vidya ann jacob

“It’s important to stay committed to your goals and to keep learning and growing as a researcher.”

Dr Vidya Ann Jacob is an Assistant Professor at Christ University School of Law, Bengaluru. She was awarded the Fulbright-Kalam Climate Doctoral Fellowship during the period 2019-2020 at Lewis and Clark Law School, Portland, Oregon

1. Before we start ma’am, could you please give our readers a quick introduction of who you are and what inspired you to seek a career in research?

Dr Vidya Ann Jacob is an Assistant Professor at Christ University School of Law, Bengaluru. She was awarded the Fulbright-Kalam Climate Doctoral Fellowship during the period 2019-2020 at Lewis and Clark Law School, Portland, Oregon. Her research focused on how the USA has adopted different climate resilience mechanisms to address climate challenges. Her participation in the Fulbright-Kalam fellowship helped her to design and introduce an elective course on “Climate Change Law and Policy” for students at Christ University. At present, very few universities in India offer a course in this area for students.

Over the years, Dr Jacob has become renowned for her innovative research projects, many of which have been funded by esteemed institutions such as the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and the Government of India. Through her tireless efforts, she has expanded the boundaries of legal knowledge and helped to shape the future of the field. She is also on the Board of Advisors for Niti Manthan.

2. What was your specialisation in LLM and how did you decide on choosing the same?

For many aspiring law students, the decision of which area to specialise in can be a difficult one. However, the choice was clear for Dr Vidya Ann Jacob as she knew from the outset that she wanted to pursue a career in corporate law.

When we asked Dr Jacob about her specialisation in LLM, she explained that she had chosen to focus on corporate and commercial law. This decision was not a difficult one, as she had always been fascinated by the intricate workings of the corporate world and the legal systems that governed it.

3. Any specific instance that enforced your decision to become a professor in either your undergraduate or masters?

Dr Jacob shared with us that it was during her final year of postgraduate studies that she was introduced to teaching practice, which involved interacting with students and answering their queries. She found this experience to be incredibly rewarding and was struck by the enthusiasm and passion that her students had for the subject-matter.

“It was during this time that I realised that teaching was a career that would allow me to not only pursue my own research interests but also to inspire and guide the next generation of legal scholars,” she explained.

This realisation was reinforced during her master’s studies, where she had the opportunity to teach as a teaching assistant. The experience of guiding students and helping them to develop their own research interests and analytical skills only further solidified her decision to pursue a career in academia.

4. Ma’am, you are a Fulbright-Kalam Climate Fellow, can you elaborate to our readers on the process for applying to the Fulbright-Kalam Climate Fellowships for Doctoral Research? The do’s and don’ts, if possible.

Dr Jacob shared with us that the application process for the Fulbright-Kalam Climate Fellowships for Doctoral Research can be challenging, and requires a significant amount of preparation and attention to detail.

“Candidates need to ensure that the purpose of taking this fellowship is clear,” she explained. “The aim and objective of their research should align with their doctoral work, and they should be able to demonstrate how the fellowship will enhance their research and academic goals.”

In addition, Dr Jacob advised candidates not to wait until the last date to submit their application, as this can be overwhelming and increase the risk of errors. Instead, she suggested reaching out to referees well in advance to ensure that they have enough time to complete their recommendations.

“Your referees are an important part of your application, so it is important to give them enough time to write a strong letter of recommendation,” she said. Dr Jacob also emphasised the importance of being familiar with the terms and conditions of the fellowship and being prepared to comply with them.

5. Any learnings you would like to share for prospective applicants?

Dr Jacob emphasised the importance of being clear and specific about how the research conducted in the United States will contribute to the applicant’s overall research goals and objectives.

“It is important to explicitly mention how the research in the United States is going to help in your research and how you would be able to contribute to the knowledge and experience once you return,” she explained.

She also advised prospective applicants to do their research and be familiar with the research interests and expertise of potential host institutions and mentors. This will help them to identify the most appropriate research opportunity and ensure that their research aligns with the research goals and objectives of the host institution.

Dr Jacob also stressed the importance of preparing a strong and compelling application that clearly articulates the applicant’s research interests, achievements, and potential.

“Your application is your opportunity to make a strong case for yourself and to convince the Selection Committee that you are the best candidate for the fellowship,” she said.

6. Ma’am, how did you find and filter the various scholarships?

Dr Jacob explained that she narrowed down the scholarships available to her based on the objective and scope of her research. She noted that it was important to identify scholarships that aligned with her research interests and objectives.

