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Volume 3 • Issue 2 Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2
Sudhi Oberoi is a Project Trainee at the Archives and
Vrushal Pendharkar is a freelance science writer
Publications Cell Debadrita Paria is a PhD student at the Centre for Nano
Subhayan Sahu is an undergraduate student
Science and Engineering Megha Prakash is a Consultant Editor at the Archives
Taru Verma is a PhD student in the Department of
and Publications Cell Nithyanand Rao is a Consultant Editor at the Archives
Syama Sreedharan is a PhD student in the Department of
and Publications Cell Karthik Ramaswamy is the Editor, CONNECT, at the
Ellen Brock is a consultant in data analytics
Archives and Publications Cell Cressida Hamlet is a Master's student at the Department
Manbeena Chawla is a Research Associate at the Centre
of Computer Science and Automation for Infectious Disease Research Prateeksha Varshney is a Master's student at the
Science Media Center is a joint initiative of IISc and
Department of Computational and Data Sciences Saleem Ahmed is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre
Manu Rajan is a Technical Officer at the Archives and
for Product Design and Manufacturing Publications Cell Aditi Jayaram is a Project Assistant at the Centre for
Ranjini Raghunath is a Development Officer at the
Ecological Sciences Office of Development and Alumni affairs Anupam Purwar is a Visiting Scientist at the Materials
Navin S is a Master's student in the Department of
Electrical Engineering Front Cover:
Back Inside Cover:
Cover: Foliage (IISc
Photography Club) CONNECT TEAM
Karthik Ramaswamy (Editor, CONNECT, Archives and Publications Cell)
Megha Prakash (Consultant Editor, Archives and Publications Cell)
Nithyanand Rao (Consultant Editor, Archives and Publications Cell)
Sudhi Oberoi (Project Trainee, Archives and Publications Cell)
Manu Rajan (Technical Officer, Archives and Publications Cell)
TA Abinandanan (Chairperson, Archives and Publications Cell & Department of Materials Engineering)
Photography: IISc Photography Club (unless otherwise mentioned)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 91-080-2293 2066 Address: Archives and Publications Cell Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2
fROM ThE CONNECT TEAM
Until the advent of vinyl in the 1950s, gramophone records were made from shellac—the processed form of lac—a resinous substance produced by a group of sap-sucking insects. In India, lac has been harvested for centuries, but its economic importance surged in the early 20th century when its versatility became evident to British industry. Soon lac was a sought-after raw material. And like many other raw materials that powered Britain's industrial might, this too had to be sourced from its colonies, particularly India, the principal producer of lac in the world. Realizing the importance of lac research, the British government tapped into the existing expertise in chemistry in the Indian Institute of Science ('IISc' or 'Institute' from here on) to study lac and its products. And new researchers, including biologists, were hired to investigate this prized commodity. The story of lac research in IISc has been pieced together by Megha Prakash and Manu Rajan in this issue.
Also in this issue, Nithyanand Rao throws light on the Department of Mathematics at IISc. Conventionally, mathematics has been divided into pure and applied mathematics. They even have their own scholarly societies. However, this distinction is often superficial. Many fields of pure mathematics had their origins in solving practical problems. And pure mathematics keeps finding new applications. For instance, number theory ("Thank God that number theory is unsullied by any application," the American mathematician, Leonard Eugene Dickson, is supposed to have said) is today integral to cryptography and encryption. When it was established in 1956, the Department of Mathematics at IISc was called the Department of Applied Mathematics. But over the years, it has freed itself from the shackles of having to do research mainly to support science and engineering studies in the Institute. As its current Chair, Gadadhar Misra, says, "…we live happily without having any biases about what sort of mathematics should be done." In March this year, IISc celebrated its Open Day. We have a report from the ground by Sudhi Oberoi, who tells us about the activities that were on display at this year's event, fast becoming the Institute's most important outreach initiative. She also informs us about what goes into planning for an event of this magnitude. This issue has much more for the reader to reflect on, including insights into journalism, provided by veteran broadcaster, Mark Tully, in an interview with Nithyanand Rao and Karthik Ramaswamy. Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 In This Issue.
12 n Visitors
Guests of the Institute open up DISPATChES fROM ThE
Meet researchers who are SCIENCE fOR ALL
Reaching out to society fULfILLING ThE PROMISE
28 @ In focus
Undergraduate students leave the nest to start new lives DEPARTMENT Of
hOT Off ThE PRESS
BRIDGING ThE SCIENCES
Top science stories from IISc Connecting disciplines with a Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 36 J Events
News from various events on A rendezvous with new researchers at the Institute AND ThE AWARD GOES
Institute denizens who won recognition for their research IN ThE NEWS
WAXING AND WANING
Of LAC RESEARCh
News related to IISc Lectures
History of research into a LOOK WhO'S TALKING
Faculty colloquiua Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 IISc's annual outreach event—Open Day—showcases cutting edge research in the Institute
and educates visitors about fundamental concepts in science and engineering
Using an optical illusion to demonstrate how the brain perceives the size of an object
"I love mathematics," an excited Anamika Dubey teachers, parents, science enthusiasts, media declares as she attempts to solve a puzzle in a personnel and more. They participated in classroom in the Department of Mathematics scientific demonstrations, talks, seminars, at IISc. The fourth standard student from movie screenings, discussions, and other Kendriya Vidyalaya – AFS Yelahanka, who wants activities organized as part of the event. The to become a police officer when she grows up, many food joints that were specially set up was on campus with her father on the occasion on the occasion were an added attraction. of IISc's annual Open Day on 5 March this year.
According to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of IISc, N Krishnamurthy, around 20,000 people Anamika was one of the thousands of visitors visited the Institute on Open Day this year, a who thronged the campus on this day, along jump of more than 50 percent compared to with other school and college students, Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Open Day is organized to showcase research in the Institute and communicate important The task of organizing this event rests on the concepts in science and engineering to the broad shoulders of an Open Day Committee, general public. Its origins can be traced to a report comprising all the Divisional Chairs, the PRO of a Review Committee headed by JC Ghosh, and Chairpersons of all the departments.
a former Director of IISc. The report, tabled in 1956, suggested that "the Institute should The planning starts as early as January every have an open week before the annual meeting year when the date for the event is decided. of the Court, during which the Institute may be The Committee then requests the various visited, both by members of the Court and the departments to put together a list of activities general public." The suggestion found support that they would like to showcase and provide from JRD Tata, then President of the Court it with an estimate of the cost of each activity. It also asks the departments to identify volunteers for manning the help desks to be set up around the campus. Based on this input, the Committee finalizes the activities and allocates the required funds.
Even as the activities are put together, the Committee focuses on advertising Open Day to the public, particularly in schools and colleges. It also works towards ensuring adequate security for the event.
Thousands of school children thronged IISc
"It is always challenging to organize a big event Open Day is organized to showcase research
like the Open Day," says Krishnamurthy. "But we in the Institute and communicate important
now follow a set protocol which makes it easier. concepts in science and engineering to the
We also have efficient staff who help prepare for it," he adds. Based on the suggession, the first Annual Week was organized in March 1957. In the years that followed, Open Days were spread over two or three days. However, this practice was discontinued and an Open Day was organized intermittently. More recently, it has become a regular feature in the Institute's calendar. The day-long science carnival is held on (or close to) 3 March, the birth anniversary of JN Tata, the founder of the Institute. One of the many help desks that were set up around the campus
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 "It is always challenging to organise a big
event like the Open Day"
As in previous years, this year's Open Day
too sought to mix fun and science in equal
measure. Some took the hands-on approach
to a new level: visitors themselves became
subjects in experiments. For instance, this
approach was used in the ‘Incredible Shrink
Machine', an experiment designed by students
from the Centre for Neuroscience, one which
used an optical illusion (see photograph on
Page 4) to explain how the brain perceives the
size of an object.
Aeroshow, one of the more popular events
experiences that people could relate to. Vignesh AN, a Master's student who helped design a few of these puzzles, claims that some of the solutions surprised even mathematicians. "It is amazing to see some people design unconventional techniques to solve a puzzle," he tells CONNECT. The prizes for the winners included books related to mathematics and famous mathematicians.
Though there are new activities every year, some like the Aeroshow, organized by the Department of Aerospace Engineering, have proven to be so popular that they have become Solving a puzzle
regular features on Open Day. Aero enthusiasts Other departments, such as Mathematics, from different flying clubs were also invited came up with their own ways to engage to showcase their models. Among them was visitors. Besides a treasure hunt, it also had a Sandeep, a school student, who made his collection of puzzles. These puzzles, of varying own plane from scratch. "It feels awesome to levels of complexity, were based on real-life demonstrate my model here," Sandeep says. Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 would like to make this a regular feature here at IISc. It is a great place to find people with lot of energy and talent." The driving force behind Open Day's diverse activities is the student community. It is the students who decide on the learning goals, plan and design the exhibits, and communicate the underlying science to visitors. S Amitash, a PhD student from the Department of Biochemistry, explained to CONNECT why he enjoyed the experience. "It helps me evolve as a researcher. The main essence of science is to communicate what we are doing in the lab. Otherwise there's no use [of doing science]", he asserts. He and his lab-mates showcased a model that depicts DNA replication; he also explained to visitors the repair mechanisms found in animal cells Painting workshop
But Open Day at IISc is not all about science. to fix errors that sometimes arise during the One such pleasant diversion from science replication process. was a stall set up by a non-governmental organization SEVITA, on invitation from the "It helps me evolve as a researcher"
Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing. For their part, visitors have the opportunity to SEVITA organized a painting workshop to see science in action, learn scientific concepts, make visitors aware of India's traditional art and appreciate the diversity of research pursued forms, many of which are dying. Elated on in IISc. The experience also motivates many being invited to conduct the workshop, Devaki youngsters to consider a career in science and Rao, the founder trustee of the NGO says, "We engineering. And for some, it provides greater clarity on what they want to do with their lives. For instance, Martin Jose, a class IX student from St Joseph's Boys High School, was certain that he would become a doctor before he came to Open Day, but not what he would specialize in. He now aspires to become a neurologist after watching a live demonstration of brain activity using EEG (Electroencephalogram) at the Centre for Neuroscience.
