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Application

Program Highlights

  • Enjoy the program run by eminent faculty and Ashoka University’s well-known academic quality.
  • Explore a variety of exciting participating labs and some fascinating and innovative research.
  • Discover the cultural, natural and historical diversity of India through trips
  • Opportunity to meet and interact in forums beyond the lab in the form of social, cultural, and sports activities including Bike-Rides, Movie Nights, Water Polo, Delhi Cultural Tours

 

Projects

Impact of diet on behavioral traits and aging

Faculty: Sudipta Tung, Fellow, Department of Biology, Ashoka University

Co-supervisor name: NONE

Department/Research Centre: Biology

Project Description: This research project aims to investigate the impact of various dietary regimes on aging and behavior in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, a key model in aging research due to its short lifespan and genetic similarities to mammalian aging. The study will involve creating multiple diet groups with different nutrient compositions and caloric contents, breeding Drosophila in controlled environments, and analyzing changes in behavior, lifespan, and molecular aging markers. Behavioral analysis will focus on activity levels, social interaction, and cognitive functions, while lifespan studies will correlate dietary conditions with longevity. The significance of this study lies in its potential to enhance our understanding of the diet-aging-behavior nexus, with broad implications for health and longevity in organisms, including humans.

Duration (in weeks): 8 weeks (between May – August)

Start date: 6/1/2024.

End date: 7/31/2024

Level of Interns: Senior Undergraduates OR Master’s Students

Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 3

Project type: Lab project

Technical skill/knowledge requisites: Nil

Optimising workflow for tissue specific knockdown of cytoskeletal genes in C. elegans

Faculty: Anup Padmanabhan, Assistant Professor of Biology, Co-ordinator (Ph.D. program in Biology) Ashoka University

Co-supervisor name: NONE

Department/Research Centre: Biology

Project Description: C. elegans is a widely used model organism to study various questions in cell biology. This project requires participant to (1) generate C.elegans strains that is capable of tissue specific RNAi mediated knockdown of target genes , (2) cloning of RNAi plasmid containing specific fragments of genes to be knocked down, (3) validation of the tissue specific knockdown of some of these genes

The participant will be trained to handle C. elegans, C. elegans genetics, PCR, cloning and basic microscopy for estimating knockdown efficiency. A prior experience in any of the techniques above will make it easier and faster to accomplish the goals.

Duration (in weeks): 10 weeks (15 June – 24 August)

Start date: 6/15/2024.

End date: 8/24/2024

Level of Interns: Senior Undergraduates or Master’s Students

Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 1

Project type: Lab project

Technical skill/knowledge requisites: Basic Cell Biology, experience in molecular biology is added advantage.

Role of mitochondria in cell proliferation and differentiaton

Faculty: Kasturi Mitra, Associate Professor of Biology, Ashoka University

Co-supervisor name: NONE

Department/Research Centre: Biology

Project Description: Other than playing a central role in energetics, mitochondria are also crucial for cellular redox balance, calcium homeostasis, lipid modification and regulation of cell death in various developmental contexts. Mitochondrial structure has been found to be dynamic particularly in various proliferating cells. They exist in different inter-convertible forms resulting from fission-fusion events between individual mitochondria, significance of which is far from clear. Currently, we are focused on understanding the significance of mitochondrial dynamism in cell proliferation and differentiation. A set of proteins that govern either fusion or fission of mitochondrial inner and outer membranes have been characterized and it is their activities that decide the steady state mitochondrial morphology in a cell; when fission dominates mitochondria remain as small fragmented elements and when fusion dominates mitochondria coalesced into larger hyperfused forms. In mitotic cells the key cell cycle regulators modulate mitochondrial morphology during progression through a mitotic cycle, which in turn modulates cell cycle. We use various kinds of biochemical, cell biological, microscopy and genetic tools to understand if the mitochondrial fission-fusion proteins can regulate cell proliferation, deregulation of which could initiate or maintain tumorigenic processes. We use our favorite model systems, mammalian cell lines and Drosophila, in a complementary fashion.

Duration (in weeks): 10 weeks (15 June – 24 August)

Start date: 6/15/2024

End date: 8/24/2024

Level of Interns: Senior Undergraduates or Master’s Students

Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 2

Project type: Lab project

Technical skill/knowledge requisites: Knowledge of core biological processes. We are interested in students who would be interested in getting trained to perform bench or experiments or data analyses by themselves during the summer. We do not encourage mere shadowing.

