On the Research Quest

On the Research Quest

5 Students at Krea share their stories as budding researchers

In a world that’s evolving faster than ever before, the most critical of questions are novel and unscripted. Knowledge driven growth that’s fuelled by innovation is the need of the hour.

Students at Krea are on a quest for knowledge, some of them having trod onto the path of research much prior to stepping into the world of Krea. They are curious investigators with research interests across the social, political, scientific, and technical spectrum. Questioning the status quo, attempting to solve the unanswered, challenging their own selves, advancing knowledge, each of them are reshaping the norm.

Hear their stories in their own words.

Prashanthi Subbiah from SIAS Cohort of 2023

Ground Zero

I think my interest in research began as a quest to understand certain aspects, be it an event or a fact that is widely accepted. I have always been someone who asks questions. To bring up an example related to the subjects I have taken up in university, if a major political event took place, I would always ask why was it such a big deal; sometimes I wouldn’t fully understand what news channels were making a fuss about. More often than not, I would ask my parents, and they always encouraged me to seek out answers for myself. After a while, it became a habit for me to do a quick Google search after I find out about something new. 

R for Research

Most of my research experience has been at Krea. I was part of a group of researchers in summer 2021, under Prof Sumitra Ranganathan and Prof Naina Majrekar to track slave trade along the Coromandel Coast (with specific focus on Pulicat Lake) by the Dutch East India Company. We made data visualisations and compiled literature on the same. My second research internship at Krea was with the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, under Prof Shanti Pappu, Dr Kumar Akhilesh, and Dr Prachi Joshi. All 3 of them taught us step-by-step about stone tools found at a Paleolithic site, 70 kms from Chennai. We began with the most basic concepts, such as differentiating between a stone tool and naturally-occurring stones and then delved into how these tools were excavated, preserved and different techniques used to analyse them to obtain more information such as a tool’s use. Using this knowledge, we created an educational video on these topics, which was aimed specifically for school children. 

A Milestone

I have done in-depth research essays and papers for my coursework, and for a book I wrote on 20th Century History. This book initially started as a compilation of notes to help myself study, as I wasn’t satisfied with how I was performing in class. I did research, both virtual and physical which greatly improved my understanding of the material. Eventually I published it to help other students and teachers out there in 2020-21. 

One chapter at a time 

There is a unique feeling that sticks with me every time I step into a research project. At the very beginning, the task I am looking at always seems enormous. I feel like I have a lot to learn and process each time I begin a new project, and that need to understand motivates me to get organised and start putting my thoughts together little-by-little until I’m able to come up with something substantial. This process is a journey of its own, which gets me into the groove of working on a research project. 

An evolving worldview

A major takeaway for me has been to always have my mind open, and be ready for new information. Especially in a time dominated by technology, where information is more accessible than ever, it can become overwhelming at times. So, the importance of being ready to assimilate as much as you can, as well as obtaining the important facts from much of the noise has become paramount to how I look at everyday aspects.

Exploring pathways

I am considering a career in research and I believe for any career path, subject knowledge is a requirement, and obtaining it would require some degree of research. These experiences have also been humbling learning experiences, as I have always stepped in with very little knowledge, which goes to show how important having an open mind is. I have also had to be very persistent and have fine eye for detail as well, which have definitely shaped me as a person.

Vishesh Agarwal from SIAS Cohort of 2023

The Starting Point

It all started when I read a lot of history and political science during the pandemic and got to know about the illustrious and rather unknown beauties of Calcutta, the Beth-El Synagogue and the Meghan David Synagogue. I got to know how events transpired and these pieces of excellence were left to rot. Surprisingly these synagogues did not have a rabbi and both of them are rather significant for the Jews around the world, especially our subcontinent. That’s how I had my first research experience.

