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UK research centre launches scholarship honouring Indian scientist

The John Innes Centre in the UK recently launched a scholarship for post-graduate students in honour of Indian scientist, Dr Janaki Ammal.

“We take great pride in our international alumni and we are delighted to name this new scheme in her honour,” Professor Dale Sanders, director of the John Innes Centre, was quoted as saying by a news agency.

Known for research and training in plant and microbial science, the John Innes Centre in Norfolk in the East Anglia region of England has honoured Dr Janaki Ammal for her work at the John Innes Horticultural Institution, first in the 1930s, and then between 1940 and 1945.

“At the John Innes Centre, we strive for a level playing field on which all students compete on scientific merit, irrespective of nationality, economic status or gender. For this reason, we’ve established this mechanism to support students from low income countries with their tuition fees,” Sanders added.

Launched for post-graduate research applicants from 88 developing countries who wish to study plant and microbial sciences, the Janaki Ammal scholarship has been set up to reduce the financial burden of tuition fees on international students.

As defined by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), graduate students from least developed, low income, or lower middle-income countries can apply for this scholarship. Students from sub-Saharan African countries and India can apply but students from middle-income countries such as China and many other Latin American countries can’t apply for this scholarship.

As part of her research work, Dr. Ammal’s research led to the publication of the ‘Chromosome Atlas of Cultivated Plants’. She had written this in collaboration with the then Director of CD Darlington.

A pioneering botanist and cytogeneticist, her works involving surgarcane and eggplant are particularly notable. She was the first woman from India to obtain a PhD in botany. To her credit, she was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1935 and of the Indian National Science Academy in 1957. She was also conferred an honorary LL.D by the University of Michigan in 1956, and awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1977. In her honour, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Government of India had instituted the National Award of Taxonomy in 2000.

Manmath Nayak

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