Demonstrating DNA replication and repair
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Another consequence of the large crowds on Ironically, the success of Open Day has led to Open Day is significant increase in the number some new logistical challenges in recent years. of motorized vehicles in the campus. This year One such issue the Institute has been grappling even saw the odd traffic jam, an unprecedented with is the management and disposal of sight in IISc. Though a shuttle bus service was waste produced due to the large number of arranged to ferry visitors, it was not sufficient, people who visit the campus on this day. The according to Jayaram. He, however, believes responsibility of dealing with this problem that the traffic situation will improve next year was shouldered by members of IISc Family when the Committee plans to set up parking and Friends and Solid Waste Management lots at the various entrances and arrange more Initiative of IISc (SWaMII) this year. Colour frequent shuttles within campus. coded bins were placed all over the campus to facilitate waste segregation. Volunteers at the With an increase in the number of departments help desks guided visitors on proper disposal and a consequential upsurge in the number of of trash. Food vendors were encouraged to activities on Open Day, visitors find it difficult use recyclable materials. "We know Bangalore to cover all of them on a single day. "I went has a huge waste disposal problem and want crazy in the Biological Sciences building. It had to contribute our bit to mitigate it. We are very so many exciting displays. But I was not able happy to see that it has worked," says Kavitha to go through all of them as there were very Harish, a member of IFF. "A good job was done long queues and I was afraid that I might miss to segregate waste and we should keep up this the Aeroshow!" exclaims Anant Caprihan, a discipline at all times," adds Vikram Jayaram, the class V student. Caprihan's views are shared by Chair of the Open Day Committee and also the many others, including Vinay Dubey, Anamika's Chair of the Division of Mechanical Sciences.
father, who suggests that the Institute should consider throwing open its gates to visitors for "We know Bangalore has a huge waste
an entire week instead.
disposal problem and want to contribute our
bit to mitigate it"
(The author acknowledges the help of the following: Sowmithri Ranganathan and Manu Rajan for sourcing and researching archival material, and Karthik Ramaswamy and Nithyanand Rao for reporting on some of the Open Day activities) Increasing traffic has become a challenge
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 FULFILLING THE PROMISE As they depart from the nest that has nurtured them for the last four years, CONNECT takes a closer look at
where students from the second batch of the BSc (Research) course are headed
Come September, Suhas Mahesh, currently had focused exclusively on postgraduate a senior undergraduate (UG) student in IISc, will be joining Oxford University for his PhD in condensed matter physics, with the Focus on Research
prestigious Rhodes Scholarship under his belt. Not surprizingly, a majority of the students Only the third Rhodes Scholar in the Institute's graduating this year intend to pursue a career 107-year-old history, Suhas, who will graduate in research. "Like most of my batch mates, I later this summer, is part of the second batch of joined IISc with an interest in research [and] IISc's four-year Bachelor of Science (Research) the biggest benefit of being a UG student at programme which started in 2011. Until IISc is the postgraduate nature of the Institute," then, IISc, India's premier research institution, says Suhas. Balaji Jagirdar, Professor, Inorganic Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 and Physical Chemistry, and one of the two by itself [and] having both biological and Associate Deans of the UG Programme, concurs mathematical training is useful for doing this with this view. "Students joining this Institute experience all the research activities that go on here and the path for the students to go into a Climbing the Research Ladder
career in research is well laid out," he adds. De and Gumani along with many other fourth year students have already bagged offers from The course work emphasizes hands-on some of the best universities in the world, research in world-class laboratories, ensuring including Caltech, MIT, Harvard, Cornell, Yale, that these young minds appreciate the rigors Berkeley, Princeton, University College London, and joys of doing science. Experiments in Max Planck Institutes and Oxford. Though laboratories compliment lectures taught by going abroad to pursue graduate studies is a faculty members who are among the best popular option, a few students are considering researchers in their respective fields. At the end doing their PhDs in India. In the past, most of their first year, students major in any one of Indian universities required a Master's degree the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, for admission into a PhD programme. "However Environmental Science, Materials, Mathematics that situation is changing," clarifies PS Anil or Physics. In their final semester, students also Kumar, also an Associate Dean and Associate do a research project with one of the several Professor, Department of Physics. He adds that faculty members of the Institute. This emphasis opportunities for research for UG students, on research cannot be overstated, feels Kishalay both within and outside India, will increase in De, a fourth year Physics major, who is going to the near future. He says, "More universities are Caltech for a PhD in astrophysics. taking note of the UG programme in IISc, and hence the placement scenario is only going to improve with time." As part of their curriculum, students are also expected to take courses in engineering and "More universities are taking note of the UG
the humanities. The engineering courses allow programme in IISc, and hence the placement
them to explore the real-life applications of the scenario is only going to improve with time"
basic sciences, while the humanities courses Staying Home for Another Year
give them an opportunity to understand the social context in which science is done. The But not all students who wish to pursue interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum research are leaving the Institute. At least not has been recognized and appreciated by the yet. After four years of study, IISc's UG students students. Harsha Gumani, a graduating Biology have the option of staying back for a fifth major, who has received the sought-after year to earn a Master's degree at the Institute Wellcome Trust Fellowship for her graduate itself, an option that a number of graduating studies, says, "My chosen area of research is students are planning to exercise. According to neuroscience, a field which is interdisciplinary Anil Kumar, this gives students an opportunity to investigate their final year research project Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 more deeply and also to explore other avenues Many of the top rankers in these entrance that may lie ahead of them. The precedent to exams have also received offers for PhD and continue at IISc for another year was set by the Master's programmes in foreign schools.
batch of 2011, when 47 out of the 83 enrolled students opted to get a Master's degree at IISc. Exploring Other Options
For instance, Pranav Mundada, decided, in his Though the UG programme is designed to help final semester, that he wanted to work in a young students become researchers, it also new field, and therefore stayed back. This year, provides students with the skills required to go he will be going to Princeton University for a into the private sector. For instance, Abhinav PhD to "try to make a fault tolerant quantum Jain, who graduated last year, is a financial analyst in Ernst and Young. He believes that though taking up a job immediately after graduation is not yet a popular choice, there At least three of them from this cohort of are ample opportunities in the corporate world graduating students are planning to study for IISc's UG students. This year saw Fortune economics in graduate school, a subject 500 companies like Goldman Sachs, Capital that they did not major in. Sabareesh One and Walmart coming to IISc, specifically Ramachandran, a Mathematics major, is one looking to recruit UG students. One such recruit of them. He is headed to the London School of is Sameer Shah, a fifth year student majoring in Economics for a Master's in Economics, armed Mathematics, who was hired by Walmart as a with a Commonwealth Fellowship. "I intend to work in public policy or developmental economics. I think the [Humanities] course Environment of Excellence
on governance made me look at this career As the programme gets older by a year, UG option more seriously. I find in economics a students at IISc, enriched by its environment nice avenue to work on pertinent social issues of excellence in research and pedagogy, have while also using the analytical abilities that we more than just lived up to the faith imposed on developed in our maths courses," he says. them by the Institute. Their stories of success are testament to the quality of education they Acing Entrance Exams
have received. Suhas, who is also a connoisseur Another indicator of the quality of the UG of classical languages, ends with an old Sanskrit programme is how well IISc's students have been doing in the national-level entrance santah sadābhigantavyā yadi nopadiśantyapi exams for graduate programmes. This year, yāstu svairakathāstesām upadeśā bhavanti tāh Tapan Goel, a Physics major, has stood first in CSIR NET Physics; Ullas Chembazhi, majoring "Keep the company of the wise, even if they aren't in Biology, has got the first rank in GATE teaching lessons.
Biotechnology and Nidhin Kurian, a Materials For whatever they tell in passing, they turn out to major, has topped the GATE Materials exam. Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 In conversation with guests of the Institute
MARESI NERAD: EQUIPPING YOUNG RESEARCHERS WITH PROFESSIONAL SKILLS MEGHA PRAKASH
skills, the role of mentorship and other issues concerning higher education. Q Tell us about CIRGE and its activities.
The Centre, set up in 2002, focuses on doctoral education with three emphases: PhD career path studies, international research synthesis workshops, and evaluations (formative and summative) of theme-based, interdisciplinary, flagship doctoral programmes in the US and Europe. So far, CIRGE has undertaken three National PhD Career Path Studies. The studies surveyed PhD recipients five to ten years after they completed their doctorates. These surveys Maresi Nerad is a professor of higher education inquired about the retrospective assessment and the founding Director of the Center for of their doctoral studies, the career paths from Innovation and Research in Graduate Education the time they completed their degrees to the (CIRGE) at the University of Washington in time of survey completion, as well as on their Seattle, USA. In January 2016, Nerad spent a satisfaction with their current employment. In month as a Visiting Professor at the DST Centre order to understand better the reasons behind for Policy Research in IISc. During her visit, she career decisions of the surveyed men and conducted a workshop for graduate students. women PhDs, these surveys tracked not only She also gave a lecture on ‘Issues in Doctoral the career path, but also the ‘family path', that Education and Innovation Policies: Looking is the career of the spouse, the birth and age of Beyond One's National Horizon' at the Centre for children, and the need to take care of parents. Contemporary Studies. After the workshop, she spoke to CONNECT about CIRGE's activities, An interesting result that emerged from these the need to equip researchers with professional surveys was that a majority (two-thirds) of Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 women in the United States with a PhD had a Quality of Doctoral Education (2014). And a partner who also had a PhD, or a medical or law third book on Intellectual Risk-taking in Doctoral degree. But only about a quarter of the men Education, is in progress. These workshops also had a partner who had invested in education help us understand the issues and challenges as much as they had. in doctoral education within different national higher education systems.