A gateway to experiences 

All my work may not be pure research but I enjoy interviewing people and learning from their lives over the years. For example, I have always been fond of Cholas and their art and I got the opportunity to visit their museum of collected works of Chola artists over the last few decades and spent time with a couple of Chola painters and an academic there, understanding them better. At Krea, I have done more structured projects like with IC3 movement where we conducted a survey of counselors and tried to provide for an analysis and with the help of Bhakti Shah, Krea’s Director of Outreach, I led a project where other collaborating universities were solely represented by professors, while we were represented by our students. Prof Chirag Dhara and I share the same interests in the current radical changes in Chile which we researched and discussed at great length about with other students bringing in ideas from their area of interest. Even though it was my first year at Krea, I got a research opportunity with Equity in Higher Education where I helped them to create a university database for students from the Bahujan community so that they get benefited with better education alongside an inclusive peer group. Lastly, the experience with Professor Kalpita Bhar Paul was greatly inspired by the IPCC report that stated many metropolitan cities of India might not exist in near future, including Kolkata, my home town. I wanted to know more about the subject and my mentor was truly helpful in this regard. 

Empathy

In research, even when you are working with hard data and raw facts, the stories behind those facts make you more sensitive to the fact instead of disbanding it as a statistic. This not only helped me with being more sensitive and empathetic but also made me feel inspired by their struggles. 

The lessons learnt

I am not too sure about my career options as of now but I see being a researcher as one of the top options for sure. These experiences have definitely equipped me with a lot of tools that will come in handy no matter what. What it has helped me most with is the comfort of saying ‘I don’t know’ because as a researcher you can disprove something but cannot always come up with an alternative and then accepting that you don’t know helps in life too because we are always trying to prove ourselves as someone who knows everything. 

New perspectives, varied lenses

Research gives you an opportunity to evolve as a scholar but at Krea every day I see things with new perspectives from different lenses. Even though you might not be aligned to that, it’s important to know the other side and that sensitivity and patience is a gift of research.

Agnij Purushothaman from SIAS Cohort of 2023

The Research and the researcher

Research, to me, is a symbiotic relationship between the researched and the ‘researched’. Sure, the researcher gives life to information, but I feel what makes me enjoy research so much is not the result of novelty, but the process. I tend to work with my information and data as a counterpart, not something under or above me that fosters my interest. My first experience with research was in high school, and I clearly remember trying my best to not be overwhelmed by the scale of the research processes. It was very basic research and data collection and interpretation with regard to stock markets, but I remember coming out of that project a little more stoked to search for more. 

The research journey

My first proper research opportunity was over this summer break at Krea. I worked with my peers alongside Prof Soumyajit Bhar on a project that intended to understand notions of the good life and its connection to the climate crisis, consumption patterns and popular sustainability discourse. In particular, a small group including me looked at religion (or the absence of it) and its connection to the good life. It was loaded, and a deeply personal topic I am very passionate about. I can confidently say that it was more than just a means to an end sort of project, it was more of something to work with continually in the future, considering the relevancy and nature of the subject. I look forward to working deeper on the same. Outside Krea, I keep myself engaged with topics I am deeply interested in, some of them include temple history, classical music, astronomy, animal conservation and earth science, among others. 

Chapters in revelations

One of the biggest emotional and existential setbacks I have had was during my summer internship at Krea itself. Intricacies of the climate crisis and its implications on the human psyche are immense, and there are already terms like climate anxiety that are floating around. During that time, I encountered overwhelming evidence of the extremely unfortunate trajectory of the global economy and mainly, its implications on the global South. That 1% of the elite that skims off of most of the wealth of the world nagged me, continuously. But I also realised that, even though it may sound cynical and pessimistic, the only way to move forward in research is to sometimes digest it as the bitter reality, and use that as motivation to find something alternate that can propel your mind out of that rut. To me, that was turning away from economic solutions and looking at political and environmental solutions for the inequitable economy. That helped me steer around the wealth inequality crisis, and look for light down that dark tunnel. 

Gearing up for the research trail

I can’t affirm it yet but I am definitely considering a career in research. A professor at Krea once explained the scope of research to me in the form of a pie. What is already out there constitutes about 90% of the information that is used and interpreted. Novel research topics, however, constitute just about 10% of the pie. In that 10%, individuals trying to decode and find something novel, are mere specks. My personality has definitely changed through these experiences, and I consider making peace with the fact that novel and meaningful research comes from a deeply focused and determined headspace and methodology is the first step toward gearing up for a career path in research, and that’s something I intend to primarily work on.

