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Encouraging research

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Keen to spot something: Members of the Salim Ali Naturalist Forum participate in trekking and bird watching at the SACON forest in Anaikatti.
Keen to spot something: Members of the Salim Ali Naturalist Forum participate in trekking and bird watching at the SACON forest in Anaikatti.

ANASUYA MENON

Final-year M.Sc. pure science students now have an option to make their studies more exciting. They can undertake short-term research programmes on any wildlife and conservation issue of their choice at Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History. Starting from three to six months, the programme aims to enrich the repertoire of the students’ knowledge, give them practical exposure to the basics of research and encourage them to take up serious research after the completion of studies.

“Given the boom in Information Technology and IT Enabled Services sectors, it is not surprising that the number of takers for pure sciences have gone down. Students preferring pure sciences to IT are very few,” says S.Muralidharan, Senior Scientist, Division of Ecotoxicology, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Anaikatti.

“There is a growing need for more students to consider research as an option after their studies, especially in environmental sciences as the scope is only increasing by the day,” he adds. According to Dr. Muralidharan, the problem lies in the fact that very few colleges offer basic research facilities. For a college offering pure sciences, basic research facilities are a must. Only then will students understand the scope and reach of research, he observes. “At least the final semester of all post graduate courses in basic sciences should be dedicated to research,” he says.

However, colleges are opening up to the concept and sending student for short-term programmes. The topics for research are as varied as Avian Ecology, Wetland Ecology, Terrestrial Ecology, Ecotoxicology, Environmental Impact Assessment, and Conservation Biology. SACON also offers Junior Research Fellowship programmes.

The junior research fellows are given financial assistance and transport and accommodation facilities. For a Ph.D scholar, the research can go on till about five years depending upon the scope of the project. The centre has scholars from various parts of the country including Assam, Orissa, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Those who successfully complete the programme can either go in for scientific research. The Research and Development units of pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries also throw open a wide range of job opportunities for research scholars. Others can go in for the conventional lecturer posts, which help them impart knowledge to an upcoming generation of scientists, Dr.Muralidharan says. Though the remuneration in the field of research cannot be compared to that in the IT sector, the rewards are sustained and better as the student gains greater expertise.

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