Further analyses of the survey data addressed questions such as the importance of acquiring The third focus of CIRGE activities supports the competencies in professional skills, teaching, process of innovative doctoral programmes time management, grant writing, working while they unfold and provides ‘in time' effectively in interdisciplinary teams, knowing feedback to the faculty who run these special how to manage budgets and people. In short, it sought to understand professional competencies beyond the knowledge of the Q You conducted a workshop for doctoral
subject and research methodologies. We students here at IISc as well. Can you tell us
found that doctoral students who had done more about these workshops? How do the
workshops that addressed these issues took participants benefit from them?
a shorter time to graduate. Our studies also The goals of these doctoral student workshops inquired whether working as a postdoctoral are to make the students aware that today an fellow in a more reputed laboratory upped independent researcher needs to have more one's career prospects.
competencies than the traditional academic skills, to better comprehend the student- "We found that doctoral students who had
advisor relationship and to learn to present done workshops that addressed these issues
one's dissertation in a limited time (say in 5 took a shorter time to graduate"
minutes) to people outside one's field without The international research synthesis workshops using disciplinary jargon. I often employ "role- address the interests of many countries around playing" in these workshops to facilitate a the world in doctoral education in light of better understanding of the delicate advisor- national innovation policies. In these week-long advisee relationship. Globalization has only workshops, funded by the National Science accentuated the need for the development Foundation (NSF) and co-sponsored by the of more professional skills beyond the pure host country of the workshop location, CIRGE academic skills. Many countries—Australia, brings together experts in doctoral education New Zealand and those in Europe—have been from different countries. We have published organizing professional skills workshops for two books on doctoral education that resulted their doctoral students as a means of improving from these conferences: Towards a Global PhD career preparation. (2007) and Globalization and its Impact on the Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Q During the workshop you emphasized
for higher social recognition that resulted in "professional feedback". Why is this
the conceptualization of such a degree. They are different from a research doctorate in that there is no original research involved. Rather We learn more when we receive feedback on than generating original research, the focus is our work from colleagues in a professional way. on applying and using knowledge in different By this I can learn what was good and what contexts. I think both these types of doctorates we can improve upon, and receive concrete are desirable and have their place in society. suggestions on how to do this. In conferences that I have attended, I have noticed students Q How important is it to have a mentor in
become startled or baffled when posed with queries after presentation of their papers, and they struggle to answer them. This may well be Though we do learn from experience and because the question is not well understood or often by ourselves, I believe a mentor can be the feedback is discouraging. Students need to extremely beneficial. A mentor need not be just learn to stay calm, listen, and ask if they do not the dissertation advisor; he or she can be from understand the comments. They also need to another area or discipline or even from another learn how to become a supportive colleague institution. A mentor taking the mentee under by providing feedback that is constructive his or her wing, so to speak, helps the protégé with concrete suggestions and do so also by to set goals and standards, protects the protégé pointing out the positive aspects. This makes from others in a way that allows room for risk the presenters more comfortable. The same and failure, and facilitates successful entrance applies to any work environment where into academic and professional circles.
collaboration and discussion is involved. One of the objectives of my workshops is to train "Though we do learn from experience and
students to appreciate the contribution of co- often by ourselves, I believe a mentor can be
workers with positive feedback and also point out ways and means of improvement.
Q Did you have a mentor?
Q What are your views on the two different
Yes. While in Germany, a professor in sociology kinds of doctoral degrees—industrial and
was my mentor. I continued consulting with research—awarded in some universities
her, even while pursuing my doctoral studies in the US. And at the University of California (UC) What does an industrial doctorate mean in Berkeley, the Dean of the Graduate Division, also India? If this means professional doctorates, a nuclear chemist, sponsored me professionally, such as a doctorate in nursing, social work, made me aware of mistakes before they saw audiology, or physical therapy, then I am the light of the day, taught me how natural familiar with this degree. In the US, professional and social scientists complemented each associations of these fields have been pushed other and how to successfully design policies Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 for graduate and postgraduate education countries. In the US, the faculty-student in a given environment. I felt protected and relationship tends to be less formal than in guided in the early days of my career, and thus Europe or Asia. In Japan and China, for example, I would call him a mentor who also happened the advisor is more a parent and is treated with great respect. Given the increasing mobility of researchers, we would be wise to include Q When and how did you get interested in
intercultural awareness in training the next generation of researchers. When I was 17, I spent the senior year in an Q What else can be done to improve the
American high school under the American quality of higher education?
Field Surveys programme. This exposed me to different cultures and kindled in me an interest in Training in research has to begin early—right international education. In Germany, I opted to at the undergraduate level. Undergraduate study political science and physical education. students could be introduced to small research After college, I spent two years as a high school projects. There is a pressing need to develop teacher. I became interested in organizational critical thinking skills. There is also a need to change and university education after realizing train students in the art of asking the right that my university education contributed little kind of questions, and not blindly accept to prepare me in my role as high school teacher. whatever is stated by the instructor. This is I wanted to change this. I decided to undertake how independent thinking can be developed. doctoral study in the field of higher education The "flipped classroom" concept that turns the to understand how change in organizations traditional classroom on its head is already comes about. I then moved to UC Berkeley gaining ground in many universities. In this to pursue my interest in higher education model, instructional content is delivered in a because Germany then did not offer a degree video online. Students listen to the lectures in the field of higher education. online before they come to the class. In the classroom, the instructor uses the time to "I became interested in organizational change
involve students in active discussions and and university education after realizing that
hands-on exercises. my university education contributed little to
prepare me in my role as high school teacher"
Q Does culture impact education?
Of course culture impacts education. Every student studying for some time in a different country will notice cultural differences and even talk about culture shock that extends to educational settings. In doctoral education, we find different advising cultures in different Workshop participants
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 MARK TULLY: BBC'S VOICE OF INDIA NITHYANAND RAO AND KARTHIK RAMASWAMY
only by his passion for the Indian Railways. These were among the many subjects he discussed in an interview with CONNECT. Here are excerpts from the conversation: Q How independent do you think the Indian
I think the Indian media is independent of the government. As with any media in a democracy, there may be some newspapers Born in 1935, Mark Tully, who spent the first 10 or TV channels which are pro-government and years of his life in India, was sent to England to some which are anti-government. But usually further his education. After his schooling, he their identity is fairly well-known. In fact, I read History and Theology at Cambridge and think in the fifty-odd years since I've known considered becoming a priest in the Church of this country, the media has actually become England. He abandoned this idea in favour of more independent and less dependent on pursuing a career in journalism. He joined the government information sources. Of course, BBC in 1964 and moved to Delhi as its India the major exception was the Emergency—I Correspondent the following year. don't think the media covered itself in great glory during the Emergency. Tully was associated with the BBC for over three decades, both as a reporter as well as its Bureau But I would like to point out the government Chief in Delhi. For his contributions, he was policy towards radio, where people are still not made an Officer of the British Empire in 1985 and allowed to broadcast independent news and knighted in 2002. The Indian Government (which current affairs. This is a grave infraction because had barred him from entering India during the radio is a very important medium, particularly Emergency) awarded him the Padma Shri in 1992 in a country like India where large numbers of and the Padma Bhushan in 2005. people still don't have televisions.
Tully was in IISc in January to give a talk Q You've worked mainly in radio. What's
organized by the Undergraduate Programme unique about radio journalism?
and the Centre for Contemporary Studies. When CONNECT caught up with him at the Institute's Radio broadcasting differs from print Guest House, he had been deprived of a good journalism for many reasons. One very obvious night's sleep, thanks to a flight delay. He greeted reason is that you have to be precise and quite us cheerfully, but made sure that he conveyed his simple. With TV, you have pictures to help; so dislike for airlines and airports, a dislike matched writing isn't as absolutely crucial. Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 I like radio because it makes me exercise my Well, what you said is not absolutely true—you writing skills. I like it because I love listening have papers like The Guardian in the UK and to radio. I think one of the greatest pleasures The Tribune in India, which are run by trusts. you can have in life is, for instance, listening to Secondly, you have, in many democracies, a drama on radio. It's similar to perhaps how organizations like the BBC which are not run your mother used to read to you when you by the government. The BBC, though a public broadcaster, I think that radio has three great advantages has always maintained, and fought for, its which make it continually popular. You can independence from the [British] government. listen to it while you're doing other things. In my experience of working at the BBC, I That's why breakfast radio is so popular in remember many occasions when the BBC came Britain. It's a medium that leaves room for your under pressure from the [British] government imagination and therefore it's highly personal. and resisted that pressure. I remember covering And the third factor is its intimacy. I was once the anti-[Zulfikar Ali] Bhutto movement; I was speaking in a cathedral in Britain, and quite a called in by the British High Commissioner in lot of people came. I said that I don't know why Pakistan and told that Mr. Bhutto did not like so many people had come because I'm just a me and it would be a good idea if I left the journalist. At the end of it, an elderly lady came country. So I said to him, "Well, that means I've up to me and said, "You asked why I had come. got to stay here for two more weeks," when in I came because I think of you as my friend." This fact I was hoping to go back to India.
is a unique quality of radio—that of intimacy. With good radio, you as a broadcaster should But this independence depends very much on be able to give many people the impression the proprietor. If you have a proprietor like Mr. that you're talking directly to them. [Rupert] Murdoch, then your policy is dictated for you and you cannot escape from that. Then That's why I think it's a very important, and a you have to do your journalism within those very popular, medium. limitations. But it is important to realize that the public knows about that. Nobody in Britain has "This is a unique quality of radio—that
of intimacy. With good radio, you as a
any doubts about where the political support broadcaster should be able to give many
for The Sun or The Times lies. I think that is a people the impression that you're talking
very important thing to remember about this directly to them"
question that you posed.
Q Every media organization needs
Q Do you think a public broadcaster like
financial backing, either from the the BBC is still relevant and required? In the
government, politicians, business houses
Indian context, do you think Doordarshan
or philanthropists. How does it survive
and the All India Radio do a reasonable job?
the scourge of the agendas of the financial
stakeholders, whoever they may be?
I think government broadcasters like AIR and Doordarshan have limited impact because Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 everyone knows that they are the voice of the Q As an editor, how do you decide what's
sarkar. One of the reasons why the BBC was newsworthy? How do you balance the need
very influential in the 1960s, 70s and 80s was for reporting good news along with the
because the only other available broadcasters "man bites dog" stories?
from within India, both on radio and TV, were the government ones and everyone Well, this is an old question. At the BBC, I once knew that they carried government news. worked on a programme called the Good News Therefore, people turned to the BBC. So I think programme. We used to scour the world's that governments which rely on government papers for good news, and we got quite a lot media too much are making a mistake and are of good news, but we didn't get very many underestimating their audience. listeners. So this is a problem. You're absolutely right that sensationalism is something which is "I think that governments which rely on
sometimes quite difficult to avoid. But I think government media too much are making
there's a way of balancing this to some extent a mistake and are underestimating their
by having thoughtful and in-depth articles rather than just news stories. In all journalism, Q Do you recall any specific cases where
balance is a very difficult thing to achieve. you were put under pressure by the
"At the BBC, I once worked on a programme
Indian government, other than during the
called the Good News programme. We used
to scour the world's papers for good news,
and we got quite a lot of good news, but we
During the Emergency, we were thrown out of didn't get very many listeners"
the country. And we've been attacked often in the [Indian] Parliament. Q You've been awarded the Padma Bhushan,
you've been knighted, won several other
There were complaints made quite often awards. What do these awards mean to you?
about specific TV films which were made. One example was a film about the cleaning of the Of course, it's a great honour. But I don't call Ganges when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime myself Sir Mark Tully, although some people call me that. I certainly would not put Padma Bhushan on my card or anything like that. I I always say about journalism: you can question wouldn't like to boast about them. At the same the balance of the piece, and as a journalist you time, I don't want to diminish the importance of have to admit that you sometimes get things these awards, because other people have given wrong. If you don't admit that, you're either a them to me and it would be very ungenerous liar or an idiot—an idiot if you don't recognize to say that it doesn't matter. But I'd also like to it. But I can recall no real incident where we say that I hope they have not made me less were put under pressure. Mind you, by this accessible to people or turned my head.
evening, I might have remembered. [Laughs] Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 DT MOURYA: DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF VIROLOGY MANBEENA CHAWLA
country's priorities. There are many emerging and re-emerging viral diseases spreading in our country. A large number of people are getting affected with morbidity and mortality, thereby affecting public health. Keeping these things in view, the agenda and priorities are decided by the Institute.
