Monday, February 6, 2023
Manisha Skaria
Manisha Skaria

Manisha Skaria, a chemist by trade and originally from India, came to the University of Iowa (UI) in 2021 when she accepted a postdoctoral scholar position in Daly Research Group in the UI Department of Chemistry.  

“I wanted to expand my research scope and luckily came across the opportunity in Professor Scott R. Daly’s lab. The work was in alignment with what I had been doing, yet it was different and more innovative in terms of catalysis chemistry,” said Skaria. “Professor Daly’s web page was impressive with a diverse platter of research topics and pulled me to join his lab. I felt that his lab would provide me with a platform to conduct effective research independently and collaboratively. I am so proud of my decision to be associated with such a wonderful group. All my new ideas were always welcomed which gave me the confidence to constantly think in the most productive and economical manner.” 

Prior to coming to Iowa, Skaria completed a master’s degree in organic chemistry and worked in a couple of positions in that field; she then moved to Taiwan with her husband and their infant daughter to pursue their doctoral studies and postdoctoral training at the National Tsing Hua University.  Because of these experiences, Skaria wanted to advocate for the needs and concerns of international students and scholars at the UI. In 2022, she joined the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB) in a leadership position.  

“I serve as graduate communication director for ISAB and have shared my experiences as an international student with a baby in Taiwan and a postdoc with two kids of two different age groups in the U.S. I felt that sharing my experiences and how I found answers to my concerns would help students or postdocs with family to adjust here. When you know that someone is there to reach out for any kind of problem you gain the confidence to handle each day as it comes. I envisage ISAB being the to-go organization for international students and scholars,” added Skaria.  

“New place and new journey come as a big ball of anxiety, and it tarnishes the excitement of exploring things differently. Most of the time the answers are simple but the path to find correct answers makes things seem difficult. I wanted to become the communication channel for newcomers at the UI. My experience so far has been amazing both at the UI and in ISAB. I realized that dealing with one problem at a time is the key.” 

In addition to her full-time position and involvement in ISAB, Skaria and her family enjoy attending a variety of family-friendly events on campus, including STEM programs for children, a Halloween haunted house in the IMU, departmental picnics, and get-togethers organized by the UI Postdoctoral Association. 

For other international students and scholars on campus, Skaria has the following tips:  

  1. Check the International Student and Scholar Services website for information 

  2. Seek out a support system of domestic students and faculty members 

  3. Grow both professionally and personally at the UI, which provides a variety of resources and the best academic experience 

  4. Grab all the opportunities that come your way, and participate as much as possible 

  5. Speak up whenever you need help - there are many student organizations that are ready to go the extra mile to help others, you just need to knock at the door 

Speaking of her future career plans and goals, Skaria aspires to become a professor in chemistry and collaborate with industry, to have a lab of her own with a handful of students who share the same ambition and passion as her. 

“Apart from achieving professional goals, my signature contribution to society should be motivating a bunch of women never to give up careers at any point. At the UI, I met several wonderful women in power who are balancing their careers with family and children.” 


International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement.  IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.