Accumulating knowledge, amplifying learnings

There is no point in research if you don’t come out of it with little to lots of changes in your perceptions of the subject matter. Instead of evolving, I’d rather say that I increment what I find meaningful from my research to my personality. It’s more of a cumulative journey of the self through research than a metamorphic one that is more like evolving to me, personally. These research experience mainly add to the knowledge that I already have, reinforcing it, correcting it, and updating it constantly.

Naveen Prasad Alex from SIAS Cohort of 2022

Turning passion into pathway

There was no ground zero for me, because ecology or wildlife butterflies have been a passion for me since my childhood and it was just about taking my passion to the next level, getting it more systematic and scientific.

It’s all about the butterflies 

In Krea most of my research experiences were under the mentorship of Prof Shivani Jadeja, the studies on butterfly lifecycles and migration. The study on migration being covered under research internship and research assistance stints and two short communication papers have been published related to the migration study we did.

My capstone thesis revolved around butterfly migrations too. One of the remarkable butterfly migrations in India is The Danainae butterfly migration through southern India. Even though some studies have been based on limited data and opportunistic observations, this phenomenon remains largely understudied. My thesis utilised citizen science data on the occurrence of Tirumala limniace, Tirumala septentrionis Euploea core to find out seasonal changes in the occurrence of these butterflies, indicating potential migratory patterns. This study helps to better understand migratory patterns for Danainae butterfly migration through southern India.

Research comes with its own set of unique experiences, for me one of them was around my capstone thesis. I was planning to work on a topic which involved quite some lab work, it was on how temperature variations affect the feeding patterns of butterfly larvae during the metamorphosis. But thanks to COVID, access was limited and I had to think on my feet to work on something that I could still do within the limitations of the world shutting down. I had to change the topic to ‘Tracking butterfly migration in India using historic and citizen science data’ and even though it is challenging,  the study results have been very interesting, with a potential of getting published.

Penning new chapters

I plan to pursue a career in research and academics and I am at the moment undertaking a Masters at University of Helsinki in ecology and evolution. Having professional research experience, especially at Krea, gave me more clarity on what I should do, and essentially helped identify my specific interests within ecology itself.

Meghana Mantha  from SIAS Cohort of 2024

Where it all began

I have been into active research for the past 5 years. It all started with reading and observing my surroundings and the curiosity to know more about topics that interested me. Some of the topics that interest me but are slightly odd are Colleges & Admissions, Career Services, Countries, and Cultures, and I haven’t really explored Academic Research or worked in proper research setting at a university. This interest led me to take up a Research Project under Professor Soumyajit Bhar on the topic of Consumer Behaviour, Choices, and Patterns under factors like Social, Individual, and Cultural. This project was interesting and dealt with the topic of Sustainable Fashion and it was very new to me. Hence, exploring the topic and getting involved in the process was quite fascinating and insightful. 

In pursuit of a passion

I started my Journey as a Researcher and Writer at a few American Student-led organisations and then progressed towards my passion which is College Admissions and Career Services. Over time, I researched more about colleges, what makes a good profile to get into a top college? How can one find opportunities as a student? And many more questions like that, I’ve also mentored many students in the past five years in getting into their top college choices or paid internships. In this process, I fell in love with Outreach and Communications. I enjoyed networking with people, building connections, and helping Teen Entrepreneurs. 

In the pursuit of improving my skills in the field of Research in the domain of Education concentrating on Admissions and Career Services, I started working with a Harvard Master’s Student. My Research focuses on Top Colleges for Undergrad in India and Abroad specifically focusing on the USA, Domestic and International Competitor Analysis, Student Profiling, and Blogging. I love my work on these and I am looking forward to pursuing my passion and research interests further.

The Evolution

When I started off with my journey in research at the age of 14, I was in a mindset that every research project that we take up regardless of the domain is the same but eventually, after working on Academic related research projects where I had to work with a team, go through the process from the start, conduct interviews, transcriptions, analysing the info we had, was very different compared to the work that I am involved in now, which mostly is best done alone, the research, the questions we ask and, the people we interact with are completely different. This distinction gave me an understanding of how research works in different fields. 

Exploring and discovering 

I am interested in pursuing a career path in research but I am still exploring and figuring out if I should pursue research as an academician or work towards my passion (Research, Outreach, and Communications) in College Counselling, Admissions and Career Services. Working with many experts in different fields has given me interesting perspectives and experiences and to an extent shaped my personality positively. At the moment, I am happy that I am exploring and working with people with similar interests and where I am at, excited to see where this goes and what the future holds for me. 