Q Do you miss active research?
In addition to all the administrative responsibilities, I am actively involved in Established in 1952, the National Institute of scientific activities and I also have my own Virology (NIV) in Pune is one of the major institutes research projects. It is really tough to take time of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). out for science, but somehow I try to manage It houses a BSL-4 (Biosafety Level 4) facility which to do it by working long hours. But the time I allows researchers to work with pathogens that want to give to science has reduced because could cause severe to fatal diseases in humans, of so much administrative work, travel and and for which vaccines or other treatments are not available. Q What measures are we taking to tackle
NIV is headed by DT Mourya who took over as the Zika virus, especially since there is now
its Director in September 2011. In his illustrious increased trade and travel between India
career, he has received several honours, including and South America?
the first Dr. T Ramachandra Rao ICMR Award in 1990 for his work in the field of medical Firstly, we are making efforts for preparedness entomology. for Zika. If it comes to India, we want to make sure that we will be able to contain the disease. Mourya was in IISc on 11 April, 2016 to conduct a workshop titled Biorisk Preparedness in We will also have to consider our research Laboratory Setting, during which he gave priorities. For instance, the Zika virus is a several lectures. He took a few minutes off from flavivirus similar to the dengue virus, but is his packed schedule to talk to CONNECT. unlike chikungunya, which is an alpha virus. So by taking such factors into consideration, it will Q As the Director of NIV, how do you decide
help us understand aspects of its biology such on your priorities and agenda?
as how it replicates. This will also help in the As the Director, I decide on priorities based on surveillance programme and in the detection the mandate of the Institute, and also on the of this virus in the vector. Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Q In 2014, a study showed that the number
Yes, we have opened 3 field stations now : one of dengue cases were vastly under-reported
is in Bangalore itself, one is in Kerala, and third in India. Why?
is in Gorakhpur [in Uttar Pradesh]. The country It is unfortunately very common in India, is vast and we need to understand disease not just for dengue, but for other diseases scenarios from a regional perspective. A as well. The problem is that good diagnostic disease may be different in Himachal Pradesh tools are still not available, such as a good as compared to Karnataka. ICMR has taken ELISA test [a test to determine the presence initiative to establish Virus Research Diagnostic of antibodies generated within the patient's Laboratories [VRDLs] in all states to address the body in response to any infectious disease], issue of viral infections.
so that proper IgM [Immunoglobulin M, the Q What will be your priorities in the coming
first and most common antibody to appear in response to an antigen] monitoring can be done. Thereby, we can understand the number There are two main priorities. The first is in the of cases and the spread of the disease. Disease area of respiratory infections as they spread burden estimation is also necessary. very fast. Many emerging infections like H1N1 spread through the respiratory mode. Q What is the status of polio in India? Has it
Besides this, many people are not even aware been completely eradicated?
of diseases being caused by RSV [Respiratory Type 2 polio virus has already been eradicated Syncytial Virus]. We now know that about 10% and now we are in what is called a "shift of people suffering from influenza are infected period". So in this shift period of 6 months, we because of RSV. The second priority is viral have stopped administering children oral polio hemorrhagic fever. We also want to focus on vaccinations. When this vaccination is given, immune therapeutics because there are many it produces immunity in children, but also viral diseases for which anti-virals and vaccines replicates in the body. And so it is released in are not available. the environment through excreta which has Q You are here to conduct a workshop on safe
to be reduced. Vaccine-associated outbreaks laboratory practices. Tell us more about it.
have been known for a long time; so nobody wants to take that risk. Now, Inactivated Polio One thing that I have realised in my 15 year- Vaccine [IPV] has been introduced, which will career in biocontainment is that there are help wipe out this virus. The combined effect a lot of lacunae when it comes to following of IPV and oral vaccine can provide additional safety protocols in laboratories working on protection to the children. Very soon, possibly pathogens. We plan to create and enhance by 2017, we should be able to complete this knowledge, as well as increase awareness task of eradication of the disease. about this simple, yet important responsibility in all important institutes working on Q NIV is active in setting up field units in
infectious agents. So we are conducting 1-5 different parts of the country for studying
days workshops on basic safety protocols in viral diseases. How do you decide where
institutes across the country. they should come up?
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 HOT OFF THE PRESS Recent research highlights from IISc
Compiled by NITHYANAND RAO from press releases written by the SCIENCE MEDIA CENTER*
Light-activated iron compounds to fight cancer
Researchers from the Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry and the Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics have discovered that a class of inorganic iron compounds called iron (III) catecholates can be used to kill cancerous Cour These compounds are activated when irradiated with red light. On being administered to a cancer cell, they attack its mitochondria—the organelle which produces energy—thus killing the cell. This method avoids the problems of skin sensitivity caused by organic drugs. It is also extremely selective because it is activated only by light. The team now aims to investigate the action of this anti-cancer drug in animal models.
Published in: European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry
Read more at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ejic.201501105
An improved rainfall detection model
How termites fortify their mounds
Detection of rainfall over land using satellite images Researchers from the Centre for Ecological Sciences is tricky, since the microwave radiation from land and the Department of Civil Engineering have heated by the Sun obscures the radiation from rain discovered how Odontotermes obesus, a fungus- clouds. The variation in land cover poses another growing termite, alters the physical and mechanical properties of the soil in order to make the mounds strong and stable.
Now, researchers from the Department of Civil Engineering have developed a new model for They compared the soil in termite mounds to the detecting rainfall. The team tested their model surrounding soil, and found that the soil particles in on satellite data from the basin area of the river the mound were smaller. Besides, through a process Mahanadi and compared the results with actual called "biocementation", the termites strengthened rainfall data for select events from ground-based the soil tenfold. It involves making little boluses of sources. The model detected rainfall in 95% of the soil using their own secretions. Biocementation also case study events.
makes the mound less susceptible to erosion and collapse.
Published in: Hydrological Sciences Journal
Read more at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02626667
Published in: Environmental Geotechnics
Read more at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1680/
* Science Media Center is a joint initiative of IISc and Gubbi Labs Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Stem cells for the heart and the brain
Studying stem cells has become a popular area of research in recent years because of its enormous potential in treating tissue damage.
Researchers from the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Materials Research Centre took a step in fulfilling this potential when they used a pulsed current to A induce stem cells to transform into heart cells, and a direct current to transform them into nerve : GREESHM cells. In both cases, the current was transmitted using gold nanoparticles, which through tesy "electroactuation" exerted mechanical forces on the stem cells. This technique could be used to Cour differentiate stem cells for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
Published in: Biomaterials
Read more at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2015.10.078
Garlic-artemisinin combination effective against
A new TB vaccine candidate
Researchers from the Department of Microbiology Artemisinin, the discovery of which won the 2015 and Cell Biology, collaborating with those from Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, is widely other institutions in India, have identified a new used to treat Plasmodium falciparum, the most candidate vaccine for tuberculosis.
lethal form of malaria. However, the parasite is increasingly becoming resistant to artemisinin, The researchers recruited groups of healthy especially in parts of Asia. The WHO, therefore, volunteers who have a latent TB infection—the recommends using artemisinin in combination bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis being with other drugs.
present in a dormant state—and those with active TB. They treated blood samples of both groups with Researchers from the Department of Biochemistry and various peptides which are smaller parts of Rv1860, the University of Birmingham have found that a garlic a protein secreted by the TB pathogen. This was concentrate along with arteether, a semi-synthetic found to stimulate CD8+ T cells, which are involved derivative of artemisinin, is an effective combination in the human body's immune response. This effect to combat malaria caused by Plasmodium berghei, of Rv1860 was significantly greater in the volunteers a mouse analogue of Plasmodium falciparum. The who had latent infection compared to those who combination therapy worked successfully, while had the active disease.
either drug on its own did not. What's more, the mice did not suffer a relapse.
The researchers next aim to validate the results with larger study groups.
The researchers are now studying the mechanism of garlic's anti-malarial action.
Published in: Clinical and Vaccine Immunology
Read more at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/
Published in: Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports
Read more at:
bbrep.2016.01.015 Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Storing hydrogen more efficiently
One of the major challenges in using hydrogen as a fuel is finding a way to store it efficiently. A material that has a carbon base with metal atoms "decorat-ed" on it does store hydrogen, but not as much as AD and ABHISHEK KUM it theoretically could. This is because oxygen atoms too get adsorbed by the metal atoms.
Now, researchers at the Materials Research Centre have come up with a way to enhance hydrogen adsorption by "capping" the metal atoms with molecules called arenes. This alters the electronic structure of the metal atoms in such a way that the interaction with oxygen atoms is selectively blocked.
This solution could also be applied elsewhere, such as in gas sensing and catalytic systems.
Published in: International Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Read more at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2016.02.081
A tool to compute hydrogen bonds
Protein structure from sequence
A hydrogen bond is one in which a hydrogen atom Researchers at the Molecular Biophysics Unit have of one molecule is attracted to an electronegative developed a method called "saturation suppressor atom—such as a nitrogen or oxygen atom—of mutagenesis" to predict which amino acids in a another molecule. Hydrogen bonds are abundant protein lie close to each other. This is important in nature, playing an important role in determining for predicting the structure and, therefore, the the shapes and functions of biomolecules, including function, of a protein from its specific sequence DNA and proteins. of amino acids. Traditional methods require high-quality protein crystals, which may not always be A team at the Department of Computational and Data Sciences has developed a Hydrogen Bonds Computing Server (HBCS, http:// bioserver1.
Suppressor mutations, which preserve protein physics.iisc.ernet.in/hbcs/) which computes various function, happen when mutations in one amino properties of the hydrogen bonds in a given acid are compensated for by mutations in amino molecule, and also the estimated error in these acids close by. A comprehensive procedure to calculations. For this, HBCS uses a repository of identify suppressors has now been devised. This standard information about the 3D structures of was achieved by creating an inactivating mutation various biological macromolecules. Users can also in a protein and then systematically searching for input information about any other molecule whose suppressors. Using mutations in several places, the hydrogen bond properties they wish to compute.
researchers were able to piece together proximity information for multiple pairs of amino acids.
