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Ashoka Biology Ph.D. Scholar Awarded the Prestigious American Society of Naturalists Student Research Award 2024

Biswajit Shit, a third year Ph.D.student in Biology at Ashoka University has been honoured the esteemed 2024 ASN student research award

Biswajit Shit, a third year Ph.D. student working under the supervision of Prof. Imroze Khan in the Department of Biology, Ashoka University, has been awarded the American Society of Naturalists (ASN) Student Research Award 2024. Notably, he is the only Indian student to receive this prestigious award, with the other winners hailing from major institutions, including Ivy League universities. This distinction highlights the impactful research taking place at Ashoka University.

His proposal titled “Tracking the evolution of immune responses and mutation rates during adaptation to chronic thermal stress and pathogenic infection,” has received high praise from the jury members. Biswajit’s research focuses on the evolution of immunity and germline maintenance in response to current global warming scenarios. Germline maintenance refers to the processes that preserve the integrity of genetic material in reproductive cells across generations. It ensures the accurate transmission of hereditary traits to offspring.

The rise in global temperatures pose a critical concern for global health, particularly regarding infectious diseases. Temperature variability can disrupt host immunity, increase host cytotoxicity, and lead to more DNA damage, resulting in the accumulation of more deleterious mutations in the germline. Under such conditions, organisms need to evolve an efficient immune system and implement better post-infection germline maintenance strategy. Biswajit is exploring this area using an experimental evolution approach while also investigating its mechanistic basis.

The grant will support Biswajit’s research by funding critical components such as laboratory tools and materials. It will provide essential backing for data collection, analysis, and dissemination, contributing to a fundamental understanding of research on global climate change.

The American Society of Naturalists (ASN) is the oldest scientific society focused on the exploration of ecology, evolution, and behavior. Its goal is to promote and disseminate knowledge of organic evolution and other fundamental biological concepts, aiming to strengthen the conceptual integration of the biological sciences. ASN is considered to be one of the renowned ecology and evolutionary biology societies.

Ashoka University congratulates Biswajit for this remarkable achievement. His recognition by the ASN exemplifies Ashoka University’s commitment to research excellence. His impactful work underscores the significance of interdisciplinary collaboration in addressing pressing environmental challenges. As he continues his scientific journey, Biswajit’s contributions promise to further enrich our understanding of the complex interplay between climate change and biodiversity.

(Written by Dr Yukti Arora, Senior Manager, Research and Development Office, Ashoka University)

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