Two IIT Madras Professors Chosen for the Prestigious ‘Swarnajayanti Fellowship’ of DST

Chennai: Two faculty from Indian Institute of Technology Madras have been selected for the prestigious ‘Swarnajayanti Fellowship’ Awards for 2019-20 given by Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. These professors were among the only 21 researchers in India to have been selected for this recognition.

Prof. Prabhu Rajagopal, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras, was selected under ‘Engineering Science’ discipline. Dr. P. Anbarasan, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, IIT Madras, was selected under ‘Chemical Science’ discipline.

Under this scheme, a select number of young scientists, with proven track record, are provided special assistance and support to enable them to pursue basic research in frontier areas of science and technology.

Thanking the DST, Prof. Prabhu Rajagopal, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras, said, “As the world races towards quantum supremacy, sound-based analogues of currently prevalent technologies are increasingly attractive as they can access a wide range of phenomena and also harness waste heat more naturally. Grateful to the DST for recognizing the breakthrough potential of my work in Quantum Phononics. The prestigious Swarnajayanti Fellowship award is an important milestone and is sure to help seek wider support and scale up this effort.”

Further, Dr. Prabhu Rajagopal said, “I thank my colleagues, mentors and the leadership at IIT Madras for putting in place mechanisms whereby cutting-edge research and technology translation impacting society positively are nurtured. I am also deeply indebted to my family for constant support and students who through their zeal and energy, make this journey memorable.”

The research areas of focus for Prof. Prabhu Rajagopal include:

Ø Bulk, waveguide and Quantum Phononics

Ø Remote inspection of practical structures using waveguide and robotic approaches

Ø Gesamtkunstwerk in the context of engineering design

Ø Large scale inspection data management using Blockchain and analytics

Among the major projects Prof. Prabhu Rajagopal is currently involved in include:

Ø Development of robotic tools for automated intervention in septic tanks and sewer lines, projects supported by CSR grants from Gas Authority of India Limited and Capgemini Technology Services India Limited

Ø Development of Autonomous Surface Vehicle for Mapping Marine Environment and Water Quality in shallow coastal waters, supported by Ministry of Shipping and Major Ports of India (Laboratory demonstrations completed, translational efforts initiated)

Ø Development of Blockchain-based solution of tracking contagious disease and renovation of healthcare infrastructure (CSR grant from Infosys Limited) repurposing this research into Blockchain for support with the COVID-19 outbreak (pending approvals for trials)

Ø Development of Phononic metamaterial-based insets to protect sensitive installations from harmful surface and seismic disturbances, supported by Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) R&D India.

The Fellowships are scientist specific and not institution specific, very selective and have close academic monitoring. The Government of India instituted the ‘Swarnajayanti Fellowships’ to commemorate India’s 50 years of Independence.

Thanking the DST, Dr. P. Anbarasan, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, IIT Madras, said, “The Swarnajayanti Fellowship is an important milestone in anyone’s research career. This fellowship will help us to strengthen our research activities on the development of novel synthetic techniques for the construction of chiral intermediates/molecules of therapeutic importance in its enantiopure form. I take this opportunity to thank my esteemed mentors, well-wishers and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras for their unconditional support. I also thank my beloved students, who are the pillars of my research, for their commitment and hard work.”

The research areas of focus for Dr. P. Anbarasan include:

Ø Functionalization of metallocarbenes

Ø Asymmetric synthesis of pharmaceutical intermediates

Ø Conversion of biomass to value-added products

Ø Targeted synthesis of drug molecules

Among the major projects Dr. P. Anbarasan is currently involved in are the design and development of chiral ligands and catalysts for transition metal catalysis and organocatalysis. These research findings will help achieve sustainable, efficient, and selective asymmetric transformation for the synthesis of biologically and therapeutically important chiral intermediates, lead molecules and natural products. This will immensely benefit the chemical and pharmaceutical industries and eventually to human well-being.

The award consists of a Fellowship of Rs. 25,000/- per month in addition to the salary drawn from the parent Institute along with a Research Grant of Rs 5 lakh per annum by Department of Science and Technology for a period of five years.

The project submitted by the selected Fellows will be considered for funding by Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) as per norms, for recurring and non-recurring heads. Scientists selected for the award will be allowed to pursue unfettered research with a freedom and flexibility in terms of expenditure as approved in the research plan. The project should contain innovative research idea and it should have a potential of making an impact on R&D in the discipline.

 

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