Published in: Journal of Applied Crystallography
Read more at:
Published in: eLife
Read more at: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 DISPATCHES FROM THE LAB In this section, we shine the spotlight on researchers from IISc who are making a splash
in their fields of research
BASED ON INPUTS FROM THE FEATURED RESEARCHERS
A CHOCKALINGAM (PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRICAL COMMUNICATION ENGINEERING) AND B SUNDAR RAJAN (PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRICAL COMMUNICATION ENGINEERING) RESEARCH IN LARGE-SCALE MIMO SYSTEMS Multi-antenna wireless communication has reliability. Large-scale multiple-input multiple- become immensely popular because of its output (MIMO) systems with tens to hundreds of unique advantage of achieving increased data antennas are being considered for 5G wireless rate (without increasing bandwidth) and link standards. Chockalingam and Sundar Rajan's Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 labs have made pioneering contributions in More recently, recognizing the value and
the area of large-scale MIMO systems (now importance of translating their research
popularly called Massive MIMO systems). They output into practice, Chockalingam and
have developed near-optimal low-complexity Sundar Rajan, jointly with DRDO and partners
receiver algorithms that broke the optimum from industry, have developed a large-scale
receiver complexity barrier encountered in MIMO system that uses 16 transmit antennas
large dimensions. These algorithms are rooted and 20 receive antennas in the 2.5 GHz band
in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Chockalingam and Sundar Rajan have also algorithms based on local search and meta authored a book titled Large MIMO Systems, heuristics (tabu search, for example), belief published by Cambridge University Press propagation/message passing and Monte in 2014. It is the Carlo sampling methods. Ingenious ideas first book to take in these proposed algorithms with carefully an in-depth look balanced performance and complexity were instrumental in the success of these algorithms for signal detection in large-scale MIMO tens to hundreds systems. This collaborative research by these two electronics communication engineers Chinese edition of resulted in the early development of the field this book is being of large-scale MIMO systems. They also have several US patents granted in this area.
Their book on the subject
This collaborative research by these two
electronics communication engineers
resulted in the early development of the field
of large-scale MIMO systems. They also have
several US patents granted in this area
More recently, recognizing the value and importance of translating their research output into practice, Chockalingam and Sundar Rajan, jointly with DRDO and partners from industry, have developed a large-scale MIMO system that uses 16 transmit antennas and 20 receive antennas in the 2.5 GHz band. The basic design and implementation approach for this system are based on their patents on large-scale MIMO.
A 20-Antenna MIMO Cube
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 GAUTAM DESIRAJU (PROFESSOR, SOLID STATE AND STRUCTURAL CHEMISTRY UNIT) PIONEER IN CRYSTAL ENGINEERING Gautam Radhakrishna Desiraju—one of India's currently a member of the editorial advisory most eminent chemists—joined IISc in 2009 boards of Angewandte Chemie, Journal of after 30 years at the University of Hyderabad. It the American Chemical Society and Chemical was he who, in his 1989 book, coined the term Communications. "crystal engineering", which he defined as "the understanding of intermolecular interactions In their research, Desiraju's group uses in the context of crystal packing and using it a technique called nanoindentation, in to design new solids with desired physical collaboration with U Ramamurty of the and chemical properties". He is also associated Department of Materials Engineering, to with terms such as "weak hydrogen bond" and understand the mechanical behaviour of "supramolecular synthon", now an integral organic crystals and to correlate it with the part of a crystallographer's lexicon, and is properties of the molecules in these crystals. one of the most highly cited Indian scientists. With this tool, they have studied the properties He was president of the International Union of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) of Crystallography from 2011 to 2014 and is felodipine and also engineered the hardness Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 of an important API, omeprazole. Recently, of a supramolecular combinatorial library can they have also identified the structural be profitably extended to the crystallization features that enable organic crystals such as process, with supramolecular synthons being N-benzylideneaniline to be highly flexible. the constituents of such a library.
Using nanoindentation, Desiraju's group
Desiraju's lab has also successfully improved has studied the properties of the active
the physical and chemical properties of the pharmaceutical ingredient (API) felodipine
diuretic drug hydrochlorothiazide using and also engineered the hardness of an
various other compounds with which it can important API, omeprazole.
Desiraju's research team has established for the first time dual mechanical properties in an organic crystal, namely pressure- induced elastic mechanical bending and temperature-induced crystal splitting. A combinatorial crystal synthesis approach has been explored to design ternary—three component—molecular solids that constitute the crystal structure landscape. This concept Front and back cover pages of Desiraju's textbook co-authored by
Jagadese Vittal and Arunachalam Ramanan
Desiraju with his team
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 MATHEMATICS: BRIDGING A closer look at contributions of researchers who seek to connect various scientific disciplines through
a common language
Founded in 1956 as the Department of Applied equal to that of any other maths department Mathematics by PL Bhatnagar, an eminent in the country," he says. mathematician, the initial mandate of the Department was to provide mathematical The name change reflected an expansion training to students in the science and in the research interests of the Department, engineering programmes of the Institute. which was earlier focused on areas considered It took its current name in 1989 during CNR as applied mathematics, such as the kinetic Rao's tenure as the Director of IISc, a period theory of gases and fluid mechanics, areas that that Gadadhar Misra, the current head of the Bhatnagar was active in. But this is not the case Department, believes led to a reinvigoration. today. "Unlike many other institutes, we live "He tried to put the Department on a footing happily without having any biases about what Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 sort of mathematics should be done," adds "When you see abstraction, you may not see
any applications directly. But abstraction
really makes mathematics more applicable"
The research interests of faculty members in
Analysis, another major branch, is the study of the Department are diverse. Traditionally, the mathematical functions and how they change. different areas of research in mathematics fall The beginnings of analysis may also be found within its "three pillars": algebra, analysis, and in high-school mathematics curriculum in geometry. These are, however, more than just the form of calculus. Central to analysis is the branches—they are also ways of thinking concept of the limit of an infinite sequence that permeate across the myriad avenues of or of the sum of an infinite series—a quantity research that mathematicians pursue.
that will not be exceeded, yet one that can never be reached no matter how many terms Broadly speaking, algebra is the study one considers. An example is the sequence of operations that one can carry out on of numbers 0.9, 0.99, 0.999, and so on, which mathematical objects. The algebra that approaches, but never reaches, unity. The one learns in high-school might appear, techniques of analysis applied to the abstract superficially, to be the manipulation of algebraic structures yield various avenues symbols with the aim of solving various kinds of research, pursued by Gadadhar Misra and of equations. But trying to solve equations has, over the centuries, often been fertile ground for creating new mathematics. Structures, or sets A major topic in analysis is the study of of elements which have common properties partial differential equations (PDEs), which and upon which one can define certain are used to model many natural phenomena. operations, that emerged from trying to solve Nandakumaran studies PDEs, especially those equations later became objects of study. The that arise in applications such as medical study of such structures, and operations on imaging. Often, solutions for these equations them, is what is today called algebra. Faculty cannot be found in the form of exact formulae, members of the Department who do research which is where numerical analysis comes in, in algebra are Dilip Patil and Pooja Singla.
the idea being to develop algorithms that can give approximate but reliable answers. Such Such abstraction—developing a theory rather techniques, some of which are employed than techniques to solve individual problems— by Thirupathi Gudi, do not merely generate is what gives mathematics its power. "When numbers, but provide insight into the you see abstraction, you may not see any phenomenon being studied.
applications directly. But abstraction really makes mathematics more applicable," says AK The study of real numbers themselves, often Nandakumaran, a professor in the Department.
integers, is called number theory. This line of Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 research is pursued by Soumya Das. Historically, Topology, by contrast, is the study, especially it was in trying to solve equations which had in higher dimensions, of distinct shapes that no solutions in the real numbers that the can be twisted and stretched but not torn or "imaginary" number—the "square root" of punctured. Therefore, apples are topologically - 1—was invented. This gave rise to complex the same as oranges because it is possible to numbers. The study of functions of one or deform one (in your imagination, at least) into more complex variables is, generally, what's the other. They are, however, distinct from, called complex analysis, which is the research say, the rubber tube in a vehicle's tyre. The area of Gautam Bharali and Kaushal Verma. topologists in the Department include Basudeb Datta, Siddhartha Gadgil and Subhojoy Gupta.
The study of how a function can be expressed in terms of a set of more basic periodic functions The Department also has a strong group, is the subject of harmonic analysis. Faculty who comprising Arvind Ayyer, Mrinal Ghosh, study harmonic analysis include S Thangavelu Srikanth Iyer, and Manjunath Krishnapur, that and EK Narayanan. As such, it finds application works on probability theory and stochastic in any area of science and engineering where processes. Ayyer studies, among other things, signals need to be analysed.
Markov chains, which are models for systems that evolve randomly whose next state depends Geometry, the third pillar of mathematics, is only on the current state; Ghosh investigates the study of shapes. Central to geometry are stochastic processes that have applications in higher-dimensional generalizations of shapes financial markets and in other real-life systems; called manifolds—the surface of a sphere or of Iyer works on stochastic phenomena arising in an inflated bicycle tube are familiar examples. wireless networks, financial instruments and Modern geometry involves studying these their pricing, and interacting particle systems; shapes from different perspectives. One of and Krishnapur studies the theory of matrices them, algebraic geometry, is the study of whose elements are random variables. manifolds that can be described using algebraic equations and studied using algebraic G Rangarajan works on the applications of techniques. It is pursued in the Department by nonlinear dynamics in, for example, networks, Abhishek Banerjee. time series of various phenomena, and biological processes.
Another faculty member, Harish Seshadri, meanwhile, does differential geometry, which employs the methods of analysis in the study of The Department has 21 faculty members, geometric objects. An example of a problem in which, Misra says, is smaller compared to differential geometry would be to understand other major mathematics centres in India and how heat flows from one part of a manifold to abroad. Yet, the Department has more than 50 another, especially when there are multiple students enrolled in the PhD and Integrated paths available.
