Updated: August 3, 2020 9:02:50 am
After four months of inactivity, laboratories at Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Pune, will slowly come alive with experiments and research activities later this month.
The nationwide lockdown due to the pandemic had forced all the residential students to vacate the campus and the institute had shut down its research activities. Barring a handful of essential research work contributing towards the fight against Covid-19, major researches have been on hold since mid-March.
In May, a Covid-19 testing facility was set up in partnership with Savitribai Phule Pune University. Last week, this centre completed 11,000 tests.
Sanjeev Galande, dean, Research and Development, told The Indian Express, “We received the ministry’s approval to restart research. Students have been informed and laboratory-based activities will begin later this month.”
The institute has chalked out elaborate plans as it gears up to host students back on the campus. “Students whose doctoral studies are in advanced stages have been given preference. The plan is to resume research by gradually increasing the number of researchers working in our labs during the next two to three months,” said Harinath Chakrapani, convenor, Covid-19 Task Force.
Initially, 50 students will report at the institute. “Since students involved in theoretical research do not necessarily need to work at labs, the institute could facilitate remote access to systems, so that they too can continue work remotely,” said Galande.
The interiors of the laboratories have undergone minor modifications with spaces earmarked in line with the SOPs required for maintaining physical distancing inside laboratories.
With the number of tests having been scaled up, more student volunteers would be required in order to keep the centre’s operations going. Galande said, “Having students back in the labs, the planned Covid-19 related research will also pick up pace.”
But the challenge ahead for the students remains the timely completion of their doctoral studies, as many of them have their fellowships expiring this year. Students here are pursuing studies through funding obtained either from Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), University Grants Commission (UGC) or Department of Science and Technology (DST).
“This is a crucial period as many students have lost out nearly five months due to the pandemic. Regarding the fellowship, we have written to the ministry but are yet to hear anything on the matter,” Galande said
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