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Why women continue to be under-represented in academic careers?

1931 - A time when most women were aspiring to become a successful wife, mother or daughter, Dr. E.K. Janaki Ammal was already setting an example by being an early Indian woman doctorate in basic sciences from the University of Michigan. A competent botanist and geneticist, her seminal work on sugarcane varieties and genetics of flowering plants are recognised to this day. She was a fierce environmental activist and taught Botany at the Women’s Christian College, Chennai. In recognition of her contributions to the field of botany, she was elected as a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy in 1957, was awarded the Padmashri in 1977, and was herself a founding Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1935.She also served as the Director General of the Botanical Survey of India, and even has a flower named after her -- Magnolia Kobus Janaki Ammal! She was indeed a symbol of inspiration to many girls and women of her age.

 

Scientists observe structure within the pulses of a Millisecond Pulsar

Indian astronomers have detected microstructure emissions from a millisecond pulsar for the first time. Millisecond pulsars (MSP) are highly magnetized, rapidly rotating neutron stars that take as little as one-thousandth to one-hundredth of a second to rotate about its axis once. In a recently published study, scientists from the Department of Physics at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR), have discovered these microstructure emissions using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), an array of thirty antennae scanning the sky for radio sources. They are now uncovering the processes that produce these microstructure emissions. While similar emissions had been discovered from more slowly rotating pulsars, this is the first time they have been discovered coming from millisecond pulsars.

 

Scientists develop novel methodology to study temperature controlled gene function

Genetic research is at a colossal high today, and although we know a lot about our genes, the roles of more than 30% of the functional genes in the human body are not really understood. This number can be even lower for other members of the biotic world. Studies to determine gene function involve combinations of various experimental methods at biochemical, cellular, and organismal levels. One such method, that is popularly employed, uses temperature-sensitive mutant genes that behave differently at different temperatures. The process of identifying and generating mutated genes, however, is laborious, time-consuming and relies heavily on chance. It is at this juncture that Prof. Raghavan Varadarajan and his team from the Molecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, suggest an innovative, yet fairly straightforward, technique to study gene functionality, which would make one wonder how no one thought of this earlier!

Brain research in India gets a helping hand from a dying wish

Late Ms. Sharawaree Gokhale, IAS (Retd)

The Centre for Brain Research (CBR) at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, received a generous endowment from former IAS officer Ms. Sharwaree Gokhale who passed away on 15th January 2016. In her will, Ms. Gokhale donated a major portion of her estate to CBR. Her contribution would help progress our understanding of the most complex organ that we know of - the human brain.

DNA damage in sperm alters Embryo Metabolism, finds study

Science has established that the father’s sperm, which fertilizes the mother’s ovum resulting in the formation of an embryo, decides the sex of an individual. So it’s only logical that if the ‘male factor’ of the sperm/ovum relationship is damaged, the product will be too. Now, a recent collaborative study by a team of researchers led by Prof. Hanudatta Atreya of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and Prof. Satish Kumar Adiga of Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, has found that if the sperm, set to fertilize a particular ovum, has damaged DNA, it affects the metabolism of the embryo that it fathers. The study was conducted using samples of sperm and ova from couples undergoing Intra-Cytoplamic Sperm Injection (ICSI), a popular technique to help infertile couples conceive.

 

Prof. Prabeer Barpanda – A positively charged academician

Not many young professors are as driven as Professor Prabeer Barpanda who has been donned with an unbelievable streak of academic awards. A professor at the Materials Research Centre, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Prof. Barpanda is the winner of the Indian National Science Academy Young Scientist Award, 2016. He became the first Indian to receive the Energy Technology Division Supramaniam Srinivasan Young Investigator Award – an annual award given by the Electrochemical Society (ECS), USA, for 2016. In addition, he is also the first Indian to receive the American Ceramics Society’s Ross Coffin Purdy Award, 2016 awarded in October.

Chandan Saha – A Computer Scientist with an eye for Mathematics

Chandan Saha of the Computer Science and Automation department, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru is the winner of two prestigious national awards – the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) Young Scientist Award, 2016, and the Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) Young Engineer Award, 2016. He works in the areas of complexity theory and algorithms, and his lab is currently trying to study arithmetic circuits to understand computational efficiency as a function of time and computational memory.

Scientists design better techniques to grow crystals that imitate the hues of Nature

The vivid and myriad colours of the natural world captivate our eyes and benefit life on earth. Learning how nature colours its palette advances our understanding of the world around us and hence scientists ubiquitously are trying to imitate designs inspired by nature, to fabricate better devices. Now, a collaborative study between researchers at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru, and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, has proposed a novel technique to build better display devices that imitate naturally occurring colours.

Professor Praveen Kumar - A materials scientist with an eye for detail

Dropped your mobile phone? You may soon stop worrying about it, thanks to the newly discovered phenomena related to carbon nanotube foam used as a shock-absorbent material in mobile phones. As a material scientist, Prof. Praveen Kumar’s work on studying the mechanical behaviour of materials has earned him various awards, the most recent ones being the Indian National Science Academy Young Scientist Award, 2016, National Academy of Science, India -Young Scientist Platinum Jubilee awards - 2016 and Associate of Indian Academy of Science. In his Thermo-Electro-Mechanical Behaviour Lab at the Department of Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Prof. Kumar and his students study the effects of size and electric fields on mechanical properties of materials and materials processing.

IISc, Volvo collaborate to advance the automotive industry.

Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Volvo group in India to pursue collaborative research in the field of transportation and automobiles. As per the MoU, Volvo Group Trucks Technology (GTT), the global research, engineering and development arm of Volvo, along with IISc, will embark on research and development in future automotive technologies. The MoU was signed by Dr. K. Paneer Selvam, Joint Registrar of IISc and Dr. Jan-Ove Östensen, VP Advanced Technology & Research, Volvo Group.

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