The Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology (MoS&T), Government of India celebrating its 50 years (1971-2022) has nominated Prof. Surajit Dhara, Professor in the School of Physics and Prof. Dr. Niyaz Ahmed, Professor in the Department of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, School of Life Sciences, at the University of Hyderabad (UoH), as Scientists Shaping Today’s India under the age of 50 years.

Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State of the Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India said, “the publication 75 under 50 Scientists Shaping Today’s India recognizes the talent and achievement of 75 men and women under the age of 50 shaping today’s India”. “The Scientists profiled in this compendium play an important part in the life of a nation that has celebrated 75 years of Independence and played a nodal role in promoting and nurturing Science and Technology activities in the country since 1971”, he added.

Expressing happiness on this occasion Prof. B J Rao, Vice Chancellor, UoH said, “I am thrilled to see our faculty Prof. Niyaz Ahmed and Prof. Surajit Dhara featured in this prestigious group of scientists and this will be as source of inspiration to the young faculty and researchers at the university”. “I am hopeful that we as an Institution of Eminence will continue to contribute to the growth and development of Science and Technology activities in India”, he added.

Prof. Surajit Dhara- Blazing a Trail

That his pioneering spirit is alive and well can be seen from the fact that after joining the University of Hyderabad, in 2006, Prof. Surajit Dhara immediately set up a modern laboratory for research in the new area of liquid crystal called bent-core liquid crystals. He made important and fundamental contributions in understanding the structure-property correlation of several bent-core liquid crystals. His work was recognized by the Indian Physics Association by conferring on him the NS Satya Murthy Memorial Award in 2012. Prof. Dhara was working on unconventional liquid crystals to find new physical effects or phenomena, which could be useful for applications. He discovered a new orientational transition in special types of liquid crystals, which are potential for new generation display and rewritable memory devices. This effort earned him the Michi-Nakata Prize by the International Liquid Crystal Society (ILCS) in 2010.

Prof. Surajit Dhara

Prof. Dhara is a recipient of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize (2020); Swarnajayanti Fellowship (2015); Chancellor Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research (2013); N. S. Satya Murthy Memorial Award for Young Scientists (2012); Michi-Nakata Prize (2010), etc.

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Prof. Niyaz Ahmed – Perseverance Pays

From his early days, Prof. Niyaz Ahmed, a Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Hyderabad, had a penchant for research and, motivated by the struggle and suffering of the rural people, he desperately wanted to work in the public health domain, especially as the Indian subcontinent is a major hub of bacterial infections. Prof. Ahmed’s expertise in microbial genomics, coupled with cell signalling studies uniquely unravelled the extent and significance of chromosomal and functional plasticity of bacteria and their relevance to survival and adaptation mechanisms underlying the emergence, transmission, carriage and/or maintenance of the pathogens in a community setting, habitats and ecosystems of relevance to human and veterinary health. With the help of high-resolution genomics, Prof. Ahmed and his team successfully unravelled the population genetic structure of important bacterial pathogens, namely, Helicobacter pylori, E. coli, Salmonella typhi and other enteric pathogens in India and globally; this gave impetus to the development of novel molecular epidemiology studies of the pathogens to understand their survival in the host and the environment, their fitness advantages, evolution and transmission dynamics. Similar studies were carried out in the context of non-enteric pathogens such as Leptospira and M. tuberculosis.

Prof. Niyaz Ahmed

Prof. Ahmed is a recipient of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize (2016); University of Hyderabad Chancellor’s Award (2015); National Bioscience Award (2011); Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology (2018); Fellow, Royal Society of Chemistry (2015)

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