Mentoring Matters with Dooshaye Moonshiram

mauritius islandDooshaye Moonshiram (XSD) was born and raised on the small, picturesque island of Mauritius, lost in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

She arrived in the Unites States at 18 on an Engineering Fellowship to study Engineering and Physics at Smith College in Massachusetts. While pursuing her undergraduate degree she met several influential professors who encouraged her to pursue advanced studies. Through her professor’s mentoring and encouragement she went on to Purdue University to complete her masters of science in Electrical Engineering.

“My mentors inspired me to pursue a career in academia in-spite of being a traditionally under-represented demographic from the island of Mauritius,” says Moonshiram.

While performing her graduate research she had the opportunity to visit Argonne as a user of the Advanced Photon Source (APS). “I was a user at the APS for four years studying the electronic and structural configurations of Ruthenium catalysts for artificial photosynthesis,” says Moonshiram. It was during this time that she decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering and became interested in beamline research.

Moonshiram completed her Ph.D. at Purdue and started her postdoctoral research at Argonne in August 2013. She was excited to work in the Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics Group in the X-Ray Science Division (XSD) and gain additional experience on the beamlines. “My research is to understand the electronic, energetic and geometric requirements of water oxidation,” says Moonshiram. Her work seeks new designs for economical and efficient catalysts using time-resolved X-ray absorption and emission spectroscopy. Moonshiram has found the APS and XSD Division to be a warm, welcoming atmosphere conductive to collaboration and research. She was grateful to meet with the Postdoctoral Society of Argonne (PSA) during her orientation. She was encouraged to attend meetings and decided to become a board member.

“I am currently the social chair of the PSA and help to organize social events among all postdoctoral fellows,” says Moonshiram. Through this position, she has been able to expand her network of colleagues at Argonne and learned about the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) meeting. At the meeting she decided to present a poster based on the mentoring program at Argonne.

“The mentoring program is a great opportunity for postdoctoral students to have a full-time mentor other than their supervisor,” says Moonshiram. At the NPA meeting she discussed the challenge many postdocs face transitioning from an academic environment to a national laboratory and then moving into industry.

“Many fellows from Stanford, MIT and Boston University approached our poster and had pertinent questions about how a postdoctoral fellow could have an official mentor other than their supervisor,” says Moonshiram.

She has found having a mentor to be a significant asset. Her mentor has motivated her to learn and discover more at the APS beamlines. This has improved her experiments, methods and techniques. She also has gained the confidence and skill to serve as the Principal Investigator on many of her research projects. Moonshiram is happy she chose Argonne for her postdoctoral research.

“Argonne has tremendous resources and networks that a prestigious university might not have,” notes Moonshiram, “For new postdocs like myself, I encourage them to take full advantage of the postdoctoral program at Argonne and embrace networking opportunities in a wide range of interdisciplinary fields.”

dooshaye moonshiramDooshaye Moonshiram (XSD) received her Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering and her Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering both from Purdue University. She has published eight papers in scholarly journals and is a chair on the board of the Postdoctoral Society of Argonne.

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