Co-Benefits of Largescale Organic Farming On HuMan Health - The BLOOM study

Faculty: Dr Poornima Prabhakaran, Director, Centre for Health Analytics Research and Trends (CHART), Trivedi School of Biosciences

Co-supervisor name: Dr Nikhil Srinivasapura Venkateshmurthy

Department/Research Centre: Centre for Health Analytics Research and Trends (CHART)

Project Description: India is a largely agrarian country with 42% of adults employed in agriculture. In the 1960s, in order to reduce reliance on food aid, the Government of India promoted large-scale monocropping with hybrid seeds and the use of agrochemicals across the country. Though green revolution increases the yield, Indian agriculture is in distress. Since 1995, over 250,000 farmers in India have committed suicide with armer debt from increasing input costs and decreasing returns cited as the underlying cause.

It was in this context that Andhra Pradesh, a state in southern India, passed a government order known as ‘Zero-Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)’ in 2016 – now formally, ‘Andhra Pradesh Community-managed Natural Farming’ (APCNF). The APCNF programme focuses on reducing synthetic chemical inputs and improving soil health, whilst also promoting crop diversity and the use of indigenous plant varieties. The programme aims to reach all farmers in Andhra Pradesh (~6 million) and stay engaged with them to achieve 100% ‘chemical-free agriculture’ across the state by 2024. This is a timely opportunity to evaluate the world’s largest organic farming programme in terms of its impacts on human health.

Objectives:

Primary Objective: To determine if the APCNF programme in Andhra Pradesh results in lower urinary pesticides, higher dietary diversity, equivalent crop yields, and equivalent total household income, as compared to standard agricultural practices in Andhra Pradesh.

Secondary Objectives: To determine whether the APCNF programme improves adult (>25 years) glycaemia (quantified as fasting blood glucose [FBG]), kidney function (quantified as estimated glomerular filtration rate [eGFR]), and self-reported symptoms (musculoskeletal pain, headache, respiratory symptoms, dermatological symptoms, and depression), and, in children under 3 years of age, growth (length-for-age z-score) and cognitive development (quantified as Caregiver Reported Early Development Index [CREDI]).

Methodology:

We will conduct a community-based, cluster-randomised controlled evaluation of APCNF in 80 clusters across four districts of Andhra Pradesh (Kurnool, Nandyal, Visakhapatnam and Anakapalli). Clusters will be the unit of randomisation; intervention households will receive training in APCNF practices by Rythu Sadhikara Samstha, a not-for-profit established by the Government of Andhra Pradesh.

Duration (in weeks): 8 weeks (1 July – 23 August)

Start date: 7/1/2024

End date: 8/23/2024

Level of Interns: Senior Undergraduates or Master’s Students

Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 1

Project type: Field project

Technical skill/knowledge requisites: NONE

Consortium for Climate, Health and AIr pollution Research in India (CHAIR-India)

Faculty: Dr Poornima Prabhakaran, Director, Centre for Health Analytics Research and Trends (CHART), Trivedi School of Biosciences

Co-supervisor name: NONE

Department/Research Centre: Centre for Health Analytics Research and Trends

Project Description: The overarching aim of this project is to realize sustainable goals on a global level linking air pollution and climate change with health. We aim to generate actionable evidence highlighting synergies and conflicts between global sustainable development goals of climate action, reducing air pollution and promoting better health, while interacting with key stakeholders. We will leverage cutting-edge methodologies, already developed for Delhi, using multiple sources for 1×1 km predictions of fine particulate matter pollution and temperature across India. Linking this data to health datasets, we will study associations of long-term air pollution and temperature with mortality and cardiometabolic and respiratory disease in rural and urban India. To foster public awareness, collaboration and policy change, we will also provide an interactive web-tool, open access to environmental data, and an ambitious stakeholder communications and engagement strategy.

Our specific aims are (in parenthesis are the SDGs they address):

  1. To develop a nation-wide exposure model for daily ambient PM2.5 and ambient temperature from 2008-2020 at a spatial resolution of 1kmx1km and locally at 200m x 200m in India. (SDG 11.6, 13)
  2. Link our national estimates of PM2.5 and temperature to health data to quantify the associations between PM2.5 and ambient temperature, independently and jointly on the following major public health endpoints: Total mortality (SDG 3), Cardiometabolic outcomes (SDG 3.4), Lung function (SDG 3.4).
  3. Create a public website with environmental data on a 1 x 1 km grid that can be used by planners, policy-makers, and the general public to increase awareness and aid decision-making (SDGs 17.9, 3.D, 13.2, 13.3, 13.B).
  4. Specifically engage with key stakeholders using a dedicated communications strategy that will increase the efficiency of the project, disseminate results well beyond the scientific community and facilitate translation of the project deliverables into policy action.

