Scholarships bring India’s best research students to Melbourne

MELBOURNE, July 30: Cutting-edge research in chemistry, biotechnology, bioinformatics and physics took centre stage today at an event showcasing the work being undertaken by Indian doctoral students studying in Melbourne as part of a Victorian Coalition Government’s scholarship program.
Innovation, Services and Small Business Minister Louise Asher said the high quality of the research presented at the Knowledge Exchange event demonstrated the success of the Victoria India Doctoral Scholarships (VIDS) in attracting India’s best and brightest students to Victorian universities.

“This exciting scholarships program is playing a key role in strengthening education links between India and Victoria,” Ms Asher said.

“Through the VIDS program, participating Indian doctoral students gain access to Victoria’s world class research facilities, and make a significant contribution our state’s research and academic knowledge.”

Established in 2012, the Victoria India Doctoral Scholarships provides scholarships of $90,000 over three years to outstanding Indian doctoral students, and Victorian host universities waive their tuition fees.

To date, 20 scholarships have been awarded, with 10 students commencing studies in 2012 and a further 10 commencing this year. The program is being delivered by the Australia India Institute on behalf of the Coalition Government, and in partnership with Victoria’s nine universities.

Today’s VIDS Knowledge Exchange featured presentations by:

Abishek Suresh (RMIT University) – Computational Design of Neuroactive Peptides Abishek’s research uses bioinformatics techniques to better understand neuronal nicotinic receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for the regulation and release of important neurotransmitters such as dopamine and glutamate, and the effective transmission of neuro-signals.
However, in the elderly, these receptors seem to malfunction and are linked to common neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Schizophrenia and Neuralgia.

Sayali Shah (The University of Melbourne) – Dissecting the mechanism of N-glycan processing enzyme endomannosidase Sayali’s research is focused on the synthesis of natural products from the pathogenic bacterium M. tuberculosis. This bacterium is a cause of tuberculosis, which killed 1.4 million people in 2011. The research aims to develop new ways to synthesize immunogenic natural products that can be used to provide a detailed insight into how this organism causes disease.

Debabrata Sikdar (Monash University) – Engineering the plasmonic response of nanoparticle systems Debabrata’s research focuses on how tailoring the size, shape, and composition of a sub-wavelength noble metallic nanoparticle contributes to resonance states in a particle’s optical response. These issues are being investigated using analytical and numerical techniques in order to analyse the behaviour of realistic plasmonic devices and systems, and develop simple design guidelines.

Jyotsna Nagpal (Latrobe University) – Molecular Dissection of Mycobateria. ClpP: Assembly, Activation, Cofactors and Physiological Targets Jyotsna’s PhD project involves studying novel proteins believed to be involved in the reoccurrence of the disease tuberculosis. Jyotsna plans to characterise these proteins and target them with a wide range of known drugs.