Manvi’s Journey-From Krea University to Carnegie Mellon University

Manvi’s Journey-From Krea University to Carnegie Mellon University

Overwhelmed, exhilarated, excited, these are the three words Manvi uses to express her jubilance on the admittance offer from  Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science to the Masters of Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science (METALS). Manvi chose Computer Science Major at Krea, SIAS and has also been a Krea student ambassador. 

Manvi has always been a curious young student, and it all started as early as Grade 6 when she asked her mother what’s the best education she could receive, and the best university. With a desire to always experience the best in education, Manvi’s path took her through various milestones, one being Krea and now onto another at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

Manvi has always been passionate for education and tech and views this as a stepping stone in her journey.

“I want to see how I can use the opportunities I receive to enhance my capacity to work for the greater good.”

Manvi Teki

Lessons from the journey for future aspirants

From her own personal experience, Manvi pulls out few pages for future graduates aiming at higher education

  • Believe in yourself and aim as high as you desire
  • Circumstances may make you feel less confident, but always know there is nothing impossible to achieve
  • Start your research in the 2nd year of Undergraduation
  • It’s an ocean of courses and specialisations out there, explore well but don’t get confused
  • Plan it well, also look for backup universities apart from your main ones
  • Be prepared, keep a good buffer for deadlines. E.g- If the application is due in December, attempt and close GRE by July.
  • Plan it all but do not over plan it, give yourself time to breathe

Pathway and Stepping Stones

The Internships

Manvi feels that all her internship experiences collectively helped her be where she is today. Right from the Teach for India experience in the middle of the pandemic to being a Tech Business Analyst at Minfy Technologies during the summer and a Tech Content Curator once she was rehired, it all were jigsaw pieces falling into place, through the skills learnt and the projects tackled.

One of the projects closest to her heart at Krea was her internship with IBM. “ We applied all the facts we had learnt into the project. We had to create a questionnaire using NLP technique to tap into human consciousness to gauge their learning style and the results were used on various IBM learning platforms. We used what we learnt in Computer Science, a course in Brain and Behaviour and Design Thinking. It was a reflection of my Krea journey itself, of applying things in your real life, truly interwoven.”

The Krea Experience

“Three years of interaction with the faculty and not just from the Department of Computer Science but all across really helped. Conversations play a subtle but important role in what you do and what you decide to do “

Manvi Teki

Manvi emphasises how the amalgamation of these inputs and exposure helped her shape her thoughts and choose her path forward.

Manvi didn’t step into Krea with a fixed mindset, she navigated the journey with open thoughts. But everything fell into place at Krea- the pattern of assignments, the coursework, and the midterms, among others. While a lot of students struggle a bit as they head to an international university, Manvi believes spending three years at Krea with a similar pattern gives her leverage. A jumpstart to a smooth transition.

“The whole research mindset, writing-intensive three years, helped me put into words my SOP. The skills I picked up through courses like Design Thinking have really helped. These have all molded me to adjust and adapt better, made me comfortable with the concept of uncertainty, which I do not fear anymore.”

The Co-curriculars

Manvi has always been one for extracurriculars and believes they help shape the mind and individual one is. “You don’t become you just because of academics. 70% of who I am today is not because of academics, what I learnt was out of classrooms how to speak, how to read emotional cues”, adds Manvi

Manvi aims to work in a space connecting humans with tech and even though she hasn’t done courses in Psychology but one, her time training in theatre has helped her understand social cues and the human psyche.

Way ahead

“Many people believe that creativity is in the Arts but there is creativity in Science too, the phone is a creative product.”

Manvi wants to create the most human designs possible using tech, ones that could help a large number of people. She aims to address the massive gap between advancements in technology to their translation to community and people. Her long term vision includes working for equity in education by ensuring tech reaches students across the social spectrum and in ways that can be utilised by them for learning.

