National Science Day 2020—A Curtain Raiser

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President to award science communicators & women scientists on National Science Day

“WOMEN IN SCIENCE” — the focal theme of the National Science Day (NSD) 2020

National Science Day (NSD) will be celebrated at Vigyan Bhawan on February 28 with women in science as the focal theme of the programme. President Ram Nath Kovind will present several awards for science communication and popularization as well as for women scientists.

A total of 21 awards will be given which will include National Science and Technology and Communication Awards, Augmenting Writing Skills For Articulating Research (AWSAR) awards, SERB Women Excellence Awards and National Award For Young Woman Showing Excellence Through Application Of Technology For Societal Benefits.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Science & Technology, Health and Family Welfare and Earth Sciences and Smriti Irani, Cabinet Minister for Textiles and Women & Child Development will also grace the occasion.

NSD is celebrated every year on 28 February to commemorate the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’. Government of India designated 28 February as National Science Day (NSD) in 1986. On this day, Sir C.V. Raman announced the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’ for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930. On this occasion, theme-based science communication activities are carried out all over the country.

The occasion will include a lecture of eminent scientist Prof Gagandeep Kang, Director of the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad who is first women FRS of India to talk on the theme of the NSD-2020.

NSD Theme has been chosen for the purpose of increasing public appreciation of the scientific issues involved. Celebrations of important Scientific Days with associated events bring scientific awareness in the community. Many institutions organize open house for their laboratories and appraise students about career opportunities available in a particular research laboratory/institution.

National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science and Technology (DST) acts as a nodal agency to support, catalyze and coordinate celebration of the National Science Day throughout the country in scientific institutions, research laboratories and autonomous scientific institutions associated with the Department of Science and Technology. NCSTC has supported various programmes countrywide by supporting its State S&T Councils & Departments for organization of lectures, quizzes, open houses, etc.

DST instituted National Awards for Science Popularization in February 1987 to stimulate, encourage and recognize outstanding efforts in the area of science and technology for popularization, communication and promoting scientific temper. These awards are presented every year on National Science Day.

The following are brief details of some of the awardees:

NATIONAL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORTS IN SCIENCE &

TECHNOLOGY COMMUNICATION THROUGH PRINT MEDIA

INCLUDING BOOKS AND MAGAZINES

Dr. Suryamani Behera, Retd. Professor and Popular Science Writer, Odisha
Prof. Suryamani Behra has been recognized as an excellent popular writer both in Odia and English languages. He is continuously writing articles and books for more than thirty years. He has published more than forty one books and more than

a thousand published articles. His latest books “Vigyan Ru Gyana”, “Jantra Karuchi Mantra”, “Vigyan Sahitya Darpan”, “Bigyan Mela” and books on Medicinal Plants cultivation have become very popular. Articles on Food Processing and Preservation are his notable contributions which are followed by many people as a help to cottage industry. He has also established Janapriya Vigyan Manch to impart training to budding popular science writers & Journalists.

Dr. Amiya Rajbongshi, Retd. Vice Principal, North Lakhimpur College (Autonomous), Rector, Genius Academy, Lakhimpur, Assam
Dr. Rajbongshi’s science communication efforts are extended for dissemination of science to masses through print media and popular talks. A regular writer for almost all science magazines and prestigious newspapers of Assam, she has published 396 scientific articles and authored popular science books from NBT, India, Assam Publication Board and Assam Science Society. As President of Lakhimpur Science Society and of Assam Science Writers’ Association, besides organizing many programmes for science communication, she has published 12 books on popular science and co-authored 25 books. She also wrote on Lives & Activities of Nobel Laureates on Physiology or Medicine in three volumes.

NATIONAL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORTS IN SCIENCE &

TECHNOLOGY POPULARIZATION AMONG CHILDREN

Sh. Deepak Sharma, Science Teacher, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh
Shri Deepak Sharma, a science teacher in N.A.S. Inter College, Meerut is popular amongst the students for last 30 years. He made science easier and interesting by relating it to day to day life activities. Science based reality show-Vigyan Ghar and science channel ‘Vigyan Aao Karke Sikhe’ and his own science magazine, are some of his key achievements. The experiments measuring distance between the Earth and the Sun during transit of Venus and the circumstance of the Earth and Analemma Sun dial made him very popular. He also continues to inspire people to work as a resource person for science communication.

