Sreejata Paul


The IITB-Monash Research Academy is a unique academic collaboration between Monash University and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB).

Recognising India’s status as an emerging research and global technological powerhouse, the IITB-Monash Research Academy was opened in 2008.

Since then, the Academy has launched 420 joint collaborative projects, recruited 250 students and attracted $14 million in funds committed by industry partners including CISCO, Orica, InfoSys, TATA, Reliance, SABIC and BHPBilliton.

Sreejata Paul is one of the IITB-Monash Research Academy’s inaugural Faculty of Arts intakes into the project, Gender and Public Sphere. Under the Academy’s flagship joint-PhD program, Sreejata is supervised in Australia by Dr Mridula Nath Chakraborty, Deputy Director of the Monash Asia Institute, and in India by Dr Paulomi Chakraborty from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IITB.

Sreejata’s unearthing of previously undiscovered Bengali Muslim women’s writing during the Indian colonial period is an exciting contribution to the field of women’s education, global feminist concerns and examinations of the public and the private.

“Sreejata’s work is a wonderful way to bring to life different feminist voices, cutting across time and culture,” Dr Chakraborty said.

“Her work illuminates the way feminism was taking form in India during this period of socio-political ferment.”

Sreejata describes her research as bringing to life the experiences of Bengali Muslim women who at this point in history were contained within the home and committed to domesticity, marriage and child-rearing. Their voices were rarely heard in the public sphere.

Despite the confines of their day-to-day lives, these women were in fact making forays into creating and publishing literature that voiced their frustrations, hopes and ambitions and imagined a life for themselves outside the home.

They were also creating revolutionary commentary into the ways in which their religion limited their potential.

“One of my goals with this research is to bring to life literary role models that modern women can use. I want to hold up these women from the past who were clearly envisioning the type of future they believed was possible,” Sreejata said.

Working across disciplines in a joint PhD program has deepened Sreejata’s links to the Indian and Australian academic communities, and created unique opportunities to collaborate and learn from the world’s leading researchers.

“I would never have had the opportunity to do a research project of this kind, in this depth, outside of this program,” Sreejata said.

“The academic community here at Monash is cooperative, co-creative and supportive. I can go to other universities and they will put me in touch with people who can have input into my research. I love that about being part of the city of Melbourne’s academic community; people know about each other’s research and they are willing to be help and support one another.

“The intellectual stimulation I get here is incredible. Australia is often front of mind for students wanting to study medicine or engineering, but it is also one of the best locations in the world for the humanities and social sciences.”

Monash Faculty of Arts Dean, Professor Sharon Pickering, said humanities, arts and social sciences had an important role to play in shaping the workforce in a rapidly-changing world.

“It’s going to be at the intersection of the human and the technological development that our very best, most critical, most innovative thinking will need to occur. It’s also where we stand most to gain,” Professor Pickering said.

“The IITB-Monash Research Academy is an important component of this innovative and interdisciplinary approach.”

Monash University Vice Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner described the IITB-Monash partnership as breaking down barriers to global innovation.

 

Using an enzyme to battle the Big C


Cancer is arguably the biggest medical mystery the world is trying to solve today. And researchers like Debopriya Sadhukan from the IITB-Monash Research Academy are attempting to understand the chemistry of cancer, which will hopefully help design better drugs to beat this dreaded disease.

Debopriya’s project is titled ‘Understanding the reaction mechanism of C5-cytosine DNA methyl transferase’.

Possible sites for DNA methylation

“DNA methylation—a process by which methyl groups are added to the DNA molecule—plays a crucial role in carcinogenesis,” she explains, “for it controls gene expression and maintains genome integrity. In tumour cells the normal methylation pattern is disrupted by hypomethylation or region-specific hypermethylation. In such cells, the methylation pattern is controlled by the enzyme C5-cytosine DNA methyltransferase. But how the enzyme catalyses the reaction is still a mystery. We are therefore trying to understand the working mechanism of this enzyme.”