Lekshmi Gopinathan
reports, from the Communications Desk

Krea Student Diaries | How I chose my Major

Krea Student Diaries | How I chose my Major

By Kathan Pandya

In school, we are given a range of subjects to study. In college, there is a world of difference! Yes, there are various courses to choose from and attend. However, it is also a deep-dive into that one field or subject for 2-3 years. With the increasing number of options available, I admit that I was confused about what to choose, which discipline to explore and figure out how it aligns with my interests. Unlike the many people who already had a clear idea of what they wanted, I took some time to accept that clarity doesn’t happen so quickly and it is perfectly okay to be clueless at first. 

In high school, like most teenagers, everybody gave different advice. Some advised that I should follow my interests. Some cautioned me to keep my future in mind, while others reminded me to be practical. After months of thinking and analysing my options, I realised that all it takes is three simple steps, a step-by-step process that I followed while selecting my Major as a sophomore. 

1. Know what you are good at

There is always the scope of surprising yourself by finding something you are unexpectedly good at in college. Krea’s first year, that way, will be a revelation of sorts. When the time comes for you to choose your Major, you would have a fair idea of what it is that you are looking to explore. It is not necessary to excel at that subject area, but be aware of the skills that are required and how it would help you in the future. 

2. Identify your interests

Here comes the typical question- what are your interests and what role does it play in your academics? You can like astronomy and nothing else in Physics, or enjoy creative writing but may not be interested in Literature otherwise. College is when you need to think broadly. When tasked to opt for your Major, answer the following questions: Which Major has courses where most of your interests lie?  In which Major are you ready to take a few courses you may not like just for the sake of the ones you do enjoy? Remember, to know about one’s interests is a superpower in itself! 

3.Yes, be practical too!

Creating a path for yourself, aka by choosing your Major, is a daunting task and requires you to account for every little aspect right from interests to occupations and future potential. I have learned that when we begin college, our knowledge on future careers is extremely limited. But the more you explore, like in the first year, the more your mind opens to a number of opportunities. Amidst all this, my curiosity really helped. So don’t hold back- Ask professors, the internet and people around you about the rich variety of careers available in your list of interests and strengths. Gaining knowledge about the paths that are built and then deciding on your own will also act as a motivator. 

Now imagine these three pointers intertwining like a venn diagram. Bear them in mind, weigh the pros and cons, but most importantly- be open to learning new things and embracing change. 

The core and skill courses in Krea have been very helpful that way, especially for someone who gets confused easily amidst a plethora of options. I would have never known that I would enjoy coding if it were not for the Coding Course! The first year is like a snapshot of different fields; there is a lot in the mix but with answers to these questions listed above, your Major selection in your second year at Krea becomes a cake walk!

About Kathan

Embracing the space-time continuum with some laughter and overthinking.

SIAS – Cohort of 2023

Majoring in Biology

Take Two- Diversity Dialogues

Take Two- Diversity Dialogues

A veteran from the area of Strategy and Management, Prof Shobha Das,  Area Chair – Strategic Management, IFMR GSB, got on a Zoom call with an Ethnomusicologist, Prof Sumitra Ranganathan, Senior Assistant Professor of Music, SIAS. What followed was an exchange from worlds intersected, in stark contrast yet drawing the parallels.

Prof Shobha and Prof Sumitra got together for a special exchange of ideas and perspectives on the occasion of International Women’s Day, tracing the similarities and differences in their lives as academics and as women from diverse fields. Paving the way for an interesting dialogue, Prof Shobha Das drew attention to how arts and management are considered to be siloed as two different worlds but yet share deep commonalities. In agreement Prof Sumitra explained how this is innate to the consciousness at Krea, how habits of the creative mind come together in almost all domains.

Drawing on her life as an academic, Prof Shobha spoke about how academia is synonymous with her identity, more so than being a woman. Academia has allowed her to explore, interact with different people and learn about things, about how it affirmed there is no ‘me’ in academics.  While Prof Sumitra pondered on her identity at the intersection of arts and academics, her journey from being a theoretical physicist to the  world of IT and finally to the shift in academics, and how it made the most sense in a space such as Krea University. She expressed how she felt closest to home in academia, where the active churning rarely stops, and spills over.

“The artist in me expresses it in this way, my shift into academics happened following a song, it was a beautiful dhrupad I learnt from the Maharajas of Bettiah, composed by them. And following that song is how I decided I will do my PhD in music and then I made a transition and there I have stayed ever since.”

