Microscopic Gardening Wins Image of the Year 2018


Microscopic Gardening: Tiny Blossoms of Silicon by Vivek Garg has been voted the Australian National Fabrication Facility- Victoria Node (ANFF-VIC) Image of the Year 2018 by Melbourne Centre for Nano-fabrication (MCN).

The image shows a scanning electron micrograph (false-color) of Silicon (Si) nanoflowers, created using MCN’s Focused Ion Beam (FIB) in conjunction with wet chemical etching.

Vivek and his colleagues are investigating fabrication of 3D freeform structures of Si, such as these nanoflowers, due to their unique optical properties. Such structures can be engineered for multicolor generation through selective absorption of light and have tremendous potential for future optics offering unique opportunities for optical security, polarimetry, spectral imaging applications etc.

“The bulk structuration of Si substrate, based on the ion implantation design and area, allows fabrication of exotic functional and 3D micro/nanostructures on Si substrate exhibiting unique optical properties for applications in nanophotonics and physical sciences,” Vivek explained.

Vivek is a PhD candidate with the IITB-Monash Research Academy, a collaboration between IIT Bombay, India and Monash University, Australia and recipient of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Research Scholarship. He is working with Dr. Rakesh Mote, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay, India and Dr. Jing Fu, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Monash University, Australia on fabrication and controlled manipulation of freeform 3D micro/nanostructures with ion beams. This work is a part of his thesis project FIB nanofabrication and its application in creating novel nanostructures for diverse applications such as anti-reflection, color filters, sensors etc. to name a few.

Read more about Vivek’s work here http://www.vivekgarg.org/

As winner of the competition, Vivek will take home a $200 prize.

MCN Newsletter: http://nanomelbourne.com/newsletter/microscopic-gardening-wins-image-of-the-year-2018/

Radhik Rammohan


Radhik Rammohan

Radhik completed his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from University of Calicut in the year 2012. Following this he served as a Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering Department at the M.S.University of Baroda. He completed his Masters in Engineering from College of Engineering Guindy,Anna University Chennai in the Specialization of Computer Integrated Manufacturing. He secured second rank in the university in his Specialization. He had worked on mathematical modeling and characterization of Nano Finishing Process as part of His Masters Thesis work with Dr Sunil Jha, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Delhi. He has published his research work in Leading international Conferences in the Domain of Manufacturing Engineering. Post his ME studies, He joined as a Production Engineer at Prisms India Private Limited, Pondicherry. After his Stint at Pondicherry, He joined the Robotics Lab at IIT Madras as Project Associate to work in Prof T. Asokan’s Surgical Robotics Research Team. He was instrumental in developing a Haptic Sensor for Force Feedback.
He is working with Prof Maryam Shojaei Baghini ,Department of Electrical Engineering , IIT Bombay alongwith Dr Elahie Abdi and Dr Gita Pendarkar, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,Monash University Australia to solve Develop a Robotic Platform for Pediatric Surgery.


Link to student’s project: IMURA0817


 

Missing Not Dead: The Horrifying Story of Man-made Flood Disasters


We are proud to announce that Antara Dasgupta, our PhD scholar’s popular science story has been selected in the “Top 100” in the DST AWSAR science communication competition.

Read the story below.

Missing Not Dead: The Horrifying Story of Man-made Flood Disasters

Sapna had to choose. Her father was a priest at the popular shrine Kedarnath. The family never saw him after June 15th, 2013. The fateful day when nature decided to raze all signs of human presence from the flood plains of the mighty Mandakini. Over 8,000 cubic meters of water gushed across the valley in about 3 seconds, erasing all signs of an anthropogenic past. His body was never found. Donations from patrons kept the family afloat for a while. The laughable government compensation did little to help their predicament. Especially as her father was missing not dead, compensation was provided accordingly.

When her grief-stricken mother started showing symptoms of a full mental breakdown, Sapna moved closer to her relatives in the valley. The younger siblings, a boy of 17 and an 8 year old girl, could no longer be entrusted to her mother’s care. Soon, the relatives’ empathy and finances dried up. Sapna, now had to find a way to support her family. It was at the precipice of this new endeavour that our paths crossed. We had just started studying for a postgraduate degree in remote sensing, geared towards natural hazard mitigation. As we sat in class for our first day at university in the flood battered state of Uttarkhand, each lecturer described the catastrophic disaster, as a means to stress the significance of our chosen specialization. At the end of the day, I expressed my admiration for Sapna’s apparent insouciance on what was obviously an emotional subject and my heartfelt condolences for losing her father. She looked at me with quiet determination and said, “He’s missing, not dead.”