Some of the questions researchers in this field are grappling with are:

i) How is the cysteine residue de-protonated?
ii) What is the role of the Glu119 residue?
iii) What is the nature of the base that will abstract the proton from the 5-position of cytosine?

Says Debopriya, “We are trying to understand the reaction mechanism of this enzyme by a completely different approach so that we can give a much better and easier explanation of the mechanism. In mammals this methylation mostly occurs at the 5-position of cytosine, so our work is solely focused on the reaction mechanism of C5- cytosine DNA methyl transferase. We adopted a simple approach. If the deprotonation energy of the C5-H bond is equal to or less than the protonation energy of the base, then the base will be able to abstract the proton from the 5- position of cytosine. So, we calculated the deprotonation energy of the C5-H bond in the presence of different moieties of the active site and the protonation energy of different bases in both gas phase and in a solution. Though we have not yet been able to close in on a suitable base whose protonation energy is more than the deprotonation energy of the C5-H bond, we found that the difference in deprotonation energy and protonation energy decreases when one increases the dielectric constant of the solvent. This is encouraging!”

Scheme-1: General Reaction Mechanism for DNA Methylation

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

Says Prof Murali Sastry, CEO of the IITB-Monash Research Academy, “Today’s research challenges require a strongly multi-disciplinary approach. And the way in which this Academy has been set up makes it possible for such multi-disciplinary investigations to be carried out. This gives me immense hope that our research scholars will create significant science, societal and industry impact in the future. According to data from the National Cancer Institute, there are 458.4 new cases of cancer per 100,000 men and women per year. What could be more gratifying than if the work by researchers like Debopriya can help reduce that number?”

Research scholar: Debopriya Sadhukan, IITB-Monash Research Academy

Project title: Understanding the reaction mechanism of C5-cytosine DNA methyl transferase.

Supervisors: Prof. G. Naresh Patwari, Dr. Ekaterina Pas

Contact details: oli.debopriya@gmail.com

The above story was written by Mr Krishna Warrier based on inputs from the research student, his supervisors, and IITB-Monash Research Academy. Copyright IITB-Monash Research Academy.

Improving coverage control laws for multi-robot systems


Consider the following applications:

  • Monitoring the temperature/current or oil spills in a part of the ocean.
  • Attempting to ascertain the presence of nuclear radiation in a particular region.
  • Deploying a network of unmanned (UAVs) in a reconnaissance mission to measure enemy presence in a region.

In each, there is a need to distribute autonomous agents functioning as sensors to optimally cover an unknown environment. Algorithm design for such agents usually faces two challenges. The first is location optimization — to resolve how the agents should be ideally distributed in order to achieve optimum sensing capabilities. The second, and more important, is to ascertain the requirements in communication in order to achieve the desired optimum coverage configuration in a robust manner (for instance intervals between messages, communication topology).

Rihab Abdul Razak, a research scholar with the IITB-Monash Research Academy, is working on a project titled, ‘New models and algorithms for decentralized and adaptive coverage control in multi-robot systems’ to help resolve these challenges.

He aims to study advances in decentralized coverage control. This is an important coordinated control problem wherein a set of robots identify optimal techniques to cover an unknown environment for the purpose of sensing.

Says Rihab, “The phenomenon to be sensed by the robots is described by a mathematical function over the region to be covered. Each robot is capable of measuring the value of the function at its position. Controllers for mobile robots have been developed so that the robots realign themselves in an optimal sensing configuration. The problem is solved by optimizing the locational optimization cost function with respect to the agent positions, and developing controllers for the robots so that they converge to the optimum of the cost function. The controllers are decentralized so that the controllers for each robot in the group work based on information local to the robot and do not require global information.”

Most of the work done in this field so far uses simple agent models to design controllers. “We aim to design controllers for more realistic agent models,” explains Rihab. “Also, we focus on adaptive algorithms where all the information about the environment may not be known, and the algorithms developed need to adapt to these unknown quantities.”

