Dipson, who died battling muscular dystrophy, awarded Ph.D posthumously

When Anne Thomas got to know that her son had been awarded a Ph. D degree, her sorrow knew no bounds. For, her son Dipson P.T., at the age of 33 years, had died on January 10, 2013, and the notification of the Doctor of Philosophy awarded to him by the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) came on December 24 that year.

Mrs. Thomas could then only relive the years of struggle her son had gone through — his determination and diligence to make a mark, hindered all the time by his peculiar condition of muscular dystrophy and cardiomyopathy. The degenerative disease that progressively weakens skeletal muscles and hinders movement caught up with Dipson last year as he was racing ahead, battling his many limitations.

The Perumpilly church, at a function organised on Friday, honoured Dipson’s achievement on the occasion of his first death anniversary.

Mrs. Thomas had stood firmly by her son as he went from one step to another in his academic achievement. Her husband had died when Dipson was just eight years old, before the boy’s medical condition was diagnosed.

“It was about a year after his father’s death that I got him examined by a doctor since all his childhood problems which others had said would go away with time never seemed to go away,” said Mrs. Thomas, a retired school teacher. A reference to the Kottayam Medical College revealed his problem on a bigger canvas.

Battling an unfriendly public transport system, Dipson did his graduation in B.Sc Chemistry with Environmental Studies and Water Management at Maharaja’s College, joined Cusat for post-graduation in Environmental Technology and went on to enrol for Ph.D in 2005 at the School of Environmental Studies after working as guest lecturer at Maharaja’s College for about two years. “An uncut diamond, hundred per cent honest and blunt too, which made many feel uneasy at times,” is how Dipson’s Ph. D guide, M.V. Harindranathan Nair, assistant professor, School of Environmental Sciences, describes him. His thesis on spatio-temporal changes in the wetland ecosystem of Kochi is a detailed work on the changes in the Aroor-Paravur stretch using satellite images.

Dipson was also instrumental in setting up a geographical information system and remote sensing laboratory in the department, said Mr. Nair.

The university waived his defence on the thesis since he died soon after submitting it. Cusat has previously awarded Ph. D posthumously. In Dipson’s case, his wife produced his death certificate and the examiners were convinced of his work. Helped by his family and friends, Dipson had even made his way to the department on a wheel chair, determined to complete his work.

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