PhD programmes, with up to 15 new students enrolling every year. Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Apart from the regular PhD and Integrated people interested in mathematics, who do PhD programmes, the Department also hosts mathematics, who apply mathematics. the PhD programme in Interdisciplinary otherwise everybody works in isolation." Mathematical Sciences. "The fact that we have an Interdisciplinary PhD programme, housed In 2012, DST expanded the particularly in our Department, is a matter of scope of the programme, and great pride," says Misra. As he puts it, it's ideal it was renamed as the National for a student, who, for instance, "has solved a lot Mathematics Initiative (NMI). of differential equations but wants to really see While still coordinated by IISc, events are how the wings of a plane warp and influence now held outside IISc too. "IISc continues to motion in practice." This unique programme be the nodal agency but the programme gives students the option of doing their PhD in now has a wider focus; it has spread out," says an area of science that involves mathematical Misra. Rangarajan, under whose leadership work. Students can choose from various IMI began, continues to be the Convener interdisciplinary projects that are listed at the of NMI. Every year, a committee headed by time of admission. They could, for example, Rangarajan, the Chairperson of the Division choose supervisors from among those who are of Interdisciplinary Research, decides a part of the DST Centre for Mathematical Biology, "theme"—an interdisciplinary subject area to also hosted by the Mathematics Department, focus on. The current theme is game theory which brings together researchers from across and optimization. IISc to work on problems in biology, amenable to mathematization. At IISc, NMI involves more than 35 faculty members "The fact that we have an Interdisciplinary
Researchers from leading institutions all over PhD programme, housed particularly in our
India, and abroad, also participate in this department, is a matter of great pride"
Initiative, along with resource persons from national laboratories and the industry— The Interdisciplinary PhD programme is a something unique in India. "Though individual part of the IISc Mathematics Initiative (IMI). interactions were there, NMI provided This initiative began in 2003 to encourage a structure to these interactions," says collaborative work between mathematicians and other researchers across departments in the Institute who used mathematics in their All these activities are housed in an inviting research areas. Although the programmes— two-storey building, its airy architecture workshops, conferences, short courses— reminding one of the all-encompassing nature focusing on various interdisciplinary topics of mathematics, and the welcoming façade were held at IISc, people from outside were putting its visitors—even those for whom encouraged to participate, says Nandakumaran, mathematics may have been a forbidding who was involved with IMI from the beginning. subject in school—at ease.
The aim, he says, was "to bring together all Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Meet new faculty members who have joined IISc
SRIRAM GANAPATHY (Assistant Professor, Department
of Electrical Engineering) is from Thiruvananthapuram.
He completed his PhD from Johns Hopkins University,
USA, in modelling for audio and speech signals. After a
stint as a Research Scientist at IBM TJ Watson Research
Center, USA, where he worked on algorithms for dealing
with highly noisy speech signals, he is now in IISc. Here he
plans to pursue his research interests in signal processing,
speech processing, machine learning and deep learning
to extract information from speech and audio signals.
SARASIJ DAS (Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical
Engineering) received his PhD from the University of
Western Ontario, Canada. He pursued his postdoctoral
work at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology,
also in Canada. His research interests include smart
grids, power system protection and monitoring, grid
integration of renewable energy and power system data
mining and analysis.
JYOTHSNA RANI KOMARAGIRI (Assistant Professor, Centre
for High Energy Physics), originally from Hyderabad, did
her PhD from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research,
Mumbai. Her research, done in collaboration with
Fermilab, USA, was in the area of high energy physics.
Komaragiri then did her postdoctoral studies at Simon
Fraser University, Canada. At IISc, she is part of the newly
formed Experimental High Energy Physics group.
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 ANAND SRIVASTAVA (Assistant Professor, Molecular
Biophysics Unit) was born and raised in Patna, Bihar. He
has an engineering degree from IIT-Kharagpur and a PhD
from Ohio State University for his dissertation on glass
transition temperature in thin films. He later joined the
University of Chicago, USA, as a postdoctoral researcher
to explore his interest in chemical-physics theory and
molecular modeling. Now at IISc, Srivastava's primary
interests are in the areas of mechanobiology and force-
induced conformation changes in proteins.
Department of Electrical Communication Engineering) did his Bachelor's degree from BITS Pilani and went on to get his Master's and doctoral degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, USA. His work in IISc is in the area of image and video quality assessment. He is interested in predicting the quality of visual signals that would be in accordance with how humans perceive them, and also in information theory.
VIBHOR SINGH (Assistant Professor, Department of
Physics) hails from Haridwar in Uttarakhand. He obtained
his PhD from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research,
Mumbai, studying the condensed matter properties of
atomically thin system graphene. His postdoctoral work at
the Technical University of Delft, the Netherlands, was on
developing new opto-mechanical platforms based on two
dimensional materials and superconducting microwave
cavities. At IISc, he plans to set up an experimental lab
to probe the motion of nanoelectromechanical systems
in the quantum limit and their applications in quantum
Compiled by MANU RAJAN and SUDHI OBEROI
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 BOOST FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH SUDHI OBEROI
Infosys Foundation has announced a financial highlighted by G Padmanaban, a former Director grant to the Centre for Infectious Disease Research of IISc and currently an Emeritus Professor at the (CIDR) at IISc to help broaden its research and Department of Biochemistry, during a session of also provide additional infrastructural support to the Global Alumni Meet of IISc in June 2015.
Speaking to CONNECT, Dipankar Nandi, a Infectious diseases like tuberculosis (TB), malaria, professor at the Department of Biochemistry HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and more recently SARS, and Convenor of the committee that runs CIDR, Ebola and Zika virus diseases are posing a threat said that Sudha Murthy (Chairperson, Infosys to human health around the world. With human- Foundation, and an alumnus of IISc), who was induced changes to the environment and chairing this session, immediately offered to help increased globalization, pathogens have become CIDR in its plans for expansion.
more likely to switch hosts and spread across traditional geographic barriers, causing not In an interview to CONNECT, Murthy stressed just more frequent disease outbreaks, but also upon the importance of advancing fundamental epidemics. While some infectious diseases have research in the area of infectious diseases and been well researched and can be prevented, or also developing new drugs and diagnostics.
cured, many others, particularly tropical diseases, have received far less attention. A major goal of The support from Infosys Foundation, which will CIDR, set up in 2013, is to help plug this gap and be spread over five years, will help in building address questions in infectious disease research an annex to the Centre—this will house three that are more relevant to countries like India.
laboratories and more office space. In addition, a small animal BSL-3 facility for research will Currently, CIDR consists of a central lab, a state- be built. The research team at CIDR will also be of-the-art bio containment space known as the expanded. It will recruit two Infosys Fellows who Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) facility and office space will conduct independent research. According to for its researchers. In the past few months, the Nandi, some of the money from the Foundation will also be used to pursue another important goal of the Centre: translational research. to expand the scope of its The Centre, which is already working with researchers from all over the Institute to ensure an interdisciplinary approach to studying infectious diseases, also plans to organize seminars to increase public awareness on the subject. Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 IISc AND GE INK AGREEMENT RANJINI RAGHUNATH (WITH INPUT FROM Y NARAHARI)
In December last year, IISc and GE India Technology Centre signed an agreement to formalize their collaborative efforts in many different areas of research. The MoU was signed by Registrar of IISc, V Rajarajan, and D Umamaheshwar, Executive Chief Consulting Engineer at GE Aviation, in the presence of Anurag Kumar, Director of IISc. Over the past decade, IISc has been working believe in an open, collaborative approach to on several collaborative research projects innovation. With the convergence of the physical with GE India Technology Centre, GE's largest and digital worlds and the ability to connect multidisciplinary R&D centre. To take this like never before, the premium and benefit on collaboration to the next level, Anurag Kumar collaboration has never been greater. In India, we and some of his senior faculty colleagues made a have a strategic vision to build long term relations visit to their facility in Bangalore, the John F Welch with the premier institutes and IISc is one of Technology Centre, in April 2015. At this meeting, the top institutes we want to collaborate with," several broad areas such as energy, hybrid power, said Umamaheshwar, speaking to CONNECT. distributed control and optimization, big data "We have chosen IISc because of its reputation, analytics and Industrial Internet were identified talent, and high-end research capabilities." IISc for collaboration. In the following months, and GE India Technology Centre have very similar multiple workshops were organized in these multidisciplinary research interests, he added. focus areas involving IISc faculty members and GE researchers, paving the way for several joint As part of the agreement, several high-impact project ideas in these research areas.
projects in the identified areas will soon be launched under the aegis of IISc's Society for "This MoU will go a long way in fostering high Innovation and Development. Many of these impact collaborations and push the frontiers areas represent fields that GE is currently making in exciting areas such as big data analytics, strides and heavily investing in, apart from its core distributed optimization algorithms for hybrid engineering focus, according to Umamaheshwar. energy systems, breakthrough new materials, "The talent and research infrastructure at IISc and the Industrial Internet," said Y Narahari, will be a great value-addition to GE, while IISc Chairman, Division of Electrical Sciences at researchers will have an opportunity to leverage IISc. "We are looking forward to harnessing GE's expertise and industry insights," he said.
the synergy between academic creativity and industrial innovation." At the MoU signing, IISc and GE also inked an agreement to implement Corporate Social GE, which has a presence in 175 countries, already Responsibility (CSR) projects at IISc over the next has several such "umbrella" research agreements with leading universities worldwide. "At GE, we Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 CAMPUS CHRONICLES DESIGNING FOR A CLEANER NATION about what they've already done in their own silos—whereas here we're looking for creative solutions which impact the lives of waste collectors. We wanted the participants to have a much more interactive, engaging experience than just another knowledge sharing session," said Gayitri Handanahal of Waste Impact.
Participants during the Reimagine Waste hackathon
Reimagine Waste, a "design hackathon", was On the final day, the 12 finalists presented organized at IISc by the Centre for Product their solutions to a panel of judges comprising Design and Manufacturing (CPDM), in seasoned entrepreneurs, venture capitalists association with the Centre for infrastructure, and domain experts. The teams were quizzed Sustainable Transport and Urban Planning on various aspects of their proposed solutions, (CiSTUP) and Waste Impact, an NGO. The event such as the viability and marketability of was spread across two weekends: 26-27 March their ideas. The first prize was won by a team and 2-3 April 2016. This hackathon was the first from Infosys, Nitte Meenakshi Institute of in a series of initiatives that aims to tackle the Technology and Alliance University, which growing garbage problem, particularly acute built a system involving a smartphone app, a in Bangalore.
wireless weighing scale, and a "gamification" platform that would enable waste collectors Over 200 students from IISc and elsewhere to record data about the waste collected at the participated in this hackathon. Day one saw an "Immersion" session in which the participants visited various facilities—dry waste collection The finalists have also been given an centres, incinerators, and landfills—across opportunity to refine their ideas and come up Bangalore and its outskirts. Based on this with marketable ventures within 45 days. "We first-hand knowledge, on day two, problem would be happy even if one or two of these statements were proposed and participants ideas become viable enterprises which make a were divided into teams, with each team real difference on the ground. In addition, the tackling one problem. Each team also included hackathon serves to sensitize participants to at least one waste collector as the domain the problems of waste management in our city expert. On day three, the teams were provided and how they can be part of the solution rather with the raw materials, tools and machining than just the problem," Manish Arora, a faculty facilities to "hack away" at the problem and member from CPDM and one of the brains come up with solutions within 24 hours. "In behind this novel experiment, told CONNECT.
traditional workshops, participants only talk NAVIN S
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 In the general panel discussion, moderated by NDTV journalist Maya Sharma, the panel raised critical questions, including those related to the perception of women scientists and the importance of their inclusion in decision making processes. One of the panelists, From left to right: Anurag Kumar (Director, IISc), Kiran Mazumdar
Sandhya Visweswariah (Professor, Department Shaw (Chairperson and Director, Biocon Limited) and Sandhya
Visweswariah (Professor, IISc) at WiSER 2016
of Molecular Reproduction, Development and "If I can get institutes to realize that something Genetics, IISc), felt that the criteria for recognition special needs to be done to encourage both in academia are tilted in favour of men. young women students and faculty to prosper, A second panel discussion addressed, among then I would have achieved something," said other issues, the dilemma that women often Rohini Godbole (Professor, Centre for High face in trying to balance family life and work. Energy Physics, IISc), setting the tone for the During the discussion, Narayan Sundaram first Women in Science, Engineering and (Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Research (WiSER) conference. Organized by the Engineering, IISc) admitted that men were IISc Families and Friends and the IISc Alumni aware of the problems faced by women in Association on 2 April 2016 at the Institute, various spheres of life, but often lacked the the event brought together women, and men, vocabulary to express their support. Usha from industry and academia to discuss the Vijayraghavan (Professor, Department of obstacles that women researchers face.