Scientists agree that the impacts of the “Himalayan Tsunami” of 2013, were intensified by unbridled and unplanned development in the river flood plains. The scale of the tragedy was apparently exacerbated by a monumental failure of inter-agency communication. Warnings were left unheeded, rising water levels in the glacial lake upstream went unreported. State officials delayed taking any action as the “pilgrim season” was underway and closing the gates to the shrine would cost them the precious spoils of tourism. I for one, have never been able come to terms with the fact that most of the deaths from this catastrophe were preventable. It was then that I decided to specialise in hydrometeorological disasters like flooding, determined to work towards more reliable early warning systems.

In pursuit of this arduous but rewarding goal, I was recently able to develop a new semi-automatic flood-mapping algorithm with others from the IITB‑Monash Research Academy, which promises significant improvements in accuracy over existing techniques. The algorithm explicitly utilises patterns of the radar backscatter, which are observed in the image, in addition to the recorded backscatter itself. Specific arrangements of backscatter values in the image are first identified and then optimised by using advanced mathematical techniques to amplify the information content that is used in flood identification. Finally, a fuzzy machine learning algorithm is used to classify the image into flooded and non-flooded areas, which also expresses the level of confidence in the flood mapping at each pixel. Validating flood maps that are generated by using this technique against aerial photographs demonstrated an improvement of almost 54 % in some areas over traditional methods. These results are encouraging as the validation zone also included a notable portion of urban and agricultural land-use.

Urban landforms are, perhaps, the most challenging in radar-based flood detection and, arguably, the most crucial from a flood management perspective. While radar images are widely accepted as the most reliable resource for flood monitoring given their ability to penetrate cloud cover; they are notoriously difficult to interpret and are affected by a variety of uncertainties. Urban and vegetated landscapes, which present an inherently large number of potential scatterers to the radar beam, often result in complex images. Therefore, to arrive at any practicable intelligence, radar-based flood maps generated using automated methods often require post-processing by experts, trained in the physical principles of radar backscattering mechanisms. Automatic image processing chains have recommended the use of supporting datasets such as distance or height above the closest river channels, and land-use and cover information to enhance the accuracy of flood mapping. However, in developing countries where such ancillary information is seldom available with reasonable accuracy, this approach could potentially revolutionize rescue and response operations.

While disaster preparedness has evidently improved, given that the number of fatalities caused by floods of similar magnitudes has declined over the years, what has been accomplished is not nearly enough to cope with the increasing intensity and frequency of weather-related disasters under a rapidly changing climate. This is evident especially in cascading disasters such as flooding, when the rainfall event often leads to landslides, cutting off transport access and communication in the affected areas. If the downstream consequences such as waterborne diseases and the mental trauma suffered by flood-affected communities are also considered, floods can be viewed as the single most devastating natural disaster worldwide.

During the initial rescue and response operations, localised information on the whereabouts of flooding is critical in the ensuring of effective regional prioritisation and efficient resource allocation. However, one can intuitively imagine that travelling into flood-affected areas to gather such information during the event is far from safe. Satellite imagery is an attractive and cost-effective alternative to observing the inundated area synoptically. This can facilitate the planning of evacuation strategies and optimise the often limited resources that are available. For example, during the 2013 Himalayan floods, a rescue chopper with 12 Indian Air Force officials crashed, killing all on-board, delaying operations and compounding the magnitude of the disaster. The Himalayas, as well as other flood affected regions, are not easy to navigate without accurate localized information. We hope that by improving the accuracy of single-image flood mapping, we can contribute at least slightly to the safety of rescue workers.

