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Ph.D. Programme in Biology

The Department of Biological Sciences at Ashoka University invites students to carry out cutting-edge research through its Ph.D. program in Biological Sciences. Six broad thematic areas characterize our research

1. Biophysics and Biochemistry

2. Cell and Developmental Biology

3. Chronobiology and Cognitive Neuroscience

4. Immunology and Synthetic Biology

5. Mathematical and Computational Biology

6. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

These thematic areas encompass the diversity in biological systems – in both length and complexity. State-of-the-art research facilities and a unique liberal arts environment allow Ph.D. students to work on inter-disciplinary research projects drawing on the expertise of faculty members within and beyond the Biology Department.

Admission to the Ph.D. program

The admission to the program is scheduled in the beginning of Monsoon Semester (Aug-1).  Details regarding Ph. D opportunities with application deadlines are advertised in prominent web space (such as Ashoka website, IndiaBioscience, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.) and leading newspapers. Additionally, flyers are distributed to all major institutions throughout the country. The number of Ph.D. students admitted varies from year to year and depend on the available positions in the department and also the merit of candidates.

  • From Admission to Candidacy (1st and 2nd Year)

    Orientation

    The incoming cohort of Ph.D students will undergo a half-day departmental orientation. During this orientation session,

    1. All faculty members intending to recruit Ph.D students will give a 20-minute presentation highlighting their research and possible Ph.D projects in their group. This will allow all the incoming students to get an overall idea of various research opportunities in the department.

    2. The students will be apprised of the Ph.D. program, various timelines, course requirements and laboratory policies.

    Appointment of Supervisor

    Thereafter, the students will be encouraged to interact with as many faculty members they deem necessary to decide on a Ph.D. supervisor. A maximum of two faculty members may co-supervise a student, one of who should be from the department of biological sciences. The other co-supervisor with an expertise relevant to the student’s proposed research, maybe from any department within or outside Ashoka University. The student will formally e-mail the Ph.D program coordinator their first three choices for faculty supervisor within 4 weeks of the admission date.

    The Coordinator (Biological Sciences Ph.D. Program) will assign each student a faculty supervisor in consultation with the faculty committee of the department.

    In the event that two or more students have the same faculty as their choice, then it would be up to the faculty to pick student(s) depending on positions available in the lab.

    Formation of the Student Research Committee (SRC)

    The student, in consultation with the primary faculty supervisor (and co-supervisor, if any), should select a committee consisting of two persons in addition to the primary faculty supervisor (and co-supervisor, if any) to serve as the Student Research Committee (SRC). One of the non-supervisory members will act as the chairperson. This will be communicated to the Ph.D. program coordinator.

    Roles of the SRC – The role(s) of SRC comprises (but is not limited to) the following

    • The SRC functions to assist supervisors in providing guidance and advice on students’ research, by complementing the expertise of supervisor/s. SRC members will read the required progress reports, judge whether there is satisfactory progress through the program, and approve the reports.

    • They actively mentor the student in case of supervisor’s non-availability or during disputes between supervisors and the student. Therefore, the SRC members should be reasonably accessible to students when called upon for discussion of students’ academic progress or for consultation on issues related to the research project and for general guidance.

    • Students are encouraged to meet informally with SRC members for academic or research matters as well as seek advice on career options.

    Coursework

    The graduate courses offered by the department are listed below*.