Prof Sumitra expressed her amazement at women artists from traditional communities who have always had to manage their time and demands made at them as a person. Prof Shobha drew the analogy to the field of management, to what is labeled ‘The Great Resignation’ in the post pandemic era.

“More women have resigned than men because women have realised if now they go back to the workplace, all things they have adapted to will feel astray. The onus is on them to now continue the new role but apparently the men aren’t that affected by the change in role because they probably were able to partition it still and continue to do so. The Great Resignation is greater for the women, post pandemic. We will have even fewer women in the workforce.”

Continuing the thread, Prof Sumitra spoke about the pressure women face as caregivers and how it comes into play when she seeks employment, cloaked as questions and qualms. Prof Shobha pointed out how the top 500 Fortune Companies in the United States had 8 percent women as CEOs and the top 500 companies of NSE had 5 percent as CEOs and the buck didn’t stop there, a study by IIM-A showed that the gender pay gap increased as women climbed the ladder instead of the other way round. This led to contemplation over the takeaways from the pandemic on how to bring women back to the workforce, of the awareness and the solutions.

Prof Shobha stressed on the fact of inability to delve deeper into metrics, incentives and motivation to keep higher education equally excitable for men and women. On how if one lesson from the pandemic is accessibility, the other is a question on digital divide. In Prof Shoba’s words, “A chakravyuh we need to emerge from.”

Retracing a Mnemonic for woman empowerment, something she had coined for an event in the year prior, Prof Shobha expanded STREE- Support The People Who Are Around You, the women and community members. Talk about the people and what hardships they have, stories are never hidden. Raise awareness in every forum you can. Educate yourself and others of opportunities available for women. Empower women, put power back in their hands.

Prof Sumitra added how there is a huge opportunity to bring the quality of a woman that is associated with the aspect of ‘care’ to the classroom. A need to feminise the workplace, to bring in the idea of care to the classroom where everyone cares for the other, making space differences and acknowledging that they come from various backgrounds and do not face the same challenges, to inculcate the ethics of care into enabling students, workers and colleagues.

The short conversation concluded with a pause, refraining from a full stop. With a promise for future collaborations, exchange of novel ideas and building of continuous bridges.

Please click here to view the engaging dialogue.

All the way from south India to the United States to participate in the HPAIR Harvard Conference 2022

All the way from south India to the United States to participate in the HPAIR Harvard Conference 2022

Chennai, 01 February 2022: Sai Balaji, a sophomore at Krea University, majoring in Economics and minoring in Psychology recently got selected by The Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations for the Harvard Conference which will be held from 18-21 February 2022 at the Harvard campus.

Originally from Chennai, 19-year-old Sai wears multiple hats within the University ecosystem. He is a Student Ambassador, Research Assistant, Club Representative of the Social Outreach Club “Aikyatha” and is a Content Manager for the University Newspaper “Tapestry” alongside his academics. 

Obviously excited with the opportunity to be a part of HPAIR, Sai says, “This is a fantastic platform for me. I truly believe that the overall ecosystem at Krea re-kindled the childlike curiosity within me to constantly ask questions about the various aspects of social, political, and economic issues in the 21st century. The faculty, peer group, and the overall learning culture at KREA, have played a vital role in my selection for HPAIR 2022.” 

Every Harvard Conference serves to create meaningful dialogue regarding the current socio-economic and political landscape across the globe. Speaking about what he is most excited about Sai says, “This conference gives the opportunity for me to interact with a diverse range of people and speakers.” Sai’s role specifically is to voice his views and share his knowledge with fellow delegates attending the conference. The responsibilities post the conference would mean how individuals who are a part of the conference attempt to Implement these learnings in their research and to focus on making an impact on the world with it.

The mission of HPAIR is to connect the top leaders of today and tomorrow in a dynamic forum of exchange. The Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) was founded in 1991 to create a forum of exchange for students and young professionals to discuss and learn about the most important economic, political, and social issues facing the Asia-Pacific region. Since 1991, HPAIR has organized 43 conferences in 12 different host countries, touching the lives of more than 10,000 students and young professionals. HPAIR hosts two student-led conferences a year – one on Harvard’s campus and the other in the Asia-Pacific. Prospective host cities in Asia must undergo an intensive, six-month bidding process; this year’s Asia Conference will be held in Nur-Sultan, HPAIR’s first conference in Central Asia. HPAIR conferences feature world-class speakers and guests to foster mentorship, networking, and guidance opportunities for delegates.