This research constitutes the first part of my PhD project titled, ‘Towards a Comprehensive Data Assimilation Framework for Operational Hydrodynamic Flood Forecasting’. My research strives to integrate all the seemingly disparate sources of flood information presently available, such as satellite and crowd-sourced data, to arrive at more accurate and timely flood forecasts. I am undertaking this research at the IITB‑Monash Research Academy, which is a collaboration of IIT Bombay, India and Monash University, Australia, established to strengthen their bilateral scientific relationship. My research team includes A/Prof. RAAJ Ramsankaran from IIT Bombay; and Prof. Jeffrey Walker, Dr Stefania Grimaldi, and A/Prof. Valentijn Pauwels from Monash University. I hope that the model-data integration proposed in this study leads to the development of more reliable flood early warning systems which can allow timely evacuation. Never again should someone like Sapna, have to deal with the disappearance of family members due to a flood and abruptly be thrown into dire straits with only false hopes to look forward to.

This article is based on a paper that was published earlier this year: ‘Towards operational SAR-based flood mapping using neuro-fuzzy texture-based approaches. It was published in Remote Sensing of Environment, which is a highly reputed journal in the field of remote sensing.

Research scholar: Antara Dasgupta, IITB‑Monash Research Academy

Project title: Towards a Comprehensive Data Assimilation Framework for Operational Hydrodynamic Flood Forecasting

Supervisors: Dr RAAJ Ramsankaran and Prof. Jeffrey P. Walker

Contact details: antara.dasgupta@monash.edu

Published paper: Dasgupta, A., Grimaldi, S., Ramsankaran, R. A. A. J., Pauwels, V. R. N., & Walker, J. P. (2018). Towards operational SAR-based flood mapping using neuro-fuzzy texture-based approaches. Remote Sensing of Environment, 215(15 September 2018), 313–329. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2018.06.019

This story was written by Antara Dasgupta, and it comprises original, unpublished content.

CEO of the Academy wins 50 Education Innovative Leaders Award


 

We are delighted to announce that, Prof. Murali Sastry, our CEO, is the recipient of the 50 Education Innovative Leaders award, as a thought leader in Healthcare Industry and a contributor of value. This award has been declared by the Worl Innovation Congress. The World Innovation Congress is a not for profit body that attempts to organise the annual meet with the objective of Learning & Development, Networking & Recognizing Leaders who have contributed value to the profession or their organization and make a difference. Such value contributors are influencers who have influenced positively.

Some of the Jury Members are:

  • Professor Indira Parikh, Ex Dean of IIM Ahmedabad & President – Antardisha (Directions from Within)
  • Dr. Harish Mehta, Chairman & MD – Onward Technologies Ltd.; Emeritus Chairman – World HRD Congress & Founder Member – NASSCOM
  • Dr. Arun Arora, Ex President and CEO, the Economic Times; Chairman, Edvance Pre-schools Pvt. Ltd. & Emeritus Chairman, World HRD Congress
  • Dr. Prasad Medury, Partner , Amrop India Consultants Private Limited
  • Nina E. Woodard, President & Chief “N” Sights Officer , Nina E. Woodard & Associates, a division of NDPendence, Inc.
  • Dr. R L Bhatia, Founder of World CSR & World Sustainability Congress

The Juries & Research cell have carefully worked towards architecting the program in recognition of the talent that rightly deserves to be recognized, our approach is towards thought leadership. The “50 Education Innovative Leaders ” is a reflection of the winner’s professional achievement & a belief that they are thought leaders in Healthcare Industry & a contributor of value.

The award ceremony is scheduled on 12th Feb. 2019 at 9.00 am & the venue is The Taj Lands End, Mumbai, an iconic venue that is overlooking the Arabian Sea,

‘Expert Speak’ Series- Prof. Pankaj Sekhsaria


Title of Talk: The A&N Islands – At the tri-junction of fragility and vulnerability

Date: 4th February 2019

Time: 16:15 p.m.
Venue: IITB-Monash Research Academy Seminar Room 1 and 2

Duration: 60 minutes plus Discussion
Description: Speaker will share his journey as a trained researcher. Topic will be of general importance, all branches of student most welcome to attend.

Objective: To provide students with a concise report on his recent book on A&N.
Resource person: Prof Pankaj Sekhsaria, Member, Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands constitute an unique system in the Indian context that is also one of the least understood. The islands have no parallels on multiple grounds – geological, ecological and socio-cultural – and put together these form a unit that is complex and needs special attention and care.

