View this email in the browser 13 Jan 2020
From the IBS Desk

Dear Reader,

As we welcome the onset of the new decade, we decided to look back over the last year and share with you some of our key achievements and learnings. 2019 was a year of new beginnings and we continued exploring new ways to serve the scientific community by acting as a catalyst to bring change into the culture and practice of doing science in India.

Throughout it all, the response from you, our readers, has been overwhelmingly positive and has pushed us constantly to stretch our boundaries and innovate. We extend our heartfelt thanks to you and hope you will continue to show your support and engage with us in the coming year.

Here are some highlights of our many adventures in 2019.

Looking Back: Some Special Columns
10 Leaders 10 Questions
10 leaders 10 questions

Through this interview series, we tried to explore the importance of visionary scientific leadership and the attributes that set true leaders apart. In these articles, you will find insights on setting a clear vision, leading teams to success, embracing failure, and more.

Our first three interviewees were Ron Vale, Executive Director, Janelia Research Campus; Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Shahid Jameel, CEO, Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance.

PhD Cafe
phd cafe

PhD students contribute the bulk of the scientific output in the country, yet remain largely unseen and unheard in the popular narrative. Through this series, we hope to provide graduate students with a platform to share their stories, experience, and advice with each other as well as the rest of the scientific community.

Read on to learn more about a woman who earned her PhD while working full time and bringing up two young children, myths perpetuated in graduate student circles, intricacies of the advisor-student relationship, and much more.

Science communication in Indian languages
scicomm languages

In a country with 22 official languages and over 700 additional ones, English still remains the language of choice for most mainstream science communication. In this series, we asked some of those individuals who have not allowed language barriers come in the way of communicating science to share their experience and insights.

How did a team of undergraduates come up with a synthetic biology course offered in 26 languages? How did a child from a tiny town in Karnataka go on to build a 40-year long career in science communication? How does a Tamil daily make mathematics accessible to school-children? You can find these stories and more linked here.

Scientific networking and collaboration
networking and collaboration

Free exchange of ideas, knowledge, and expertise is crucial to the success of any scientific enterprise. Collaboration and networking are, therefore, skills that today's scientists need to learn and nurture in order to make progress on answering some of the most pressing questions of the day.

In this series, we explored various facets of scientific networking and collaboration, including the use of social media by Indian scientists, the role of networking in facilitating a career change, the need for more networking opportunities for Indian science educators, and finally, a guide to networking for introverts.

Mental health and Indian Academia
mental health

We are progressively seeing the signs of a burgeoning mental health crisis in academia. In this ongoing series, we have been examining the status of mental health awareness and research in the Indian context, and discuss possible strategies and interventions to counter the issue.

Through these articles, we explored the culture of silence that often prevents sufferers of mental illnesses from speaking up, the normalisation of poor mental health in academic circles, the need for better awareness and understanding of mental disorders, scientific studies of mental health in Indian populations, as well as a few steps in the positive direction, with innovative mental health events being organised in colleges and institutes.

Journey of a Young Investigator

Starting in 2017, we began asking young Indian researchers to share their stories of setting up their labs & becoming independent scientists. In its third year now and with 40+ stories, the JOYI series continues with inspiring tales from around the country. You can find collections of past series here and here, and read the ongoing set of articles here.

Most popular columns of 2019
Making the most of the post-doc experience
Shilpak Chatterjee

Shilpak Chatterjee is a Senior Scientist at the CSIR-Indian Institute for Chemical Biology. In this invited article, he writes about how one can best utilize the post-doctoral training period to have a head start when it is time to set up one’s own independent laboratory.

Welcome to the PhD Clan: perspective from a just-graduated survivor
Jacinth Rajendra

Jacinth Rajendra, a graduate student at ACTREC, Mumbai, writes about the inevitable hurdles and obstacles that arise during a PhD, and the things that make it worth pursuing nevertheless.

Busting a few PhD Myths
Debdutta Paul

Debdutta Paul discusses a few myths often believed and perpetuated by graduate students throughout India, which can prove detrimental to their scientific journeys.

Do’s and Don’ts for a healthy student-advisor relationship
Parul Anup

Parul Anup talks about the expectations that graduate students and Principal Investigators (PIs) have from each other, and how keeping these in mind can help in building a healthy mentor-mentee relationship.

A perspective on the agricultural crisis in India
Fathima Athar

G.V. Ramanjaneyulu is the executive director of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), Hyderabad. Following his PhD, he gave up a well-paying job to establish CSA, a non-profit organisation which aims to find solutions to the crisis that Indian agriculture is in today. In this two-part interview, Ramanjaneyulu explains the causes of the agricultural crisis and the need for sustainable agriculture in our country, as well as the activities of CSA in this regard.

Most popular news of 2019
From students with love: new bacteria named after an Indian microbiologist
Lekha Bandopadhyay

Researchers from North Bengal University, Siliguri, Bose Institute, Kolkata, and Kalyani University, Kalyani, have identified a new genus of bacteria which can degrade a potent neurotoxin that has been responsible for several food-poisoning outbreaks. The researchers have named the new isolate Pradoshia eiseniae, as a tribute to their mentor, the late Indian microbiologist Pradosh Roy.

MANAV- A citizen science based human atlas project
Aditi Jain

The MANAV Project aims to create an open and interactive atlas of human biology, compiling, curating and synthesizing data at the molecular, cellular, tissue and organismic level from scientific literature and public databases. The project was launched in New Delhi on 10 May 2019.