Duration (in weeks): 8 weeks (between May – August)

Start date: 5/15/2024

End date: 7/15/2024

Level of Interns: Master’s Students

Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 2

Project type: ONLINE

Technical skill/knowledge requisites: Handling complex datasets, coding proficiency in statistical software (R etc)

Biomimetic Electrocatalysts for Generation of hydrogen

Faculty: Munmun Ghosh, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Ashoka University

Co-supervisor name: Bharath M (PhD student)

Department/Research Centre: Chemistry

Project Description: The world’s increasing energy demands have led to a shift towards sustainable resources, which entails moving away from fossil fuels as the primary source of energy. One of the major challenges that persist is the efficient and reliable storage of energy harvested from renewable sources like solar, wind etc. As a result, the development of chemical feedstocks that can substitute fossil fuels has become an area of significant research interest. Dihydrogen generation through clean and renewable resources stands out as a promising solution to address this concern. Nature’s handling of interconversion of proton (H+) to dihydrogen (H2) with H2ase (Hydrogenase) enzymes featuring either [Fe–Fe] or [Ni–Fe] core has inspired the bioinorganic chemists to mimic the structure and function of enzymatic active site. 

In our laboratory at Ashoka University, we synthesize catalysts to functionally mimic the H2ase enzyme to produce H2 electrochemically. We thoroughly study the mechanisms of the reaction, identify the intermediate spectroscopically, tune the ligand, and modify the catalysts. For this project, particularly I want to focus on heterogeneous electrocatalysis. The initial homogeneous catalysis results showed a great outcome, but very promising results were observed when the catalysts are electro grafted on the electrode surface.  We want to explore the project in detail. The intern will work with the Ph.D. student and learn how to heterogeneous the molecular catalysts on the electrode surface. Screen the first set of catalysts for the best, study the mechanism of the reaction. 

Reference

Exploring the multifarious role of ligand in electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution reaction pathways Pankaj Kumar, Vyom Prakash Tyagi, Munmun Ghosh* Just accepted. Chem. Eur. J. DOI: 10.1002/chem.202302195 

Duration (in weeks): 10 weeks (15 June – 24 August)

Start date: 6/1/2024

End date: 8/31/2024

Level of Interns: Senior Undergraduates or Master’s Students

Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 1

Project type: Lab project

Technical skill/knowledge requisites: Chemistry knowledge about redox, catalysis

Impact of free-ranging dogs on a carnivore community in the Indian Himalaya

Faculty: Manvi Sharma, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies,

Co-supervisor name: Pooja Chand

Department/Research Centre: Environmental Studies

Project Description: Land-use change is modifying wildlife habitats at unprecedented rates and studies predict that most of the wildlife is likely to be redistributed globally in this century. Changing land-use patterns has consequences for the behaviour, ecology, and abundance of wildlife populations, especially for large mammalian carnivores. A major anthropogenic stressor affecting carnivore populations is the threats posed by populations of free-ranging dogs in rapidly urbanising mountains. Current research suggests that free-ranging dogs not only compete indirectly with native carnivores over prey, but have direct effects, such as killing and attacking mesocarnivores, such as red fox. We lack in our understanding of overall community-wide impact of dogs on carnivore communities. This study aims to investigate the impact of free-ranging dog populations on the carnivore community in Himalaya. The study involves using camera-traps and playback speakers to quantify the nature of behavioural responses of carnivores to dog barks. The study will be conducted at our field site in Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) in Himachal Pradesh. The GHNP region is home to a complex carnivore community including snow leopards, common leopard, brown bear, black bear, yellow-throated marten, red fox, civet, leopard card, and jungle. The student will deploy camera-traps paired with playback speakers which will play dog calls. The videos will be transcribed to quantify carnivore response of the species mentioned above. This study will help us in understanding how dogs might have a diverse range of consequences on the carnivore community in Himalaya. Through this study the student will gain experience in conducting camera-trapping surveys to study wild carnivore populations, such as snow leopards. The student will experience how a research question is framed and an ecological field study is designed to address the question. The student will learn how camera-trap data are analysed for making inferences using statistical models.

