PU research comes to a standstill, to affect rankingUpdated: Mar 27, 2020, 01:08 IST
In wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, research has taken a back-seat at Panjab University. Laboratories have gone quiet without the hundreds of researchers who have been working on a number of studies at the varsity.
The Panjab University had already suspended its class work and directed its employees to work from home from March 15. Now, due to the curfew, more than 3,000 research scholars working in the varsity’s teaching departments, have no access to labs. The Panjab University had already suspended its class work and directed its employees to work from home from March 15.
The closure of labs is set to impact biological sciences more than other sciences because biological experiments are usually time bound.
Aitzaz Ehsaan, a research scholar from the Zoology department, says, “Without access to labs, research on tissue cultures and other animal experiments have been affected. Researchers may have to start their experiments anew. This has delayed the process and researchers will not be able to meet the deadline.”
“Most publishers are in foreign countries. In the wake of the epidemic, they, too, are not responding and publications are getting delayed. This is the time when research committees are formed and research projects are approved,” says Ehsaan.
Research on seasonal plants has taken a hit and researchers may have to re-plan their studies. Many time-bound researches have been enormously affected by the closure of labs.
A professor at the Botany department said that many researches are time-bound, such as studies of seasonal plants and crops which need to be re-planned now, as this is the time when studies are done on medicinal plants and food crops. “We are in touch with our students but lab work can’t be done without a lab, and many students have to go on visits for their researches. Our department has more than 100 research scholars,” he said.
Professor Ashwani Koul, department of biophysics, said, “More than 30 researchers are researching on animals in our department. Labs in our department remain functional throughout the year. Since we do not have access to labs currently, animals are not being treated well. It will have an adverse impact on the research.”
Panjab University scores more points in various rankings due to its research work. The university is among the top ten institutes in Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2019. The delay in research can result in a decline in research output of the university, too.
Professor Rajat Sandhir of the biochemistry department said, “The delay in experiments will result in a drop in the university’s research output. This may affect its NAAC ratings. The graduation of the students, too, will also be delayed.”
“We have made a recommendation that in case of urgency, a single student will be allowed to access the lab if the department’s chairperson recommends it. The university is seeking permission from the UT administration, and will implement this only after their approval,” said professor Navdeep Goyal, chairman of the advisory committee constituted to suggest necessary measures in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak.