As the new Director of the Institute of Advance Studies in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati, one of the premier centers for research in the country that was established in 1979 by Assam Science Society, I find myself honored! IASST has been functioning as an autonomous research Institute under the aegis of the Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, since 2009. The IASST has a clear mandate and vision to become a center for excellence in frontiers areas of research of international standard and creation of trained manpower for advanced scientific knowledge to enhance the scientific research as well as to cater to the needs of the society. To fulfill this vision, during the past couple of years, IASST has made substantial progress in terms of generation of infrastructure and cutting edge instrument facility to reassure and support the high quality research and innovation, development of technology and scientific manpower, in addition to taking key initiatives for the welfare of the society by endorsing several outreach activities.
Strategic planning is a process that helps map a direction for fostering excellence in research and specify the ways and means for following that direction. Further, to achieve strategic planning, it is extremely essential to improve the research capability of scientists and research scholars as well as enhancing the efficiency of the non-teaching staff of the Institute. I am happy to share that cutting edge research laboratories, civil infrastructures, and residential accommodation for the scientists and staff of IASST have substantially been augmented. The construction of Central Instrumentation Facility (CIF) and GLP compliant Animal House Facility, first of its kind in North-East India, are completed and ready to function very soon. Several high-end sophisticated research equipment, for example, Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), GC-MS-MS, Time-Resolved Fluorescence Spectrophotometer, Raman Spectrometer, and CHNS Analyzer are housed in the CIF. The recent growth of the IASST can be visualized by a significant increase in the number as well as the quality of peer-reviewed research publications from this institute, a sharp upsurge in the number of research scholars and post-doctoral fellows, and the joining of world-class scientists-all of these are indicators of high-quality research being accomplished here. The dedicated and committed group of scientists, postdocs, and research scholars of our Institute are ready to accept all types of challenges and I strongly believe that they would fuel the growth and development of IASST in the years to come.
It has been recently realized that prioritization of the research area as per the indigenous and nation’s need (think globally but act locally), and promotion of value-added applied research to improve the economic development of the country are of utmost necessity; therefore, start-up prospects has been given enormous importance. To fulfill this noble mission, we have started ‘IASST Societal Venture and Entrepreneurship Consortium’ (ISVEC) the primary objective of which is to test the proof-of-concept of technologies developed by research scholars and scientists of IASST. In the future, ISVEC may also take initiatives to assess the technologies developed in other Institutes of NE India on a commercial basis. In addition, the institute welcomes various other related activities under ISVEC for the benefit of prospective entrepreneurs and also giving the best possible efforts to generate internal revenues.
The IASST has been discharging its scientific societal responsibility and is committed to the development of the weaker and underprivileged section of the society. In this endeavor, the Institute has adopted ST community villages, regularly organizes health camps in its surrounding settlements, and the local farmers have adopted rural technologies developed by IASST for the production of mushroom, eri silk, and vermin-composting. Under the unique ‘Laboratory Exposure Visit’ program, more than 2500 school children and college students of North East (NE) India were invited at IASST to acquaint them with the cutting edge research, functioning of modern equipment, and modern technologies. In addition, different national programs including Swachhta Pakhwada, National Science Day, Vigilance Day, International Yoga Day, Independence Day, and Republic Day are regularly organized in IASST.
During the next few years, some of our imperative and self-effacing initiatives would be to strengthen our association with numerous foremost National and International Universities/institutes and industries on research, encouraging interdisciplinary research, formulation of future strategies to tackle the problem of VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world among the research scholars, and promotion of social awareness including ethical, cultural, health, globalization, and technology revolution and intensification of an outreach program to encourage, train, and enable local people to assure community responsibility leading to the long-term development of all the sections of the society. In order to achieve all these upright accomplishments, I whole-heartedly welcome valuable suggestions from academia as well as from all the sections of the society!
Ashis K. Mukherjee, Ph.D., D.Sc., FRSB (UK)