“I did a lot of research and looked for scholarships that were relevant to my research area,” she said. “I also consulted with my mentors and colleagues to get their advice on the best scholarships to apply for.”

She added that it was important to carefully read the eligibility criteria and requirements for each scholarship to ensure that she met the necessary qualifications and to prepare a strong and compelling application.

“As with any scholarship, it is important to carefully read the eligibility criteria and requirements to ensure that you meet the qualifications,” she said. “And then you need to prepare a strong and compelling application that clearly articulates your research goals, achievements, and potential.”

7. What have been some of the most significant challenges you have faced in your research, in India and abroad and how did you overcome them?

Dr Jacob noted that one of the most significant challenges she faced was the difference in laws between India and the United States. “Interpreting the same laws in two different contexts can be challenging,” she explained. “But with the help of my guide and mentors, who were patient with me through the whole process, I was able to overcome it.”

She added that another challenge was the complexity of the research process itself. “Research can be a very long and tedious process,” she said. “It requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and patience.”

Dr Jacob emphasised the importance of having a supportive network of mentors and colleagues who can offer guidance and support throughout the research process. She also highlighted the value of persistence and a willingness to learn and adapt in the face of challenges.

“Research can be challenging, but it is also incredibly rewarding,” she said. “It is important to stay committed to your goals and to keep learning and growing as a researcher.”

8. How is research different in the US as compared to India in the field of law?

Dr Jacob pointed out that one of the main differences is the context in which the laws are framed. “As the economic, social and geographical aspects are different, the laws are framed to address different needs when compared to India,” she explained.

She added that the research process itself can also be different in the two countries, with different approaches to data collection, analysis, and interpretation.

Dr Jacob noted that despite these differences, there is also much that researchers in both countries can learn from each other. “There are many valuable insights and perspectives that can be gained through cross-cultural research collaborations,” she said. “By working together, researchers can develop a deeper understanding of the complex issues that impact our societies and contribute to the development of more effective policies and solutions.”

9. Based on your experience, is it preferable to go for an LLM straight after one’s graduation or is having work experience more advantageous?

Dr Jacob emphasised that this is a subjective decision that should be based on an individual’s unique goals and circumstances. She explained that there are benefits to both paths, and the decision should be made with careful consideration of personal and professional goals.

“For some, going straight into an LLM program after graduation may be the best option to gain specialised knowledge and skills,” she said. “Others may benefit from gaining work experience first, to gain practical skills and knowledge that can help their further education and research.”

Dr Jacob added that regardless of the path chosen, it is important to approach education and work with a commitment to lifelong learning and continued growth. “In today’s rapidly changing world, it is important to remain adaptable and flexible in our approach to education and work,” she said. “By continuing to learn and develop our skills, we can stay competitive and make meaningful contributions to our fields.“

Dr Jacob’s insights underscore the importance of taking a personalised approach to education and career development and committing to ongoing learning and growth.

10. What are your views on the NEP and do you think it will help improve the standard of research in our country?

Dr Jacob shared that she believes the National Education Policy (NEP) is a positive step towards improving the overall standard of education and research in India. “The NEP is a great initiative to bring holistic development in education,” she said. “It will enhance research-based study and establish world class institutions in India, making it a future hub for global learning.”

Dr Jacob also highlighted some of the specific elements of the NEP that she believes will be particularly beneficial for research in India. “The emphasis on multidisciplinary education and research, as well as the increased focus on industry-academia collaborations and international partnerships, will create a conducive environment for high quality research in India,” she said.

11. What advice would you give our readers who are looking for a career in research or teaching?

Dr Jacob emphasised the importance of having a passion for the subject-matter and a drive to make a difference in the field. “If you have the passion and urge to make a change in legal knowledge, then you should invest time in research and moulding budding lawyers,” she said.

She also stressed the importance of being persistent and dedicated in pursuing a career in research or teaching. “It requires patience and persistence to make a mark in this field. You should be willing to put in the hard work and continue learning and growing throughout your career,” she added.

Finally, Dr Jacob encouraged aspiring researchers and teachers to be open to new ideas and perspectives, and to stay up to date with the latest developments in their field. “It is essential to keep up with the current trends, adapt and embrace the changes,” she said. “Only then can you make a meaningful contribution to your field and inspire others to do the same.”

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