Kisan Sewa Sansthan, Dist. Basti, Uttar Pradesh
Kisan Sewa Sansthan (KSS) is a pioneer in spreading and developing scientific temper among children in the Uttar Pradesh and spreading scientific awareness using a variety of unique tools and techniques for delivering benefit to various section of society. With this aim they reached the masses through their trainings, campaigns, lectures, orientations and workshops with specific initiatives like, communicating science through puppetry and explaining science behind so called miracles. KSS has coordinated and supported with its own resources the students from villages to visit DST’s Science Express at various railway stations in UP. It popularized science among millions of rural and urban children through Science Express, science fairs and melas, science debates, talks, essay competitions, science inspire tours, community radio programmes notably Chalo Gaon Ki Aur, and also the Mobile Science Exhibition Bus (MSE) for school students and people at large.

NATIONAL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORTS IN SCIENCE &

TECHNOLOGY COMMUNICATION THROUGH INNOVATIVE AND

TRADITIONAL METHODS

Dr. Mahesh Verma, Vice Chancellor, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi
Prof. Mahesh Verma is the Vice-Chancellor of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. He has been instrumental in promoting the scientific temperament and awareness among students, youth, health professionals and community at large as he has organized Dental Health Melas for over 25 years, dental camps in schools and underserved areas and initiated Mobile Dental Clinic Project with six mobile Dental vans for rural areas in 3 districts of Delhi to bring about awareness for masses. Dr. Verma has authored many books and appeared in more than 150 programmes on TV, Radio and contributed press articles and media reports bringing education and scientific awareness about dental health. He established the Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, for education, patient care and awareness. As past President of the Indian Dental Association, Dr. Verma led over 75,000 Dental professionals in community directed projects such as Tobacco cessation, Oral Cancer Awareness & many more.

Dr. S. Nagarathinam, Prof. and Head, Dept. of Communication, Madurai Kamaraj University, Tamil Nadu
Dr. S. Nagarathinam studied Science Communication, worked in popular Tamil- Daily Dinamalar and wrote science articles regularly since 1996 and tireless connected the scientific world with common people particularly through innovative and traditional methods. He introduced a Daily Science Column, published till-today. He has been popularizing and communicating S&T related to water bodies, rivers, tanks, ponds and eco-sites among youth and communities. His efforts culminated into pan India mobilization of Groups of Experts & volunteers, especially the Eco Vision Indica, to help protect natural ecological resources. These efforts also resulted in thousands of seed plantings of Palmyra Palm─ an eco-friendly and alternative resource to plastics. Overall, he made outstanding efforts using Ecological places as a creative medium and building peoples’ every day understanding of Nature by communicating S&T of a wide transdisciplinary range and in-depth knowledge as a people’s professor through Field Immersive Innovative Models, practices, outreach, fostering communities of learning, and special interest groups, for a far reaching visible impact.

Dr. Rajendra Kumar, Principal Scientist, ICAR-IARI
Prof Rajendra Kumar, an agricultural scientist, has made an outstanding contribution in popularization of science & technology through several innovative & traditional approaches. He has published 7 books, 116 research articles, more than 100 popular articles, 28 volumes of newsletters, more than 500 newspaper articles, delivered more than 100 television-radio talks along with more than 150 conference lectures, numerous poster presentations, and more than 500 public lectures. He popularised science among children, women, illiterate elderly people in rural, urban & sub-urban localities by organizing more than 180 Goshthees, corner / roadside meetings & Chaupals in/at farmers field, village ponds, fish ponds, grain threshing places, sugarcane cutting places, cattle sheds, Primary/Junior/High schools, through UPAAS, ISGBRD, SRDA, SSSD, etc. in English, Hindi & Vernacular languages leaving very large impact across the state/nation. He has been instrumental in motivating students, teachers, scientists and general public in popular science reading, writing, and utilization at learning centres, and outreach activities and created a significant spread over 75 districts of

Uttar Pradesh demonstrating a typical “Boom – Bust” cycle.

NATIONAL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORTS IN SCIENCE &

TECHNOLOGY COMMUNICATION IN THE ELECTRONIC MEDIUM

Dr. Uma Kumar, Professor & Head, Department of Rheumatology, All India Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi
She has created an indelible mark in the area of popularising medical science amongst the masses through electronic media. She has participated in more than 100 health programmes on national TV channels and radio, apart from writing innumerable articles in magazines and newspapers about rheumatic diseases, and publishing easy to understand booklets in Hindi & English in electronic form to increase awareness about autoimmune diseases, air pollution, role of physical activities and right postures. She has delivered more than 300 lectures for physicians, specialists, schools, and general public to increase awareness about non-communicable diseases and conducted workshops in schools and organizations involved in rehabilitation of underprivileged youth to propagate health science and awareness about musculoskeletal health. She participated in medical camps in tribal and remote areas like Leh Ladakh, Kargil,, UP, Chhattisgarh etc.