Microbiology and Cell Biology, IISc) felt that the In his introductory remarks, Anurag Kumar, path is easier for the current generation than it Director, IISc, highlighted the crux of the was a few decades ago.
problem, referred to as the "leaky pipeline" phenomenon: The number of women pursuing The final session featured roundtable science drops dramatically as they climb career discussions in which participants had ladders (even though the percentage of girls to propose, and later discuss with the in schools and colleges is increasing). This audience, practical solutions to address was followed by a keynote address by Kiran various issues such as gender harassment, Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson and Managing women's health, and security. In conclusion, Director, Biocon Limited. Mazumdar-Shaw Vijayalakshmi Ravindranath (Professor, Centre shared experiences of the time when she for Neuroscience, IISc) echoed a widespread was building her company, which, she said, sentiment when she said that she hoped to made her more determined to create more see a day when there are no "women scientists" opportunities for women in leadership roles.
but just scientists who happened to be either women or men.
A version of this article appeared in IndiaBioscience.org Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 transmit and process information—and that on micro and nano electromechanical systems, and microfluidics.
The symposium had sessions on commercial products that resulted from research at CeNSE—such as an air pollution monitoring system named Envirobat, a glucometer being commercialized by the start-up PathShodh, Rudra Pratap, Chairperson of CeNSE, interacting with a participant
pressure sensors for Light Combat Aircraft at Think Nano
The Centre for Nano Science and Engineering and an advanced chemical vapour deposition (CeNSE) organized a National Student reactor for manufacturing graphene. There Symposium, Think Nano, on 31 March and 1 was also a panel discussion involving CeNSE April 2016. The event, being held for the first industry partners, including Unilever, KAS time, was co-sponsored by the Airbus group.
Technologies, Centum Electronics, and Analog Devices.
The idea behind conducting this event, said Rudra Pratap, Chairperson of CeNSE, was to More than 180 undergraduate students from spread awareness among undergraduate all over the country presented their research students about the research and career ideas in the form of posters. They also got an opportunities available in the field of opportunity to visit various laboratories and nanoscience. As part of the symposium, the nano fabrication facility, and to interact with faculty members at CeNSE hosted sessions members of a panel of graduate students at highlighting their research. This included work CeNSE who shared their research experiences. on developing photonics on a chip—using DEBADRITA PARIA
photons rather than electrons to encode, STUDYING CELLS AS THEY FLOW Flow cytometry is a technique in which a stream of single cells or particles is passed through an illumination point, and hit with coherent beams of laser light of specific wavelengths. The information that the scattered photons carry can be used to measure and analyze the physical and chemical properties of the cells or particles. This technology has found several The "Build Your Own Flow Cytometer" session with William Telford
applications, particularly in medical research. Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 To help students learn techniques of flow the National Institutes of Health, USA. The cytometry, the 17th Indo–US Cytometry "workshop also saw many other renowned Workshop on Applications of Laser Flow Cytometry in Biomedical Research was jointly (University of Miami, USA), Zofia Maciorowski organized by IISc, National Centre for Biological (Curie Institute, France), Sumeet Gujral (Tata Sciences (NCBS) and the International Society Memorial Centre, Mumbai) and Vineeta Bal for Advancement of Flow Cytometry, USA, (National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi), between 14–18 March 2016. Students who deliver talks and conduct wet lab modules. participated in the event, held at IISc and NCBS, Some of the modules were also taught by were selected from institutions across India.
scientists working in industry, leading to a healthy interaction between researchers in The star attraction of the workshop was the academia and industry. "Build Your Own Flow Cytometer", a hands-on module conducted by William Telford of TARU VERMA AND SYAMA SREEDHARAN
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE for instance, generate biogas from food waste instead of disposing it in bins. Composting in-house would also reduce the load on the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). The conference emphasized the need to find scientific solutions for resource management and for waste disposal, especially in fast- growing cities like Bangalore. It also underlined Almitra Patel and Tejaswini Ananth Kumar at MSWM 2016
the importance of inclusive solutions that address the livelihoods of the waste-pickers. A conference on Municipal Solid Waste Both the BBMP and various NGOs have been Management (MSWM) was held at IISc on working in this direction.
23 and 24 February 2016. The event was jointly organized by the Energy and Wetlands The conference saw many presentations, Research Group (EWRG) at the Centre including posters by students, research scholars for Ecological Sciences, IISc, Students for and representatives of various companies and Development, and the Karnataka Environment resident welfare associations. They covered Research Foundation. topics ranging from data gathering initiatives related to waste management, disposal of Speakers at the conference emphasized how construction and debris waste and challenges individuals can make a difference by more in dealing with various kinds of waste.
responsible disposal of waste in their own homes, offices and organizations. One could, ELLEN BROCK
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 EECS STUDENTS SYMPOSIUM 2016 The 7th Joint EECS Research Students Symposium was held on 28 and 29 April 2016 at IISc. Participating in the symposium were the Departments of Computational and Data Sciences (CDS), Computer Science and Automation (CSA), Electrical Communication Engineering (ECE), Electrical Engineering (EE), and Electronic Systems Engineering (ESE).
The poster session held during the EECS Symposium 2016
"The primary focus of the EECS symposium is to showcase the research work of final year students from these five departments," Dipanjan Gope, one of the members of the organizing committee from ECE, told CONNECT. Over 50 students, both PhD and Master's, made oral and poster presentations of their research work. The event, sponsored by GE, Bosch, and Flipkart, also provided a platform for industry to sample research from these departments at IISc.
The symposium featured four keynote speakers from outside IISc, including Shihab Shamma, University of Maryland—the first occupant of the K Vaidyanathan Distinguished Chair at IISc. Various faculty members from the participating departments also presented their research. CRESSIDA HAMLET AND PRATEEKSHA VARSHNEY
WORKSHOP ON BIOSAFETY IN LABS A workshop on Biorisk Preparedness in Laboratory Setting, organized by the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, was held in IISc on 11 April 2016. The goal of the workshop, led by D T Mourya, Director, NIV, was to increase awareness about biosafety procedures and risk assessment in laboratories that handle Pragya Yadav, Scientist, National Institute of Virology,
demonstrating biosafety training protocols at the workshop
infectious disease pathogens. Infectious agents are grouped primarily into four categories based on the risk they pose to the individual working with them, and to the community at large. This translates to four biosafety levels (BSL-1, BSL-2, BSL-3 and BSL-4) that are prescribed for handling pathogens from these categories. To highlight the importance of the mandatory training received by all laboratory personnel handling infectious agents in BSL-3 and BSL-4 facilities, Pragya Yadav, NIV, conducted a hands-on training session at the BSL-3 facility in the Centre for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR), IISc. MANBEENA CHAWLA
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Manufacturers (SIAM) organized a Design
Workshop on Two-Wheeler Mobility (South
Zone) at the Centre for Product Design and
Manufacturing in IISc on 19-20 March 2016. SALEEM AHMED
EntorQ 210, an award-winning concept scooter
from TVS Motors, on display during the workshop
A symposium, sponsored by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR), IISc, and the Infosys Foundation, titled Initiative for
Infectious Disease and Immunology Research
at IISc and Imperial College London (I for I5),
was held on 9-10 March 2016. MANBEENA CHAWLA
Amit Singh, Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology and
Cell Biology/Centre for Infectious Disease Research, IISc, speaking
at the symposium
IISc and the Dakshin Foundation, Bangalore, jointly organized an Indo–French workshop titled Exploring the scope of collaborations in
Marine Biology and Biotechnology between
France and India on 7–9 March 2016 at IISc. The
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France was one of the agencies with which the Participants from the workshop relaxing over dinner
Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, partnered in organizing the event. ADITI JAYARAM
You can read more detailed accounts of these and other events at
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 LOOK WHO'S TALKING Some of the important lectures delivered at the IISc in the past few weeks
INSTITUTE COLLOQUIUM: RUDRA PRATAP "Scientific research alone does not take you where you want to be. How do you overcome the temptation to stop after publishing your paper?" asked Rudra Pratap, Professor and Chairperson, Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE), while giving an Institute Colloquium at IISc on 16 March 2016. In the talk, titled Turning Science into Technology: Narratives of Some Exhilarating Experiences, Pratap addressed the question of how to turn scientific research driven by curiosity into technology and, eventually, innovative products. He did this by drawing on some of the recent research projects from his lab as well as those of his colleagues at CeNSE, which he played a key role in founding in 2010.
Pratap and his team developed a method of etching nano-sized circuits while investigating a phenomenon known as electromigration at the nano-scale—electrons in a conductor moving under the influence of an electric field transfer their momentum to the atoms, resulting in transport of material. Pratap also spoke about how his colleagues at CeNSE are translating their research into marketable technologies. He gave the example of a diabetes monitoring device developed by Navakanta Bhat (also a professor at CeNSE) and his student Vinay Kumar, which they have commercialized with a start-up called PathShodh. NITHYANAND RAO
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 INSTITUTE COLLOQUIUM: S GOPALAKRISHNAN S Gopalakrishnan, Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering, gave an Institute Colloquium on 6 April 2016 titled Wave Propagation in Nanomaterials and Structures. Introducing the subject of nanotechnology, he said that the development of a form of carbon known as carbon nanotube (CNT) in 1991 was a major breakthrough in the field. Compared to steel, CNTs have superior tensile strength—100 times greater—despite being only a sixth as dense. Different forms of CNTs can be used for making various miniature sensors and actuators.