Duration (in weeks): 10 weeks (15 June – 24 August)

Start date: 6/15/2024

End date: 8/24/2024

Level of Interns: Senior Undergraduates or Master’s Students

Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 2

Project type: Field project

Technical skill/knowledge requisites: Motivation to travel to a remote mountain valley

Measure the magnetic hysteresis loop of a magnetic hetero structure using MOKE magnetometry

Faculty: Susmita Saha, Assistant Professor of Physics

Co-supervisor name: NONE

Department/Research Centre: Physics

Project Description: Studying the magnetization reversal of the magnetic hetero structures provides insights into their magnetic behavior, allowing for the optimization and tailoring of their magnetic properties. This knowledge aids in the design of improved high performance high-performance spintronic devices . The student need to use the magneto optical Kerr microscope set up present in the Complex magnetic characterization lab at Ashoka University to measure the hysteresis loop of a ferromagnetic hetero structure. The student also need to simulate the observations with the help of micromagentic simulator to explain the results.

Duration (in weeks): 8 weeks (between May – August)

Start date: 6/15/2024

End date: 8/10/2024

Level of Interns: Senior Undergraduates or Master’s Students

Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 1

Project type: Lab project

Technical skill/knowledge requisites: basic knowledge of Condensed matter Physics, and programming

From suspicion to revenge: A multidimensional framework of Fear speech and its relationships with sharing intentions and truth perceptions

Faculty: Sramana Majumdar, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Ashoka University

Co-supervisor name: NONE

Department/Research Centre: Psychology

Project Description: Based on the idea that it is often fear, implicit suspicion, and doubt that are used to appraise communal prejudices rather than explicit hate or hateful call to action – this study aimed to create and validate a multidimensional framework for fear speech. We experimentally tested various intensities of fear speech messaging, how they are perceived, believed and likely shared.  Through this, the study aims to move beyond the current framework of hate speech, provide a greater understanding of fear as a motivator of online disinformation and highlight implicit forms of dangerous speech that are left out of content moderation efforts and hate speech discourses. In the next phase we hope to combine psychological theory with computational modelling tools to map our framework on larger online datasets and visualize, identify and detect multiple dimensions of fear speech. 

Duration (in weeks): 8 weeks

Start date: 6/1/2024

End date: 8/31/2024

Level of Interns: Senior Undergraduates or Master’s Students

Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 2

Project type: Lab project(The project will be a combination of lab and online work)

Technical skill/knowledge requisites: Data analytics, computational modelling, advanced experimental and quant data analysis

Understanding Domestic Violence with complex trauma theory

Faculty: Simantani Ghosh, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University

Co-supervisor name: Maitrayee Sen

Department/Research Centre: Psychology

Project Description: Violence against women, particularly in the form of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), remains a grave concern worldwide. IPV not only inflicts physical harm but also leaves enduring psychological repercussions. The World Health Organization reported that, as of 2018, approximately one in three women globally experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate or non-intimate partner.

In India, Intimate Partner Violence takes on a broader dimension and has to be defined in terms of domestic violence (DV). DV in the South Asian context is deeply entrenched in cultural norms that subordinate women to men, reflecting prevalence rates similar to global figures. However, the nature of abuse extends beyond the conventional understanding of IPV, as Indian women often cohabit with not just their spouses but also marital relatives who can be perpetrators. Emergent data suggests that domestic violence among married women reportedly doubled between 2014-15 and 2019, despite NFHS surveys more or less replicating the WHO statistics (1 in 3 women, approximately) with respect to DV exposure.

Episodic framing of issues pertaining to domestic violence, as is common in the literature, fails to capture the nuanced psychological consequences of sustained, and repetitive domestic violence. Researchers argue for a continuous trauma framework to better map the pervasive and chronic nature of domestic violence in India. The complex trauma theory, initially developed for childhood sexual abuse survivors, emerges as a relevant lens for understanding the multilayered trauma experienced by Indian women.

Complex trauma theory posits that prolonged, inescapable trauma results in psychological disturbances beyond those defined by the clinical construct of PTSD. For Indian women, the pervasive environment of control, oppression, and abuse throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood aligns with the criteria of complex trauma. Our preliminary data (unpublished) also suggests that ever partnered Indian women trapped in abusive relationships often display psychological disturbances that are well aligned with the disorders of self organization (DSO) cluster of symptoms that complex trauma theory accommodates, that include interpersonal disturbances, negative self concept and extensive somatic symptoms.

