Researchers, industries trade ideas at IISconnect

Ph.D scholars got to interact with industry representatives as part of IISconnet at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru on Monday.

Ph.D scholars got to interact with industry representatives as part of IISconnet at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Handout E mail

It was a Monday like no other for the Ph.D scholars at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), with the final-year scholars getting face time with industry experts as part of IISconnet, where more than 100 research works were showcased.

The event, organised by the Office of Career Counselling and Placements (OCCAP), saw representation from over 100 industries. “In the United States, a majority of research scholars get absorbed into industries, but in India they go into the teaching profession. Our institution produces over 300 research scholars every year. Such an event will provide a platform for IISc’s graduating Ph.D students to interact with potential industry employers,” said Prof. K.J. Vinoy, convenor, OCCAP.

Industry representatives feel there is a need for more research scholars, given the growing research and development activity in the country. “The students also got to understand the opportunities available to them in different companies,” a source from a multi-national company said.

Most doctorate students get to learn about potential employment opportunities only during their final year. “This way, our juniors also got to know what are the needs of the industry. It is also a chance to land internships,” one final-year student said.

Yeast solution

At a time when IVF procedures and other treatments are burning a hole in our pockets, an IISc research scholar has come up with a cheaper alternative — developing human protein in yeast platforms.

“Human proteins used in medicines are therapeutic. It is difficult to make them from animal cell lines as it is a costly procedure and takes time. Another option is bacteria, but not all proteins can have a three-dimensional structure, this means they won’t all be biologically active. Yeast is an alternative,” said Simna Manoharan, who is doing her Ph.D in the Chemical Engineering department.

The researcher, guided by Prof. R.R. Dighe and Jayant Modak of IISc, has modified yeast in order to make the protein compatible for usage on human beings. “We tested them and found they work. Hopefully, if it is successful as a form of treatment, the costs of various treatments, including that for fertility, will be reduced” she said.

Liver test

The Hepatitis C virus, considered to be deadly, has no vaccine. But Priyanka Jayal, a final-year Ph.D student from the department of Biochemistry at IISc, has come with a method to test potential vaccines on an artificial liver.

While there is are vaccines for Hepatitis B., but there is none for Hepatitis C. It is against the rules to test potential drugs on animals. The only option is mice, but this doesn’t allow one to ascertain the efficacy of the medicine. “The artificial liver, made of tissues, can be placed and grown inside the mice. The medicines can be tested on mice after this,” said Ms. Priyanka.

Trapping noise

K.V. Vijay Girish, a final-year Ph.D scholar, is working on a speech enhancement technique. “There are different types of noises, including background noise. It is difficult for a computer to understand a noisy speech,” he said.

Through speech enhancement, Mr. Girish aims to separate the noises. “Through this programme, we can identify the noise from the speaker’s sound. This can be useful in audio surveillance, hearing aids, and mobile communication,” he said.

According to him, this will be very useful for law enforcement agencies. “If they are going through a telephonic conversation of a suspect, they can use the programme to identify the background noise and find out where the person is calling from. Similarly, if they have a database containing voices of criminals, they can match it using the application,” he said. This can also be converted into a mobile app, Mr. Girish added.

Waste no more

At a time when water has become scarce, here is an example of how to turn waste water into usable water through reverse osmosis. Naga Samrat, a final-year PhD student in the Chemical Engineering department, was inspired by the concept of putting waste water to good use during his visits to parts of Kolar, Tumakuru, and Andhra Pradesh in 2012-2013 with his professor K. Kesava Rao.

“At a reverse osmosis plant in Yellampalli, which was used to treat water, nearly 70 per cent of the water drawn by the equipment was wasted. It had double the fluoride and nitrate content, and other contaminant found in groundwater, all damaging to the environment,” he said.

On his return, he devised a unit to treat wasted water. “In this, water is pushed into a unit, which adsorbs the impurities and makes the water fit for drinking. In future, there are plans to tap the microbes, treat the nitrate in waste water, and in the process, generate electricity from them,” he said.

A pilot project for purifying water wasted from the RO plant is being conducted at Yellampalli village in Bagepalli taluk. “We are trying to club the adsorption unit with the RO plant,” Mr. Samrat added.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 7:43:56 AM |

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