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

Says Prof Murali Sastry, CEO of the IITB-Monash Research Academy, “Rihab’s work has wide-ranging applications, including rescue and recovery, radiation and nuclear spill detection, underwater oil exploration, etc. The goal is to improve existing coverage control laws.”

Research scholar: Rihab Abdul Razak, IITB-Monash Research Academy

Project title: New models and algorithms for decentralized and adaptive coverage control in multi-robot systems

Supervisors: Dr. Srikant Sukumar, Dr. Hoam Chung

Contact details: tarihab@gmail.com

The above story was written by Mr Krishna Warrier based on inputs from the research student, his supervisors, and IITB-Monash Research Academy. Copyright IITB-Monash Research Academy.

Chromatography Workshop 2018


Agenda:
Day 1: Registration, Introduction and Ion Chromatography (Atrium Area)
Day 2: Parallel Sessions:
Ion Chromatography for Pharma (Atrium Area)
Gas Chromatography and HPLC (Seminar Room)
Day 3: Forenoon: CHNSO (Seminar Room), Afternoon: Hands-on for Group 1,2 & 3 (Materials Lab)
Day 4: Hands-on training for group 1,2,and 3 (Materials Lab).
Day 5: Lectures on Innovation, IPR, Safety and Group Activity (Seminar Room)

For more details Click Here…

Seeking a new material to monitor hydrogen


The demand for hydrogen on a commercial scale is growing rapidly. This colourless, highly combustible gas is not only a large industrial and laboratory commodity, but also has the potential to be used as fuel, and this could increase the demand to more than 2 trillion cubic metres per year. Therefore it is necessary to have a dedicated sensing system with low saturation, high sensitivity and affordability to measure hydrogen.

Arif Ibrahim, a research scholar with the IITB-Monash Research Academy, is hoping to develop precisely such a system as part of his project, ‘Nano-confined multi component metal hydride system for hydrogen sensing application’.

“Current measuring technologies use various principles — like Resistive, Optical, Bubble Testing, Catalytic Combustion, and Electrochemical,” says Arif. “We hope to come up with a thin-film-based hydrogen gas sensor using carbon-based material, which performs continuous monitoring with appropriate electronic arrangement.”

Hydrogen cannot be detected by human senses, making the use of suitable detection devices necessary. It is highly inflammable, and since hydrogen leaks can be hazardous if not detected quickly, reliable detection systems need to be tested, and their performance validated, so that they can be effectively deployed wherever hydrogen is produced, stored, distributed, or used.

Says Arif, “We have so far come up with a novel material that shows better response with pd dispersion into the matrix of that material and hydrogen gas can be sensed and continuously monitored with its lower limit by using any either resistive- or optical-based detection system. The biggest challenge is to get a proper thin film with thickness that lies under the 2D regime.”

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

The image shows the detection principle in resistive as well as optical domain. In resistive sensing approach material is deposited on the top of conductive electrode i.e. gold, silver then sensing is done on the basis of change in resistivity with respect to exposure in the hydrogen rich environment. Similarly optical approaches are based on the change in the reflectivity of the material subjected to hydrogen gas

Says Prof Murali Sastry, CEO of the IITB-Monash Research Academy, “Hydrogen is not a primary energy source such as coal or gas but is an energy carrier (similar to electricity) and can store and deliver energy in a widely useable form. It is one of the most promising alternative fuels for future transport applications. When produced from renewable sources it provides pollution-free transport, without carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and decreases our dependence on dwindling oil reserves. If Arif is able to develop a sensing system for hydrogen that’s reliable and robust, the scope is tremendous.”

Arif Ibrahim

Research scholar: Arif Ibrahim, IITB-Monash Research Academy

Project title: Nano-confined multi component metal hydride system for hydrogen sensing application

Supervisors: Prof. S P Duttagupta, Prof. A Sarkar, Prof. Sankara Sarma V Tatiparti, Prof. Raman Singh, Prof. Gita Pendharkar

Contact details: er.arifibrahim@gmail.com

The above story was written by Mr Krishna Warrier based on inputs from the research student, his supervisors, and IITB-Monash Research Academy. Copyright IITB-Monash Research Academy.