In this study we ask the overarching question whether Complex Trauma theory can be utilized to investigate consequences of domestic violence in ever partnered adult Indian women.

Duration (in weeks): 10 weeks

Start date: 6/15/2024

End date: 8/24/2024

Level of Interns: Senior Undergraduates or Master’s Students

Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 3

Project type: Combination of field & lab project

Technical skill/knowledge requisites: Statistics (Regression, Mediation.Moderation), Psychometrics, Psychological Trauma.

The project will require knowledge of quantitative statistics, especially regression, mediation and moderation, and psychometric assessment. Participants will learn about unique cross-cultural moderations and nuances of conduction participatory action research in the global south

Quantitative and economic social choice behaviour in zebrafish

Faculty: Bittu K R, Associate Professor of Biology and Psychology,

Co-supervisor name: NONE

Department/Research Centre: Biology and Psychology

Project Description: The overall goal of these projects is to examine the ways in which quantitative cognition functions in the zebrafish system. One set of projects looks at economic rationality in zebrafish social decision making relative to decoy effects, internal hunger states and social boldness. A second project works on movement perception and quantitative cognition by zebrafish larvae in the context of social decision making as well as foraging and predator evasion. A third project looks at stress and social choices, to explore the ways in which stress impacts various traits we are interested in zebrafish: learning, social decision making, and foraging behaviour. We use stressful dominance/submissive dyadic interactions, social isolation, neuroinflammation and chronic unpredictable early life stress protocols to look into the mechanisms behind stress-induced analgesia and resilience in zebrafish larvae as well. A fourth project quantifies optimism bias in an animal model and set up an assay for how various factors influence that bias. A fifth project quantifies the ecological dis/advantages and metabolic markers of depressive behaviour to quantify the ecological costs and benefits of different behavioural strategies in zebrafish.

Duration (in weeks): 8 weeks (between May – August)

Start date: 5/20/2024

End date: 8/12/2024

Level of Interns: Senior Undergraduates or Master’s Students

Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 3

Project type: Combination of field & lab project

Technical skill/knowledge requisites: Just enthusiasm is required – any additional skills or knowledge is a bonus but not a prerequisite.

Impact of habitat degradation on small mammal microbiome

Faculty: Balaji Chattopadhyay,  Assistant Professor, Trivedi School of Biosciences

Co-supervisor name: NONE

Department/Research Centre: Trivedi School of Biosciences

Project Description: One of the unintended consequences of human mediated habitat destruction is the potential threat to humans and livestock from emerging zoonotic diseases. With the frequency of zoonotic diseases increasing significantly in the past two decades, understanding the potential causes of spillovers and anticipating hotspots for future outbreaks can collectively help in disease prevention thereby saving thousands of lives as well as financial resources. Among mammals, bats and rodents arguably harbor most diverse array of viruses with the potential for transmission into humans and other wildlife. They form a unique study system to investigate mechanisms of infection avoidance and to identify factors that facilitates spill-over of pathogens.

To accurately predict future zoonotic outbreaks, one needs to first understand the causes and mechanisms of spillover, particularly the association between climate change (including habitat alterations), biodiversity and pathogen movement. While our knowledge in this regard is improving, identifying the exact variables and their interactions has proven difficult. Both climate change and habitat degradation have been implicated to interact with species biology in aiding spillover through intermediate hosts such as livestock. The main research aim is to understand the impact of habitat degradation and climate change on small mammal microbiome community and transmission of pathogens between hosts.

Duration (in weeks): 10 weeks (15 June – 24 August)

Start date: 6/15/2024

End date: 6/15/2024

Level of Interns: Senior Undergraduates or Master’s Students

Max Number of interns accepted on this project: 2

Project type: Combination of field & lab project

Technical skill/knowledge requisites: Knowledge of R and command line is helpful

Accommodation & Campus Facilities

  • All international visiting students are guaranteed campus accommodation in fully-furnished residence halls with laundry service.
  • Rooms are on double-occupancy basis.
  • Students receive a meal plan (buffet and combo meals) at the dining facilities of Ashoka.
  • Campus facilities includes library, free shuttle, sport facilities, infirmary, health services and more

Internship Cell

Contact

  • If you have questions about the Ashoka International Summer Research Programme (AISRP), please contact: summer.vsp@ashoka.edu.in

  • Email:

    summer.vsp@ashoka.edu.in
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