    1. Research Methodology (Mandatory)

    2. Graduate Seminar Series in Biological Sciences (Mandatory)

    3. Programming in Biology

    4. Advanced Biochemistry and Biophysics

    5. Bioimaging and Quantitative Methods in Biology

    6. Advanced Cell Biology

    7. Advanced Molecular Biology

    8. Concepts in Mechanobiology

    9. Current Advances in Developmental Biology

    10. Plant and Microbial Development

    11. Evolutionary Biology

    12. Biostatistics

    13. Immunology

    14. Chemical and synthetic biology

    15. Next-generation sequencing data analysis

    16. Macromolecular structure determination

    17. Host-pathogen interaction

    18. DNA replication and repair

    19. Specificity in gene expression

    20. Cell signalling

    21. Ecological Modelling

     (*Some of the courses may not be offered every year. Please contact the relevant faculty for updated information)

    Students with an MPhil/MTech degree are required to complete at least 8 credits of 600-level course work (2-3 courses) within 18 months from the date of admission. Students with an MSc/MA/Mcom/BTech must complete at least 24 credits (6-8 courses) of 600-level course work within 18 months from the date of admission. Students may take graduate courses (level 600) within or outside of the department that would provide the necessary breadth and depth of knowledge to undertake proposed research. However, all students must compulsorily take the course on Research Methodology and Graduate Seminar Series in Biological Sciences.

    The department of biological sciences requires all students to demonstrate good academic standing and maintain a minimum grade of 7.5/10 (3.0 /4.0) at the end of their coursework.

    A national or international workshop or summer/winter school may be considered for credit only if it constitutes at least 40h of direct contact hours and involves some form of assessment and or grading.

    Graduate Assistantship 

    All PhD students who have been awarded Graduate Assistantship established by Ashoka University or those receiving scholarship from UGC or “partner” organizations are expected to work for 8 hours/week assisting with teaching courses. Assistance in teaching will include (among others) grading assignments, quizzes, or lab reports, data collection and/or analysis, and maintenance of LMS. Students may contact individual faculty members for TA-ship opportunities. Ph.D students are required to assist as a Graduate Assistant in at least four courses (lectures or lab). Out of the four, it is mandatory that the students complete at least two assistantships prior to taking oral qualifying examination.

  • Formal Admission to Ph.D. Candidate Status

    A student will be formally admitted to the Ph.D. candidature status upon fulfilling the following criteria.

    1. Satisfied all course requirements

    2. Completed mandatory TA-ship hours

    3. Cleared Oral Qualifying Examination (OQE)

    The oral examination is intended to test specific knowledge about the research field and the dissertation project that the student intends to embark upon. The student should clear the OQE no later than 24 months after admission.

    The Ph.D. qualifying examination will consist of two components,

    1. A thesis proposal report, which clearly provides comprehensive background literature, aim/s of the dissertation research, planned methodologies, preliminary data to indicate feasibility of the proposed research and future directions to be taken. The report is to be submitted to the SRC at least 2-weeks prior to the oral qualifying examination.

    2. The student should present and defend their thesis research proposal before the SRC to qualify for candidacy. This oral defense is open to the Ashoka community, while the audience will be excused for closed-door discussions between the student and the SRC.

    The SRC will decide if the student has cleared the oral examination and can transfer to the Ph.D. program.

    If the SRC unanimously feels that the student has failed the examination, the student may not be recommended for Ph.D. candidature.

    In the event that the SRC feels that the student needs to demonstrate satisfactory performance in the qualifying examination and/or the coursework, the SRC will communicate the deficiencies to the student and provide recommendations. These may include taking additional courses and/or revising research questions and re-appearing for the qualifying examination. In such a scenario, the student can be given a ‘conditional pass’. The students must comply with these recommendations within the stipulated time, failing which the candidature may be terminated.

  • Third Year and Beyond

    Annual Work Seminar Requirement

    Each student who has been confirmed as a  Ph.D. candidate, must present their work once in a year in the department, beginning in the Spring semester of their third year. Students may also present their work in seminars outside Ashoka University, with the approval of their Faculty supervisor(s).

    SRC Review

    Upon clearing their qualifying examination, the PhD student must organize an SRC meeting annually and at least two such meetings are required before a thesis can be submitted. Review meeting with SRC may be combined with the Annual Work Seminar of the student. However, SRC may request for more meetings based on the progress of the work. SRC approval is necessary for writing up the thesis and its submission.