AUGMENTING WRITING SKILLS FOR ARTICULATING RESEARCH

(AWSAR)

Ms. Chris Felshia, Ph.D. Scholar from CLRI -Central leather research institute, Chennai, is purusing her research on “Microbial Mediated Management of Phenol and its Derivatives in Aqueous and soil phase: An approach using free and encapsulated cells”. Her popular science story entitled “Baci-The Fight For Our Planet” has been selected for AWSAR Award.

Dr Joyita Sarkar, Post Doctoral Fellow from Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, Maharashtra, is pursuing her research on “Development of Novel Strategy for Stem Cell Differentiation to Hepatocyte Using Combined Approach of Epigenetic Modification and 3D Cell Culture Scaffold for Applications in Pharmaco-Toxicological Studies”. Her popular science story entitled “COMING SOON: ANIMAL MODEL-FREE SYSTEM FOR PHARMACEUTICAL TESTING” has been selected for AWSAR Award.

SERB WOMEN EXCELLENCE AWARD

Dr. Niti Kumar, Scientist, Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Dr. Niti Kumar is a biologist, working as an independent group leader in CSIR Central Drug Research Institute (CSIR-CDRI), Lucknow. Her research is focused towards understanding protein quality control machinery in human malaria parasite for exploration of alternative drug targets for malaria intervention. She is also involved in antimalarial screening for identification of scaffolds effective against drug-resistant malaria. She received her Ph.D. from CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi. From 2009 -2013, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Munich, Germany. She is recipient of various National and International award/fellowships such as Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award (IYBA-2015), Ramalingaswami Fellowship, INSA Young Scientist award, EMBO Postdoctoral, Humboldt and Marie Curie fellowships.

Dr. Deepa Agashe, Assistant Professor (Reader F), National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore, Karnataka

Dr. Deepa Agashe is a biologist, working at the interface of evolutionary biology, ecology, and molecular biology. Using diverse tools such as experimental evolution, genomics, molecular analyses and phylogenetics, she aims to understand how bacteria and insects adapt to new environments. Dr. Agashe received her Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Abasaheb Garware College (University of Pune) in 2003, followed by a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, USA in 2009. Her thesis work showed that genetic diversity can stabilize animal populations and facilitate adaptation to new niches. During her postdoctoral work at Harvard University, USA, she proved that so-called “silent” mutations can actually have enormous effects on bacterial evolution. In 2012, she returned to India to lead a research group at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS–TIFR), where her team is dedicated to unravelling the causes and mechanisms of evolution.

Dr. K. Geetharani, Assistant Professor, Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka
Dr. Geetharani is an inorganic chemist and her research focuses mainly on the development of cost effective, earth abundant, less toxic base metal catalysts or main group catalysts for the synthesis of organoboranes, which are important synthetic intermediates in pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, liquid crystals, and organic light emitting diodes. She obtained her Ph.D. from Indian Institute of Technology Madras in 2012 and carried out postdoctoral research at University of Wurzburg, Germany. She began her independent research career as Assistant Professor at Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, India, in 2016. She is a recipient of DST-Inspire Faculty Award, Young Associate-Indian Academy of Sciences, INSA-Young Scientist medal and NASI-Young Scientist Platinum Jubilee Award.

NATIONAL AWARD FOR YOUNG WOMAN SHOWING EXCELLENCE

THROUGH APPLICATION OF TECHNOLOGY FOR SOCIETAL BENEFITS

Dr. Shweta Rawat, Scientist E, Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences ( DIPAS), DRDO, Delhi
A female specific Full Body Protector (बला) to safeguard the Female troops deployed in riot control actions has first time been developed by Dr. Rawat and her team. This gear has been developed in collaboration with the Rapid Action Force using the ergonomic design principle based on anthropometric dimensions specific for female troops. The full Body Protector has unique properties of antistab, anti puncture, flame retardant and acid resistant. It is designed to assure greater comfort and flexibility to the women forces while deployed in law and order maintenance duties.

Gupta Dr. Shalini, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi
Dr. Gupta has successfully led the development of a technology SeptifloTM, which offers fast and affordable assay for point-of-care diagnosis and treatment of bacterial septicaemia, which is one of the biggest in-hospital killers worldwide. This has led to the incubation of the start up Nano DX Healthcare Pvt. Ltd. She is pursuing unconventional approaches to design novel bio-systems for medical diagnosis, drug delivery and biomaterials fabrication on a chip. A prototype diagnostic kit, using naturally-amplified pathogen derived endotoxins for early bedside diagnosis of bacteremia has been developed, which is currently undergoing clinical trial. In drug delivery systems, cancer and bacterial therapies have been combined into a single delivery platform in order to co-eliminate cancer and bacterial infections residing inside cancer.

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