive SRP. Under the mentorship of Dean Research Prof Saurabh Kulshreshtha, Vanshika explored the intriguing world of mycoviruses, also known as fungal viruses. This topic ignited her curiosity, sparking a desire to dive deeper into its complexities.

Mycoviruses are known for lessening the harmful effects of fungi that damage crops. They offer an eco-friendly alternative to chemical pesticides, particularly fungicides commonly used in agriculture.

It was her mother, a botanist, who nurtured Vanshika’s interest in agriculture. She grew up learning about plants and agriculture from her. As time passed, her curiosity led her to explore biotechnology and the world of research. Being an SRP student at Shoolini, she was admitted to the Molecular Plant Microbe Interaction (MPMI) laboratory. There, she began studying mycoviruses, gaining hands-on experience and a deep understanding of these fungal viruses.

Her interest in mycoviruses led her to Japan. Recognising the expertise of Prof Sotaro Chiba at Nagoya University in this field, she wanted to continue her studies under his guidance. Before applying for the prestigious MEXT scholarship, Vanshika took the initiative to connect with Prof Chiba. Impressed by the scholar’s passion and dedication, Prof Chiba agreed to accept her as a master’s student on the condition that she secured the MEXT fellowship.

The MEXT scholarship process spans a year and involves four rigorous rounds, including document submission, research proposals, interviews, and approval from chosen professors. With over 1000 applicants annually, only a handful progress to the final round. Vanshika emphasises the importance of early contact with professors. Securing Prof Chiba’s acceptance early on was crucial for her success. She highlights the risk of losing the opportunity if a chosen professor denies acceptance in the final round.

Her research topic during her master’s was ‘Biological Mechanism of Mycoviruses in Reducing the Pathogenicity of Fusarium boothii’. She focused on this topic because it aligned with promoting sustainable agriculture. Vanshika pointed out, “Nowadays, our plates are full of harmful chemical pesticides. By studying mycoviruses, I want to contribute to food security in a sustainable manner.”

After excelling in her master’s program, Vanshika applied for a PhD extension through the MEXT program. She found the application process straightforward. The Shoolini star presented her research proposal to the university commission and then cleared the interview with the committee and embassy members. As a result, she successfully secured the MEXT extension and was accepted for a PhD program.  

During an interview with Shoolini IMPACT, Vanshika expressed gratitude for the Summit Research Program at Shoolini. Thanks to SRP, she conducted research at the undergraduate level itself. This early start gave her time to understand the value of research and get hands-on training. Vanshika also thanked her mentor, Prof Saurabh Kulshreshtha, for guiding her through research and the application process. “Without SRP and Saurabh Sir’s guidance, I would not have been able to achieve this.” 

During a discussion about her PhD and research goals, this Shoolini star said she did not want to limit herself to just one topic. “I want to study agritech and agroeconomics. Agriculture has become more advanced with the integration of AI. I am eager to gain practical experience by interning in an agriculture company while pursuing my PhD,” she added.  

What’s her success mantra for aspiring students? Cultivate a passion for research and a determination to solve problems while studying abroad. She emphasised the importance of seeking guidance from professors and mentors, as the application process can be complicated. 

Vanshika’s selection is an exciting start to an inspiring journey filled with learning and new things. This reflects the success of Shoolini’s SRP program, which breaks the norm by allowing students to conduct high-impact research and file patents from the first year of the undergraduate course.   

Shoolini University stands by Vanshika and eagerly looks forward to her outstanding achievements!

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Yashi Sharma
Yashi Sharma
Yashi Sharma is a skilled and passionate content writer. She creates impactful and informative blogs/write-ups for Shoolini’s website, compelling offsite blogs and news articles for Shoolini Impact. She is a postgrad in Biotechnology.

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