Graduation Ceremony 2018


 

Graduation celebrated at the highest level

Professor Margaret Gardner AO, President and Vice-Chancellor of Monash University was a special guest at the recent Institute of Technology-Bombay convocation (graduation) ceremony held on August 11th 2018 in Mumbai, India.The guest of honour for the convocation ceremony was the Honourable Mr Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, who delivered an inspiring speech as well as three gold medals and 43 silver medals to students.

Joined by a Monash delegation of senior Monash staff, Professor Gardner witnessed the graduation of 29 PhD students from the IITB-Monash Research Academy joint venture program; five students from the program also received medals from the Prime Minister.  The Research Academy is celebrating its 10th year of operation in 2018 and this was the 6th cohort of students to graduate alongside their IITB peers.

Professor Gardner, Deputy Chancellor Shane Buggle and Provost and Senior Vice-President, Professor Marc Parlange formed part of the official academic and VIP procession that sat alongside Prime Minister Modi on the graduation stage as part of the formalities.The IITB-Monash Research Academy joint venture was established in 2008 in recognition of India’s status as an emerging research and global technological powerhouse. It is a collaboration between the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) and Monash University.

The IITB-Monash Research Academy enables the formation of multi-disciplinary research teams across Australia and India, challenging the traditional individual/discipline-oriented research agenda. The Academy also enables the long-term engagement of industry commitments structured around major research challenges.

The Academy has successfully fostered deeper collaboration across the higher education sector. It has recruited 250 students, launched 420 joint collaborative projects and produced 600 research publications and Industry funded projects to the tune of $14M in committed contracts. The collaboration has also seen a 585% increase in co-publications from 2012 -2017.After the ceremony the Monash delegation hosted an ‘Alumni and Friends’ reception event in Mumbai. Guests included the newly graduated students, Monash and Academy staff and alumni and friends of Monash drawn from government and industry.

Speaking to the group about Monash’s strength in large scale cross-disciplinary research Professor Gardner said, “You can’t do projects of that scale unless you have excellent research. But you don’t do projects on that scale unless you’re prepared to take on big challenges and big challenges mean you have to work across disciplines.”

“…the challenges we’re prepared to put to ourselves (at Monash) are big challenges and we have the excellent people to take on those challenges,” she concluded.

Also speaking at the event was by Dr Murali Sastry, CEO IITB- Monash Research Academy. He joined Professor Gardner is congratulating the new graduates and in highlighting the importance of continued engagement in India. He also encouraged Monash University Alumni to connect with alumni from the Research Academy.

Tracking nanoparticle movement deep inside our lungs


Lung disease is the third leading cause of deaths worldwide, according to a study by the World Health Organization. The respiratory system is prone to numerous diseases like asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and cancer. Many of these are caused by nanoparticles that deposit on the inner surfaces in our lungs.

• How does our breathing pattern affect the transport and deposition of these nanoparticles?
• Does our breathing rate during different activities like sleeping, running or walking have any significant effect on this?
• What are the differences in the breathing profiles of healthy persons and those with diseases?
• Can predicting nanoparticle movement in the lung help combat lung disease?

These are some of the questions that Chitresh Bhargava, a research scholar with the IITB-Monash Research Academy, is seeking answers to as part of his PhD project titled ‘Deep in the Lung: Nanoparticles transport and deposition in alveolar flows’.

“The transfer of desirable (drugs) or undesirable aerosols (pollutants) in the lung occurs with the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in small sacs known as alveoli (more than 300 million in number). Understanding the transport and deposition of such nanoparticles is of deep interest to me,” says Chitresh. “It enables us to study health effects — both from the point of view of potential risks due to pollutants and safety to pharmaceutical drug delivery.”