Bug Speaks: A technology from India’s first microbiome company
Yashika Kapoor

In the era of personalized medicine, the human gut microbiota may yield important information about an individual's disease susceptibility - this is the premise for Bug Speaks, India's first microbiome company

“Make in India” biodegradable screws for fixing bone injuries
Titash Mukherjee

In a country where more than 80% of medical devices are imported, IIT Bombay researchers have developed India’s first biodegradable bone screw. The screw is made of a polymer-based biomaterial which contains Magnesium Oxide nanoparticles and silk fibres, and its mechanical strength can be tuned to match the target tissue. As tested in rodents, the screw decomposes reasonably fast and is completely compatible inside the body.

How stem cells retain their ​“stem” ness: The science of staying uncommitted
Aditi Jain

Since their initial discovery several decades ago, stem cells have faced intensive study due to their potential medical applications and fascinating biology. A question that has long interested scientists is how do stem cells continue to remain in an undifferentiated or ​‘uncommitted’ state, unlike every other cell type in the body? Now, a new study from researchers at the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) sheds light on this unique problem.

Our New Initiatives
IndiaBiostreams

IndiaBiostreams — webinars by IndiaBioscience, is an interactive medium for science outreach, education and community building. In 2019, we organised five webinars in collaboration with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, highlighting DBT's various schemes and programs for life science students and researchers in India. We also hosted a couple of webinars in our Science Policy 101 series, where we discussed the science-policy ecosystem in India and science policies implemented in the country in the past.

We have a number of interesting webinars lined up in 2020, including discussions on research ethics and international grants that Indian scientists can avail of, so don't forget to follow our website and subscribe to our newsletter for updates.

IndiaBiospeaks

Have you ever wondered how a science illustrator spends her days? Or a science policy professional? An academic researcher, a research manager, or a science communicator? We launched our podcast channel IndiaBiospeaks in late 2018, and throughout 2019, we have been discussing various career options in the science ecosystem in India and providing advice on strategies for career development on this channel. Do check out our first season on 'Crafting your Career' and share with your friends, colleagues and seasons if you find it useful. You may also find us on Apple Podcast / Google Podcasts.

Science Policy Forum

This is a collaborative platform, jointly established by IndiaBioscience, the DST-centre for policy research (CPR), IISc, Bangalore, Sustainable Water Future Programme and Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance. The forum features articles, opinion pieces, events, jobs and grant opportunities in the space of science policy. It also features relevant resources and a discussion space for issues on science policy in India.

Database of Life Science Researchers

This project of mapping the researchers in the life sciences in India was inspired by and is an outcome of the 10th edition of YIM (2018) in Thiruvananthapuram. It was initiated to serve as a resource to help locate and connect the community of Indian life science researchers, including (but not limited to) the past attendees of the YIM series. We hope this database will help foster collaborations and cross-disciplinary interactions within the community

Crafting your Career Workshops

The life science ecosystem in India is evolving into an interconnected and interdependent network which presents a spectrum of career paths and opportunities and there is a need for skilled professionals to fulfil these emerging roles. Our Crafting your Career (CYC) workshops aim to create awareness about the ecosystem and provide the requisite knowledge, tools, techniques to help students identify and navigate a fulfilling career path for themselves. It also aims to redistribute talent and capacity towards creating a healthy, wholesome and thriving life science ecosystem in India.

To catch a glimpse of one of these workshops, check out this in-depth report. You can also learn more about our meetings and workshops on our Activity page.

Regional YIMs

During the 10th Young Investigators’ Meeting (YIM), a need was felt for stronger local networks within the Indian scientific fraternity. Researchers in Hyderabad led the initiative with the first-of-its-kind Regional Young Investigators Meeting (RYIM) in 2018, with support from IndiaBioscience. In 2019, three other Regional YIMs- at Kolkata, Delhi and Jodhpur- followed the meeting at Hyderabad. The participants highly appreciated each of the meetings as it provided them with a platform not just to share their science but also get to know their neighbouring scientific community.

Our New Publications
Spoorthi

On 11th February, the International Day for Women and Girls in Science, we launched 'Spoorthi', an e-booklet celebrating Indian women in science. Spoorthi features conversations with women from many different science professions, touching upon various ideas, issues, challenges, and experiences that are an intrinsic part of being a woman in science in India. You can download a free copy of Spoorthi at this link. Please share it with your friends and colleagues.

Teaching Graduate Biology

This booklet is a compendium of our popular articles on the topic of higher education. The collection showcases techniques biology teachers use in their classrooms, and their teaching experiences.

You can download the book here.

And More..

Visit our Resource page to view all our publications, including an e-resource booklet on careers in science, collections showcasing the diversity of articles published on IndiaBioscience, compendia of our articles, and more.

Coming up in 2020

As we move into the next decade, we hope to continue following our motto of "Engaging Communities, Enabling Change". We look forward to your support and encouragement throughout this process. In 2020, we will continue to host webinars on IndiaBiostreams, release podcasts on IndiaBiospeaks, bring you new and exciting research stories, discuss issues relevant to Indian science, conduct surveys to understand the pulse of the community, organize events to facilitate networking, mentorship, and capacity building, and keep bringing you updated information on Jobs, Grants, and Events within the Indian science ecosystem through our website.

As always, we can write to us anytime at hello@indiabioscience.org, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. We love hearing from you! Wishing you all a happy, productive and science-filled new year ahead.

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