Excellence in PhD Research!

Message from Prof. Murali Sastry, CEO:

“It is a matter of immense pride that 5 of the Academy students have been selected for the “Excellence in PhD Research” Award and will receive this honour at the hands of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, during the Convocation on 11 August, 2018. They are :

  • Dr. Ramakrishna Bairi
  • Dr. Vignesh Kuduva
  • Dr. Jayesh Sonawane
  • Dr. Subhadeep Das
  • Dr. Jhumur Banerjee

On behalf of the entire IITB-Monash Research Academy, I’d like to congratulate all of the award winners and wish them the very best as they set out on their careers.

Alumnus invents tough, metal alloy

Four times stronger than stainless steel, a unique alloy blends chromium, cobalt, iron, manganese and silicon.

It’s not Black Panther’s vibranium or Captain America’s proto-adamantium shield, but a new alloy has come pretty close.

Our alumnus, a University of North Texas researcher Saurabh Nene has been working with UNT’s College of Engineering Department of Materials Science and Engineering to mix and flow material simultaneously, giving the alloy new strength.

The alloy, which has no catchy name like its fictional counterparts, is created by melting and casting the materials, then taking the thin, flat mold to start “friction stirring,” Nene said.

Nene, who has been working on this piece of research for eight months, said the process intensely deforms the metal’s makeup by forcibly inserting a rotating tool into the cold metal.

“When you insert the tool in the metal, it generates frictional heat,” Nene said “When you move the tool ahead, it starts mixing the metal. The mixing and flow of the metal creates an intense deformation.”

The only problem with using Nene’s alloys commercially is the cost. While he said he could not estimate that exactly, he is trying to change the chemistry of the alloy to replace the cobalt element. For reference, cobalt costs $78,500 per ton. Iron costs $65.

“We are still trying to look for a good substitute that is not costly but can have the same result,” Nene said. “The main goal is to maintain the properties.”

Nene, alongside lab colleagues Michael Frank, Kaimiao Liu, Brandon McWilliams and Kyu Cho of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Maryland, published a report July 2 in the online journal Scientific Reports.

A paper related to the topic was also published in the journal in November 2017.

Convalesce in the news!

Message from Prof. Murali Sastry, CEO:

“It is with immense pleasure and pride that I inform all of you that the first startup from the Academy, Convalesce, has been selected for the Acceleration Program of IndieBio this summer 2018. IndieBio is the world’s leading life science accelerator based in San Francisco providing the best support silicon valley can offer to core biotech startups. IndieBio is backed by the venture SOSV.

Each team receives $250,000 in seed funding, lab and co-working space, dedicated mentorship, and becomes part of a huge network of IndieBio alumni, investors, biotech entrepreneurs, investors, press, corporate partners, and more. Founders engage with customers and partners, pitch to investors, and turn science into a real product people pay for.

Twice a year, IndieBio typically accepts 15 startups worldwide for their acceleration program, which lasts approximately 4 months. The aim is to close the distance between science and money.

As you all know, Subhadeep Das, an alumnus of the Academy, is the brains, heart and soul behind this startup and has pursued the dream of being an entrepreneur with single minded dedication. I am personally of the opinion that the future of Indian business and indeed, science and innovation, will be driven by startups such as Convalesce. This is a moment to be cherished by us all and marks an important milestone in the journey of the Academy. Such achievements in technology, science and business will determine what impact the IITB-Monash Research Academy has not just in India and Australia but globally.

Subhadeep – on behalf of the entire Academy, please accept my warmest congratulations, and best wishes in translating your dreams into reality”.

Best Poster Presenter Award from IITB


Vibhuti Chhabra presented a poster titled “Thermochemical conversion of mixed municipal solid wastes” at the Chemference conference held at IITB from 18th to 20th May’18. She participated in the 3MTT competition and won the best presenter award. The poster presented the mechanism of the pyrolysis of MSW. The results were obtained from the experiments conducted at the Australian Synchrotron and Monash University. Her research project is being sponsored by JSW.

Research scholars win second spot in Poster Slam

Research scholars win second spot in Poster Slam

Research scholars Anurag Parihar and Vibhuti Chhabra secured the second prize in the poster slam competition at the Australian Synchrotron-User Meeting 2016 held at Australian Synchrotron, Melbourne, on November 24 and 25, 2016. Vibhuti is a research scholar with the IITB-Monash Research Academy, while Anurag is a PhD student in the Department of Chemical Engineering of Monash University working on conversion of biomass to platform chemicals.

Their poster, titled ‘Thermochemical conversion of wastes to liquid fuel and platform chemicals’, presented their ongoing PhD work and the results obtained from the experiments conducted at the Australian Synchrotron and Monash University.

Globally, the volume of waste generated from urban centres of the world is around 1,300 million tonnes per year (1.2 kg/capita/day) which is expected to rise to 2,200 million tonnes per year by 2025.

Wastes such as biomass and mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) can be valorised into useful products ranging from platform chemicals to oil — using thermochemical processes like pyrolysis. However, pyrolysis is influenced by various parameters like temperature, heating rate, residence time, pressure, catalyst and type of feedstock.

Anurag and Vibhuti investigated the thermal breakdown of biomass and MSW under different heating rates to study the feasibility of formation of intended products—viz. oil (from MSW) and platform chemicals (from biomass). Additionally, they also studied the effect of acid (as catalyst) impregnation on biomass during pyrolysis, and found that various aliphatic and aromatic functional groups identified in their study during thermal degradation of MSW prove its suitability for bio-oil production.

Vibhuti’s supervisors are Prof Yogendra Shastri and Prof Sankar Bhattacharya, while Anurag’s are Prof Sankar Bhattacharya and Prof Gil Garnier.

Congratulations, Vibhuti and Anurag!


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