IISER, Pune’s new director takes office, gears up to bring changes
The Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune is gearing up to be one of the 20 institutions of eminence, with world-class educational facilities and greater institutional autonomy, said erstwhile director professor KN Ganesh. He expressed this to be one of the major goals for the institution while declaring the handing over of his position to the new director of IISER Pune, professor Jayant B Udgaonkar.
Professor Ganesh has led IISER to its current glory, since its inception in 2006, and will be taking over as the director of the sixth IISER at Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh.
“I don’t know how, but I have been given the unique opportunity to be the founding director of two IISERs. Seeing such an institute grow has been an honour and we want it to soon be listed among the 20 institutions of eminence,” said professor Ganesh.
The competition, which is open to all the institutes in the country, has been proposed by the government with an aim to catapult the Indian academic scenario to global recognition. Becoming one of the winners in this would mean freedom from the University Grants Commission’s restrictive regulations and more institutional autonomy. According to professor Ganesh, IISERs in Pune, Mohali and Kolkata have been selected to compete in this based on their rankings.
The new director, professor Udgaonkar, who took office from November 1, cited the strife, to take IISER, Pune to the level of an institution of eminence, to be one of his major current goals. “For now, I have just entered into a space that I need to know more about. As a scientist, I believe it is very important to interact with students, especially undergraduate students, and inspire them. I am here to do that and to help IISER grow, which the institution has already been doing at a fast pace. And, as this competition guarantees a certain level of funding, recognition and autonomy, we are definitely looking to put our best into it,” he said.
His future plans also entail strengthening the character of IISER through more interdisciplinary research. “The truth is that modern science is increasingly interdisciplinary. IISER, Pune should become the platform for students to constantly learn and unlearn science through different interdisciplinary avenues.”
Professor Udgaonkar is a biophysicist with over 30 years of research experience. Prior to his arrival at IISER, PUNE, he was a part of the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru. He has led a research group working on protein folding, while serving as the dean of faculty at NCBS. Further, the scientist has also received notable accolades including the BM Birla Award in Biology and GN Ramachandran Gold Medal by CSIR.
“If you see the number of scientists per population, its the least in India. To develop into a strong nation, that needs to change” - Prof K N Ganesh.
“If we are using taxpayer’s money we are answerable to the society through our work. But the society also needs to realise the importance of scientific research and its implications in nation building” - Prof Jayant B. Udgaonkar