Previous studies suggest that factors such as the particle size and carrier airflow pattern determine the deposition fraction in regions such as nasal pharyngeal, bronchioles and alveoli. “It has been reported that a fine particle size (approximately 20 nm) has a deposition fraction of 90% in the alveoli”, which suggests that diffusion is the main mechanism of particle deposition. However, studies reveal that diffusion cannot be the only reason. Convective transport plays a vital role as well in the transport of particles along the conducting airways.”

During his research, Chitresh will simulate and analyze fluid flow and particle deposition in various complex alveolar models of the pulmonary tract through computational fluid dynamics (CFD). “In a series of studies, we will employ the CFD approach as it allows us to consider flows that are very difficult to model experimentally even for very small particles. However, CFD has not yet been used extensively to study alveolar deposition. Limitations such as failure to incorporate the accurate shape of the alveoli, expansion-contraction of the alveoli during breathing, and the impact of breathing rate on the transport and deposition of aerosols have influenced us to work on a more accurate method to track particles in the alveoli.”

Airflow simulation in an alveolated duct 3D model for Reynolds number 0.01. The streamline profile shows re-circulation of air in alveoli

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

Says Prof Murali Sastry, CEO of the IITB-Monash Research Academy, “Extensive research is being conducted to ascertain new drugs and drug delivery systems for pulmonary delivery that are more efficient and safe. It is first important, though, to understand the mechanism of transport and deposition of the particulate matter in the human lung rather than directly switching to the drug delivery system for treatment of a number of diseases. Thus, the prediction of the particle deposition in the human pulmonary tract is of vital importance to evaluate the risks associated with exposure to air pollutants. We hope Chitresh’s research will lead to a novel understanding of transport and deposition mechanisms that occur in alveolar flows, which, in turn, will help us all breathe a little easier!”

 

Research scholar: Chitresh Kumar Bhargava, IITB-Monash Research Academy

Project title: Deep in the Lung: Nanoparticles transport and deposition in alveolar flows

Supervisors: Prof. Devang V. Khakhar, Prof. Murray Rudman and Dr. Guy Metcalfe

Contact details: chitreshbhargava29@gmail.com

The above story was written by Mr Krishna Warrier based on inputs from the research student, his supervisors, and IITB-Monash Research Academy. Copyright IITB-Monash Research Academy.

Making robotic surgeries more efficient and interactive


Aspiring surgeons find surgical simulators very helpful as a training tool. However, most of these simulators use simplified tool-tissue interaction because of the real-time feedback required. This problem can be overcome if finite models are developed.

Abhishek Mukherjee, a research scholar with the IITB-Monash Research Academy, is therefore working on a project titled ‘Modeling of the interaction of soft tissues and cells with their environment’.

It is well-documented that during surgery the tissue response is a function of force (applied by the surgeon), tool position, and the path taken by the surgeon. Abhishek is attempting to develop tool-tissue interaction models to predict feedback which could directly be fed to the haptic device if the simulations can be conducted in real time. And just in case real time computations are slow, realistic simulations could be carried out offline and fitted into meta-models, which could then be used for feedback from the haptic device.

“A part of my project deals with modeling the interaction between a robotic surgical tool and tissue to characterize the mechanical properties of the tissue. Through this, we may be able to detect the presence of a tumor embedded in it,” says Abhishek excitedly. “And then there’s the other part, where I plan to model stresses on cells when they migrate through 3D channels. This is likely to give us more insight into the physics behind such processes. Cancerous cells take more time to migrate than healthy ones, and thus might serve as a bio-indicator. Bio-mechanical interactions are complex because they cannot simply be analyzed from a mechanical standpoint — there are several biological processes involved too. I relish the possibility that I get to unravel some of nature’s best kept secrets by understanding how bio-mechanisms work. The model that we have developed could make robotic surgeries more efficient and interactive.”

A three-dimensional computational model of an indentation process to detect an embedded cancerous nodule. The colours indicate stress development in the system with red indicating high stress and blue low stress conditions.