The islands are extremely rich from an ecological point of view – rich tropical forests, a diverse coastline comprising beaches, rocky coasts and mangroves and oceans that are thriving with coral reefs and marine life. The islands are home at the same time to a number of indigenous communities who have been here for thousands of years but are today among the most marginalised and vulnerable. And very importantly, the islands are located in Seismic Zone V, the most seismically active zone on the planet. Earthquakes here are a regular occurrence and the 9.3 richter scale earthquake that caused the giant tsunami of December 2004 had its epicenter not very far from the Nicobar islands.

The presentation will dwell on these three distinctly different but complexly inter-related aspects of these islands to argue for a larger and a more holistic understanding of the place. It will present a range of examples of how recent developmental interventions in the islands – for infrastructure development, defence installations and tourism promotion – are wilfully ignoring the dynamic and sensitive social, ecological and geological realities of this remote island chain and increasing manifold the vulnerability of the islands and its human and non-human residents.
—————————————————————————–
Pankaj Sekhsaria’s research interests lie at the intersection of environment, science, technology and society. He has worked extensively in the A&N islands and is the author/editor of four books on various issues of the islands. These include ‘Islands in Flux – the Andaman and Nicobar Story’ (Harper Litmus 2017) and ‘The Last Wave’ (HarperCollins India 2014) his debut novel that is a deeply ecological story based in the Andamans.

He is currently Associate Professor, Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (C-TARA), IIT Bombay, and also a long time member of the environmental action group, Kalpavriksh. He has a PhD in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from the Maastricht University, Netherlands and his latest book based on his doctoral research is ‘Instrumental Lives – an intimate biography of an Indian laboratory (Routledge, 2019).
Email: psekhsaria@gmail.com

 

Understanding chromatin folding through computer simulations


Imagine how difficult it is to fold a 20km long rope into a tennis ball. And, even if you succeed, imagine you are asked to locate a specific section of the rope in the ball which may be 5km from one end. Phew!

The biological cells are like the tennis-ball, and the rope here is the DNA in our cells. DNA — the genetic material in our cells — is a two-metre long polymer folded and packed inside a micro-meter sized compartment known as cell nucleus. This kind of folding of DNA occurs in each cell of every living organism.

Figure 1: Model developed in this work converts 2D contact probability into meaningful 3D model.

In our cells, the folding is achieved by a number of machines known as proteins, and the folded DNA-protein complex together is known as chromatin. How proteins achieve this high packing within a limited time is an unresolved puzzle in this field.

Any organism, like human beings, have different types of cells — skin cells, brain cells, bone cells, to name just a few. Even though these cells have exactly the same DNA content, they function very differently. This diversity in cell function is achieved by packaging the same in DNA in different manner — the chromatin organization inside the cell dictate the function of the cell.

One way to quantify the 3D organization of chromatin is to examine how different parts of the DNA polymer are in contact with each other. Advances in experimental techniques have helped us to measure the contact frequency between any two parts (segments) of the long DNA polymer, after freezing the whole chromatin in time. This experimental technique — chromosome confirmation capture method — gives the frequency with which any two segments will be in contact in a population of cells.

This information is 2-dimensional, which is static in time. We need a model which can predict the 3-dimensional configuration and dynamics of DNA based on the contact frequency information investigated through experiments.

Kiran Kumari, a research scholar with the IITB-Monash Research Academy, intends to put together such a model in the course of her PhD project titled, ‘Computing the dynamics of Chromatin folding’.

Using concepts from polymer physics, she proposes a method to obtain the 3D configuration from a given 2D contact probability heat map. This method can not only predict the steady-state 3D configuration but can also study the dynamics around the steady state. Using this method, she studies 3D configurations and dynamics of chromatin in a length scale of a gene. In particular, her model can predict the interaction profile which is required to produce the contact probability.

The Academy is a collaboration between India and Australia that endeavours to strengthen scientific relationships between the two countries. Graduate research scholars study for a dually-badged PhD from both IIT and Monash University, spending time at both institutions to enrich their research experience.

Prof Murali Sastry, CEO of the IITB-Monash Research Academy, is watching Kiran’s progress keenly. “This project will enhance our ability to understand mechanisms in biological systems such as biological cells. It will also help us understand the fundamental molecular aspects of biodiversity — all of which are essential to harness biomolecular processes, whether in health care or biotechnology,” he says.