After highlighting the different approaches used in the theoretical modeling of CNTs, Gopalakrishnan spoke about his study of the propagation of mechanical waves in quasicrystals. The structure of a quasicrystal differs from that of crystals in that they are ordered but not periodic. A 3D quasicrystal tiling cannot have translational symmetry in more than two dimensions, unlike crystals which have periodicity in all three dimensions. While crystals can possess only two, three, four, and six-fold rotational symmetries, quasicrystals have other symmetry orders, such as five-fold.
The quasi-periodicity of the quasicrystals leads to two different displacement fields in the material: phonon and phason displacement modes. Gopalakrishnan spoke about his group's work on computing the wavenumber and group-speed of the waves in these two modes in 1, 2 and 3D quasicrystals. His group has also developed characteristic equations to study the variation of wave number and group-speeds in various quasicrystals. ANUPAM PURWAR
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 THE WAXING AND WANING OF LAC RESEARCH IN IISc This article traces the early history of lac research in India and the role of researchers in IISc during
MEGHA PRAKASH AND MANU RAJAN
A scarlet red wax stick being melted and used produce lac. The common host trees for lac to seal envelopes was once a ubiquitous sight insects include Ber (Zizyphus xylopyrus), Ghont in post offices. These handcrafted seals were— (Zizyphus jujuba), Kusum (Schleichera trijuga) and still are—made from lac.
and Palas (Butea frondosa). The word lac is derived from the Sanskrit laksha, referring to Lac is the resinous secretion of a specific group the large number of the tiny insects which of scale insects. Though there are many species swarm the trees. It even finds mention in the of lac insects, the most commonly harvested epic Mahabharata—Duryodhana, the eldest of species in India is Kerria lacca. The larvae of the Kauravas, has a palace called Lakshagraha these insects pierce through the barks of built for his cousins, the Pandavas, in which he particular host trees and suck on their sap to plans to burn them alive1.
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Lac has been used in India for centuries. Lac the hands of rural labourers with scanty means and lac-based products have been used to and little education. The government believed make bangles, as a seal, wood finish, cosmetic, that the farmers neglected the crop when as dyes for wool and silk, and in the food and prices were low and were too often tempted beverages industry. In the early 20th century, to strip the trees of the brood lac when prices shellac—the processed form of lac—was used were high. There were other problems too: the to make gramophone records, ammunition use of unscientific methods in the farming of and electrical goods, and in the paint and lac, local prejudice, careless manufacturing varnish industries.
and adulteration. This prompted the British Government in India in 1920 to conduct a systematic enquiry into the different aspects of lac production and its promotion.
The enquiry was conducted by two government officials, HAF Lindsay and CM Harlow. Based on their investigations, the Lindsay-Harlow Report was published in 19213. It made wide-ranging suggestions, including Lakhera or Laheri, the traditional artisan community still makes lac
"the establishment of some form of research bangles in India
organization" that would "work in close touch with the Forest Department". Based on the When World War I began, demand for recommendations, the Indian Lac Association shellac—particularly in Britain—rose sharply, for Research (ILAR) was formed in 1921 and leading to a steep increase in the price of lac the Indian Lac Research Institute (ILRI) was in India which had a monopoly in the global established in Ranchi in 1924.
market with lac exports that were, at the time, valued at Rs. 3 crores2. Because of its use in Based on the recommendations, the Indian
ammunition, shellac had been accorded the Lac Association for Research (ILAR) was
formed in 1921 and the Indian Lac Research
status of an industry of strategic importance. Institute (ILRI) was established in Ranchi in
But the wide fluctuation in the prices of shellac had exposed it to serious competition from other substitutes. Besides, cultivation was in Lac Research Gains Ground in IISc
recommendations were being considered for implementation in 1921, JJ Sudborough, the first head of the Department of General and Organic Chemistry in IISc, and HE Watson, a professor in the same department, had been researching the purification of lac Lac accumulating on the bark of a host plant
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 and distillation of sandalwood oil. Another produced by the lac insect, and studied the researcher from IISc who worked on lac was extraction of lac-dye. Two other researchers, Gilbert Fowler, a sanitary chemist and professor CR Somayajulu and M Rangaswami, also in the Department of Applied Chemistry, who contributed to the study of host plants. Later had earlier obtained a patent4 for inventing entrants into lac research included BH Krishna, an improved process for obtaining pure who studied the nutrition of the lac insect, shellac from stick-lac (a stick with loads of and MA Qadir who perfected a technique for eggs covered in lac). At IISc, Fowler worked on bleaching lac and the utilization of lac dust.
lac with S Mahdihassan and M Sreenivasaya, deputed to the Institute by the Governments of Hyderabad and Mysore respectively. The three of them jointly published a series of papers experiments, field investigations on lac were titled "Contributions to the Scientific Study of carried out in Lal Bagh, a farm in Hebbal and the Lac Industry" in 10 parts in the Journal of in the campus of IISc. The main experimental the Indian Institute of Science in 1924.
site, however, was a plantation with jalari trees adjoining the village of Doraisanipalya near Mahdihassan, an entomologist, studied the Bannerghatta, 6 miles south of Bangalore. anatomy and physiology of the lac insect. Here, records of the number of broods of He succeeded in identifying the special lac insects per year and the outturn of stick- glands that produced the various substances lac per crop were meticulously maintained. found in stick-lac, including wax and resins. Facilities were created in the Institute campus Mahdihassan also studied the sex-ratio (which for the technical preparation of seed-lac and varied widely under different conditions) of the lac-dye—a set of concrete tanks that were insect and found a way to determine the sex of originally constructed for the treatment of the larva at an early stage in its development. effluent from the fermentation process for Besides his own research, he translated an production of acetone, and located adjoining important monograph by B Hautefeuille, Lac the Department of Applied Chemistry, were and its Industrial Treatment in Indo-China, from modified to serve as washing tanks for stick- French to English. lac. The services provided by the Governments of Mysore and Hyderabad also facilitated lac Sreenivasaya, on the other hand, carried out research in the Institute: Leslie C Coleman, the investigations to determine how the food of Director of the Department of Agriculture of the insect was converted into lac. Mahdihassan Mysore and a member of the Governing Council and Sreenivasaya were assisted by RD Rege and of IISc, offered the facilities in his department DN Gupta, students in the newly established for the benefit of the Institute's researchers; Department of Biochemistry; Rege worked the Government of Hyderabad made available on the chemical composition and physical two artists who produced a large number of characteristics of the host plants, while Gupta coloured drawings of characteristic lac cell investigated the chemistry of resins and waxes formations and parasites.
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Interaction with Industry
instituted in his honour for the best PhD thesis Lac researchers in the Institute interacted with from the Department of Microbiology and Cell local industries for the preparation of lac-based products. The Channapatna Lacquer Works collaborated with IISc for the manufacture The setting up of ILRI in Ranchi resulted in a
of lacquer, a glossy material used for surface number of researchers from IISc moving there
coating of wood. Sreenivasaya perfected a Though the strategic significance of lac waned method to produce commercial crude lac- over time, it continued to be an important dye which also resulted in the making of a commodity. Lac harvesting still impacts the certain kind of French Polish, a wood finish livelihood of a sizable section of the tribal that became prized by connoisseurs of population of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, woodworking. This polish was tested by the Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. These lac farmers Mysore Railways successfully; after the testing, are engaged in the cultivation and processing its large scale production by a private firm was of lac, and interested in new ways of combating seriously considered. The Institute staff also pests and increasing production. The early wrote several articles on lac products in the 2nd pioneering work on lac by researchers from edition of the Munitions Board Handbook (a IISc was built upon in successive decades by handbook on Industrial Chemistry). ILRI. In 2007, the research areas of ILRI were broadened, and it was renamed as the Indian Downturn in IISc
Institute of Natural Resins and Gums. The setting up of ILRI in Ranchi resulted in a number of researchers from IISc moving there. The content of the article is based primarily on ILRI's first Director was Dorothy Norris, who information available in the Annual Reports of IISc earlier had a brief stint with the Department of (1916-17; 1918-19; 1919-20; 1920-21; 1922-23; 1923- Applied Chemistry at IISc, where she worked 24; 1924-25; 1926-27; 1928-29; 1930-31; 1932-33) on fermentation of alcohol, lactic acid and acetic acid. DN Gupta and M Rangaswami Other references: were appointed as Chemical Assistants. M 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakshagraha Venugopalan, whose work was focused on 2. General Introduction by Gilbert Fowler, the washing and bleaching of lac, and S Contributions to the scientific study of the lac industry, Journal of the Indian Institute of Science, Ranganathan, a student in the Department Vol. 7, Part VII, p. 97-103 of Biochemistry who had worked with 3. Report on Lac and Shellac, HAF Lindsay and LM Sreenivasaya, joined ILRI as Field Chemists. Harlow, The Indian Forest Records, Vol. viii, Part I, Sreenivasaya, though, opted to continue in IISc. He was appointed as a lecturer in the 4. Process for obtaining pure shellac from stick-lac or Institute in 1941 and became the head of the like, Patent No. US 975224 A, Gilbert J. Fowler (1910); www.google.com/patents/US975224 the Fermentation Technology Unit in the 5. Souvenir: A Glimpse of the 75 Years (1940-2015), Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry a Department of Molecular Biology and Cell Biology, year later. An annual memorial award has been Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 AND THE WINNERS ARE… Members of the IISc community who were recently honoured with awards
Professor, Computer Professor, Centre for Science and Automation, Neuroscience, Shanti
Prof. Satish Dhawan
Swarup Bhatnagar Prize
Young Engineer Award,
Government of Karnataka Gadadhar Misra
Professor, Department of Professor, Department Inorganic and Physical of Mathematics, Chemistry, Indian
Mathematician of the
Society of Chemists and
year, Ponnala Foundation
Biologists Award for
jointly with NIT Warangal Aditya Garai
Student, Department of Professor, Department of Inorganic and Physical Electrical Communication Chemistry, Gandhi
SVC Aiya Award for
Excellence in Telecom
Education & Osmania
University College of Engineering
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Sai Siva Gorthi
Department of Associate Professor, Instrumentation and Department of Electrical Applied Physics, ISOI
Engineering, Prof. Satish
Dhawan Young Engineer
Award, Government of
Instrumentation Society of India Diptiman Sen
Professor, Centre for High Professor, Molecular Energy Physics, JC Bose
Biophysics Unit, JC Bose
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Campus Critters
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2 Department of Mathematics
Connect Volume 3 • Issue 2
Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Pediatric Abstract and Poster Competition Hilton Hotel- MOA/MSP Bloomington, MN Medical Student Roma Patel What does that lab really mean? MSV Matthew Armfield, Introduction: Ovarian masses in the pre-pubertal population are concerning