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

Says Prof Murali Sastry, CEO of the IITB-Monash Research Academy, “The first part of Abhishek’s project holds a lot of promise for efficient robotic surgery in that there is a major push to make robotic surgery more interactive and make robots ‘feel’. Unfortunately, mathematical models to do are still to be developed. Robotic surgeries are currently done based on distance estimation to the target organs, but incorporating a touch or force sensation would make the process more intuitive and interactive for the surgeons operating on it remotely. The second part of the project is important to understand the physical phenomenon behind cell migration through constricted spaces. This could give more insight into understanding the dislocation of cancer cells from their primary location to lodging themselves in a separate location to give rise to secondary tumors. Understanding these phenomena could go a long way in treating cancers.”

Abhishek Mukherjee

Research scholar: Abhishek Mukherjee, IITB-Monash Research Academy

Project title: Modeling of the interaction of soft tissues and cells with their environment

Supervisors: Prof Ramesh Singh, Prof Shamik Sen, Prof Abhishek Gupta, Prof Wenyi Yan

Contact details: abhmukh@gmail.com

 

The above story was written by Mr Krishna Warrier based on inputs from the research student, his supervisors, and IITB-Monash Research Academy. Copyright IITB-Monash Research Academy.

Service firms and their supply chains


We’re familiar with supply chains for products, but what about services?

Should supply chains for the latter be responsive or efficient?

Does the fit between these intangible resources and supply chain characteristics have performance implications?

These are some of the questions that Raveen Menon, a research scholar with the IITB-Monash Research Academy, is seeking to answer as part of his PhD project: Strategic Fit of Service Supply Chains.

“Service firms can deploy several resources like people, machines and tools. However, in order to give themselves a competitive advantage, they have to acquire other sets of intangible resources like knowledge and skills,” says Raveen. “My research uses insights from Strategic Fit concept to identify sources of competitive advantage for service firms. Service Dominant Logic (SDL) views operant resources (knowledge, skills) rather than operand resources (physical resources) as the prime source of competitive advantage for service supply chains. We define supply chain fit as a match between firms’ operant resources and service supply chain characteristics (viz. innovative, efficient and innovative-efficient) that lead to superior firm performance. We hope to validate this framework using survey research, and, with the help of lean management principles, examine the impact of excess operant resources on firm performance.”

Services contribute a significant share to a nation’s economic output. However, research to create a comprehensive framework for the understanding and managing of service supply chains, has been scarce. The strategic management of a service supply chain is largely underdeveloped even though they are considered as the next frontier of competitive advantage.

The theoretical model depicting the relationships of interest

“When you buy a product, it is not just the product you are buying; instead, you buy the services that the product offers. The service dominant logic (SDL) views goods as transmitters of service as opposed to being end products. Goods are mechanisms for service provision,” emphasises Raveen. “The theoretical framework developed in my study has several objectives. Firstly, to develop the concept of strategic fit of service supply chains based on operant resources. Next, to assess its impact on firm performance, and, finally, to identify the sources of competitive advantage for service firms. Our concept of service supply chain fit will aid service firm managers to understand the significance of intangible operant resources for their firm and identify, and explore, these resources to extract their maximum potential for achieving competitive advantage in their market.”

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

Says Prof Murali Sastry, CEO, IITB-Monash Research Academy, “Once service firms start investing resources to identify sources that can significantly provide a strategic advantage, competition will increase and the ultimate beneficiary will be the consumer. The expected outcomes from Raveen’s research are:
• A framework to classify service supply chains
• A toolkit to assess whether a service firm/supply chain should have a design aimed at agility, efficiency, or some other strategic objective.

We wish him well!

Raveen Menon

Research scholar: Raveen Menon, IITB-Monash Research Academy
Project title: Strategic Fit of Service Supply Chains Based on Operant Resources: A Latent Source of Competitive Advantage
Supervisors: Prof. Tarikere T. Niranjan, Prof. Dayna Simpson and Prof. Mohan Krishnamoorthy
Contact details: raveen.menon@monash.edu

 

 

The above story was written by Mr Krishna Warrier based on inputs from the research student, his supervisors, and IITB-Monash Research Academy. Copyright IITB-Monash Research Academy.