National Research Award for Amrita’s Dean-Research
March 4, 2011
Health Sciences Campus, Kochi
Marking a notable achievement in the history of the young Amrita Vidya Peetham, its Dean of Research, Dr. Shantikumar Nair received the prestigious National Research Award from the Ministry of Science and Technology in New Delhi on February 28, 2011.
This award given to one scientist in India every year was bestowed upon Amrita’s Dr. Nair for his spectacular contributions to the emerging field of nanosciences and nanotechnology.
The award was handed over to Dr. Nair by Professor C. N. R. Rao, Honorary President of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) and Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister of India.
The award ceremony was conducted in Delhi at the campus of the Indian Institute of Technology.
“My inspiration is Sri Mata Amritanandamayi, Amma,” stated Dr. Nair in his award lecture. “She symbolizes sacrifice and caring for people which should be at the heart of any real research.”
Explaining that research was about inspiration, and meditation or concentration on the task at hand, he said that one needed the courage to think out-of-the-box and have the desire to make a positive impact on the lives of ordinary people.
“My first experience of thinking out-of-the-box came during my Ph.D. research at Columbia University,” he stated. “I was working on embrittlement of materials. Whereas conventional wisdom had it that hydrogen embrittled materials, I had a hunch that hydrogen may actually make some materials more ductile. I investigated this idea and found it to be true in many cases.”
Shortly after completing his Ph.D., Dr. Nair was awarded the Presidential Young Investigator Award from President Ronald Reagan for his research in composite materials. A successful teaching and research career followed, that spanned nearly two decades in the United States.
About five years ago, Dr. Nair moved back to India, joining Amrita to set up what soon became India’s flagship bio-nano center.
Funded by India’s Nano Mission, the center became known world-wide for its pioneering research in tissue engineering and stem cell research.
“Thinking out-of-the-box is what has helped us,” Dr. Nair, continued. “Tissue engineering is a complex and exciting area of designing and growing tissues ex-vivo from synthetic scaffolds. Nanomedicines are actually complex devices with extraordinary potential in areas such as cancer to make a real difference for suffering people.”
In addition to Professor C. N. R. Rao, present at the award ceremony were Dr. Ramasami, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology and prominent Indian scientists who are part of India’s Nano Mission.
Dr. Nair is not only the Dean of Research, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham that has campuses in Kochi, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Kollam and Mysore, but also the Director of the Amrita Center for Nanosciences, which recently began a successful foray in investigating nanotechnology applications for solar photovoltaic cells.
Amrita is proud of his achievement!