The new academic year has started. Its time to welcome new members and bid farewell to those on the moving ahead.
I am delighted that Sumithra Sankaran has joined our lab as a new PhD student. She did her B.Sc. in Zoology at Madras University and her M.Sc in Wildlife Science from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. She then worked as a researcher with my colleagues at IISc and nearby institutions (Anindya Sinha at NIAS, Kavita Isvaran at CES and Suhel Quader at NCBS/NCF) on a number of projects panning the fields of Animal Behaviour, Conservation and Evolutionary-Ecology, over the course of which she became increasingly interested in theory. She worked with our lab first as a T.A. for the course I taught on Theoretical and Mathematical Ecology in early 2013 and subsequently joined us as a PhD student with the Centre for Ecological Sciences. Welcome, Sumithra!
It is worth noting that Sumithra is our first PhD student with a biology background! Our current PhD students are both from non-biology backgrounds; whereas Sabiha is from Physics background, Jaideep is from Electrical engineering! So Sumithra will add a biological perspective to our tech-and-math centric view of ecology!
Three of our short-term researchers have left or about to leave. Ajith Ashokan, a plant fanatic & genius, did field work on the vegetation patterns of Rajasthan, specifically on Ashwin Viswanathan’s project. I am planning to invite him back to set up an herbarium of semi-arid vegetation for us, so he should be back again.
Second, Chhavi Chawla worked with us on a very unusual project given that ours is a theoretical lab. She worked on building phylogenetic tree of fish to see if we can understand the evolution of schooling pattern. She will now move to Prof. Paul Rainey lab in New Zealand for her PhD, and we wish her all the best. Nitin Saxena has taken over the project from her.
Finally, Amit Agrawal, who worked with us for almost an year and a half (with a few months break in between) will be moving by the end of this month. His work on analyzing spatial vegetation pattern of Serengeti has now been submitted. All the best, Amit!