    Dissertation Defense

    Students will be required to subject the draft dissertation to a check for plagiarism using a standard software and will be responsible for any plagiarism found after submission. The thesis will be examined by two external examiners out of five names of potential examiners suggested by SRC. The selection of the examiners will be done by the Vice-Chancellor. The Faculty supervisor(s) will also examine the thesis as examiner(s).

    Each external examiner, supervisor and co-supervisor will independently recommend one of:

    1. “the dissertation is accepted without any revision”,

    2. “the dissertation is accepted subject to suggested changes/clarifications being incorporated in the dissertation and presented at time of the viva voce examination”,

    3. “the dissertation is revised and submitted for re-examination”, or

    4. “the dissertation is rejected outright”.

    Once each external examiner and Faculty supervisor recommends either 1) or 2), the department (HOD) will formally conduct a viva voce examination in the presence of at least one, but preferably both, external examiners. The examination will be open to all faculty members and students from Ashoka University.

    After the viva voce, a copy of the dissertation will be deposited with Ashoka University Library.

    Publication/ Patent Requirements

    The student, before submitting the thesis, should have submitted a patent or published at least ONE first author manuscript in a peer-reviewed indexed journal.

  • Timelines

    Year – 1

    • Admission

    • Compulsory coursework

    • TA-ship

    Year – 2

    • Complete coursework requirement

    • Complete TA-ship requirement

    • Comprehensive written Examination (CQE)

    • Form Student Research Committee (SRC)

    • Oral Qualifying Examination (OQE)

    • Confirmation of Ph.D Candidature

    Year – 3 till Year-6

    • Carry out Dissertation Research

    • Annual Work Seminar

    • SRC review meeting

    • Communicate your research as a manuscript / patent

    • Dissertation submission and Thesis Defense

    Students must submit their final dissertation within five years of the date of admission to the PhD Programme. Based on need or justification, an extension of up to 1 year may be recommended by the SRC, and granted by the Dean (Research).

  • Students funded by Ashoka University

    Stipend

    • The monthly stipend paid to all PhD students selected as TAs funded by Ashoka University will be Rs. 35,000 per month. The PhD Scholars are eligible for Senior Research Fellowship (SRF) upon completing their candidacy. The monthly stipend for an SRF is Rs 40,000 per month.

    • A contingency grant of Rs. 20,000 per annum will be made available to each PhD student.

    • The quantum of stipend paid to TAs will be reviewed periodically.

    Fees

    • Tuition fee: Rs. 12,500 per semester.

    • Dissertation assessment fee: Rs. 15,000 for the first time, and Rs. 5,000 the second/third time.

    • The quantum of fees paid by PhD students will be reviewed from time to time.

  • Students funded externally through fellowships from UGC, CSIR or other such organizations

    Stipend

    • The monthly stipend and annual contingency grant given to PhD students who receive a scholarship from UGC or a partner organization will be decided based on terms covering the scholarship itself.

    • An annual contingency of Rs 20,000, will be made available to each PhD student

    • Whenever there is a delay in receiving funds from the funding agencies, Ashoka University will pay in advance.

    Fees

    • University waives the semester fees

    • Dissertation assessment fee: Rs. 15,000 for the first time, and Rs. 5,000 the second/third time.

    • The quantum of fees paid by PhD students will be reviewed from time to time.

  • Financial Support to attend International Conferences

    Ashoka University offers financial assistance to all PhD scholars for presenting their research ideas/findings in reputed international conferences. This facility can be availed once by each PhD student. Maximum amount of aid is Rs 2,00,000/-.

  • Housing and Medical Insurance

    • On-campus housing will be provided to PhD students only if it is available. In case on-campus housing is not available, the University will arrange accommodation nearby and provide transport for the campus.

    •  Ashoka University facilitates medical insurance (as per university policy)

The applications for the 2022 August intake are now open

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