Research scholar: Kiran Kumari, IITB-Monash Research Academy
Project title: Computing the dynamics of chromatin folding
Supervisors: Prof. Ranjith Padinhateeri and Prof. Ravi Jagadeeshan
Contact details: kiran.kumari@monash.edu

 

The above story is based on inputs from the research student, her supervisors, and IITB-Monash Research Academy. Copyright IITB-Monash Research Academy.

Rafath Alikkal


Rafath Alikkal

Rafath hails from Kerala, a tropical state in Southern India. From a young age, he showed much interest in the field of Physics and Mathematics which eventually brought him to the domain of Aerospace Engineering. He completed his Bachelor’s from Visvesvarayah Technological University and went on to pursue Master’s degree from IIT Bombay. He graduated with a specialization in Aerodynamics. His Master’s thesis was in the “Modeling and Simulation of Plasma Actuators”. He utilized an open source API, OpenFOAM, to generate the numerical simulations. With this work, he was better able to study the effectiveness of an active flow control device. His craving for knowledge has brought him to the exciting area of life sciences. During his tenure at IITB-Monash Research Academy, Rafath will be researching the role of flow physics in micro-cellular entities. His project is titled “Modeling and simulations of propulsion and swimming in microorganisms”. He will be guided by Prof. Sameer Jadhav from IIT Bombay as well as by Prof. Prabhakar Ranganathan from Monash University.
Apart from research, he endeavors upon writing short stories and poems. Also, he is a polyglot.


Link to student’s project: IMURA 0733


Haritha Joseph


Haritha Joseph

I have completed my bachelors from Union Christian College, Aluva, Kerala, and masters from IIT Madras. My masters’ project was to design, fabricate and characterize metamaterial absorber in the microwave region. Here I have joined under Prof. Shobha Shukla and Prof. Sumit Saxena for the project titled ‘development of plasmonic metamaterials for SERS application’. I love listening to music, hanging out with friends and watching movies.


Link to student’s project: IMURA 0748


Cresha Gracy Nadar


Cresha Gracy Nadar

Gracy completed her Masters in Biotechnology from DY Patil University, School of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, Navi Mumbai in May 2018. For her MTech dissertation, she joined IIT Bombay and worked on a project “Purification of Hemicellulose oligomers Xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS) using Membrane separation techniques” during which she carried out production and purification of prebiotic oligosaccharides from various agricultural waste residues. At IITB-Monash Research Academy, she will be working on project “Development of green biorefinery technologies from food processing waste” under the supervision of  Dr. Amit Arora (IIT Bombay), Co-supervisor: Dr. Yogendra Shastri (IIT Bombay), Prof. Antonio Patti (Monash University), Co-supervisor: Prof Victoria Haritos (Monash University). Her hobbies include nature photography, drawing, crafts and helping in church activities.


Link to student’s project: IMURA 0823


Arkasubhro Chatterjee


Arkasubhro Chatterjee

Arkasubhro Chatterjee completed his B. Tech in Pharmaceutical Science and Technology from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai in 2016. He will be completing his M. Tech in Pharmaceutical Technology from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai as well. His B.Tech. project thesis was titled “Calcium Phosphate Nanospheres and Nanotubes for drug delivery” and was completed under the supervision of Dr. Prajakta Dandekar Jain. His M.Tech. thesis, titled “Ethyl Cellulose nanodispersion for pharmaceutical applications” was completed under the supervision of Dr. Vandana Patravale. Recently,

he was a part of a three-month training program at the Tata Memorial Advanced Center for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC) under Dr. Abhijit De. He has also presented his research “Nanoengineered polymer Dispersion for coating applications” at the Nanobioteck 2017 Conference by Indian Society of Nanomedicine and at the Controlled Release Society, Indian Chapter, 2018 Symposium. At the IITB-Monash Research Academy, he will be working on the project titled “Pectin Based films/gels for antibiotic/antifungal applications” under the guidance of Professors Amit Arora (IIT-B), Antonio Patti (Monash University) and Andrew Phil (Monash University). His hobbies include reading and playing the guitar.


Link to student’s project: IMURA 0822