A team led by early career scientist Dr. Pallabi Mitra and senior research scholar Ms. Gayatri Ramachandran from the School of Life Sciences, the University of Hyderabad, is one of the five awardees of the prestigious outreach grant among hundreds of proposals received from across India. It is 4th such nationwide outreach call (IOG4: IndiaBioscience Outreach Grant 4)) to fund and support novel ideas for sustainable science outreach by IndiaBioscience, an organization dedicated to promoting science outreach and scientific community building supported by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT, Government of India), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD, Government of India) and other like-minded organizations.
The idea for the outreach proposal came into being as a SERB-funded workshop conducted by Dr. Pallabi Mitra under the aegis of SERB scientific social responsibility (SSR) registered significant participation from the undergraduate teachers and their appreciation for the opportunity to enrich their scientific knowledge and, importantly, their desire to pass it on to their students. Dr. Pallabi joined hands with senior research scholar Ms. Gayatri, an active science outreach enthusiast who has been an undergraduate biology teacher for more than four years before joining the Ph.D. program at the University of Hyderabad. Both agreed that a teacher is one of the strongest influences in a student’s life, and a call on which career path to choose is often impacted by the kind of teachers they met during their formative years at school or college.
In addition to several brainstorming sessions, a sound groundwork for the project was also undertaken. Both Pallabi and Gayatri visited local high schools, including Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, personally and reached out to the local undergraduate science colleges to understand the requirement of an initiative where high school and undergraduate biology teachers are given an opportunity to learn and interact with scientists, science communicators, and industry experts through a series of workshops. The schools and colleges were more than willing to participate and even agreed to provide letters of support for such an initiative. A professional science communicator, Mustafa Inamdar (@ Biotech talks), was invited to join the team to help this initiative become more sustainable by making video recordings of these workshops and making them accessible as a resource to teachers across India. Thus, the proposal ‘Teach the teachers: enabling sustainable life science research through teachers’ was conceptualized. A workshop series on ‘Advances in Life Sciences’ for local high school teachers and undergraduate degree college faculties to be conducted in the School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, where scientists, University faculties, professional science communicators, illustrators, and life Science industry professionals will be engaged to better equip the teachers with new and practical pedagogical approaches which will not only help them upgrade and upskill but would eventually benefit the student community. This will also be a platform to make them aware of opportunities, careers, and avenues to be explored in the life sciences, which can then be communicated to the students. The University of Hyderabad, in this case, has the best resources to sustain this initiative, with faculties engaged in research in frontier areas of modern biology, including interdisciplinary sciences. The School of Life Sciences at the University also nestles numerous biotech and healthcare startups at its BIONEST facility, which can be an added advantage for such initiatives, providing the right interface between academia and industry.
More information on the IOG4 grant proposals and awardees may be found at