Two SIAS students set to create TURNIP- a venture idea validated by Venture Capitalists

Two SIAS students set to create TURNIP- a venture idea validated by Venture Capitalists

Thrilled and raring to go, Aditi Rajesh and Mitul Aggarwal, 2nd year undergraduate students at SIAS, Krea University, are all set to work on the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for their venture TURNIP, an idea that was witnessed and validated by noted Venture Capitalists in the country, including Sunil Cavale and Sanjay Selvan (Speciale Invest), Praveen Sridharan (TVS Capital Funds) and Nihir Nemani (Emerald India).

So, what’s TURNIP?

“It’s a peer-to-peer learning network which seeks to make learning interesting. It aims to facilitate learning through conversations,” says Aditi.

“In short, it’s a networking platform focused on learning,” adds Mitul.

In a conversation with the Communications Team at Krea, these young minds opened up about the experience of pitching their idea to potential investors, and how the elective ‘Creative Economy’ by Prof Anil Srinivasan acted as a catalyst to the creation of TURNIP.

“Prof Srinivasan’s course has been a pillar for the Interwoven Learning Experience. A very well-structured course, there are theory classes and then industry-based sessions giving us a chance to implement learning from the classroom into real life. It’s very practical and hands on. The course in Creative Economy led us to start TURNIP. It gave us the push and the reason to work on something new. Prof Srinivasan provided us the experience of pitching to real-world investors and it really inspired us to take it further”, they added.

Aditi and Mitul are fine-tuning the idea and will be progressing to the research and development phase, in the coming weeks. Even before TURNIP, Aditi and Mitul were well on their way on the entrepreneurial journey. Aditi most recently launched Inturn, a platform that aims to connect students looking for internships/volunteer work for student-led organisations. Mitul is the co-founder of Inagiffy, a communications agency curating and creating accessible and aesthetic content to make global communication more seamless and easier.

SIAS student conducts a skill development workshop for UG students at Kalasa

SIAS student conducts a skill development workshop for UG students at Kalasa

Shreyasi Patil (they/she), a 3rd year SIAS student at Krea, worked with the Skill Development Office of Chikkamagaluru and Srinidhi Gurunath, MGN Fellow, to conduct a soft skills and design thinking workshop for final year degree students about tackling problems of rural Malnad area.

The one-day interactive design thinking workshop was conducted at GFGC Kalasa, with the final year BCom and BA students aiming to promote soft skills and entrepreneurial values among them.

“The Design Thinking workshop was used to identify problems specific to the Malnad region and why entrepreneurship isn’t developing in the area. Especially in  Chikkamagaluru, which is well known but mostly for tourism.”

Emphasising on what contributed to a seamless building of the workshop, Shreyasi added, “ At Krea, we have a course in the 1st year on Design Thinking and in the 2nd year we have a course named Creative Economy where we build our own company and pitch in front of real life Venture Capitalists at the end of three months. Along with these I have also been part of the TiE – Young Entrepreneurs Chapter where we represented India and won the second position. All these factors together helped me plan the one day workshop.”

Kalasa is a taluk, located deep within Chikkamagaluru. “We had no clue how remote Kalasa was. A couple of government buses ply in this region and some students have to walk 6-7 kilometers each day to reach their schools. The heavy monsoons also create havoc and the students and teachers usually aren’t able to make it to the institutes in such conditions. Added to it the weak internet connectivity, the education of most students at Kalasa are hindered.”

The workshop revolved around combating these issues that the students faced in their everyday lives. They worked through the process of identifying problems, empathising, building solutions and testing the solutions – a reality check on how viable it would be if one were to implement the same.

There were around eight problems which were identified and solutions proposed. The students wrapped up the workshop with solutions like setting up a customer service team which would work as a liaison between rural places in Malnad and the telecom companies. Another suggested a bus for the safety of girl students, as many of them dropped out of school and colleges and got married early because of the lack of efficient transport systems.

Shreyasi has been training and teaching students from a very young age. Yet, teaching and training peers and young adults of their own age was led by their experience at Krea.

 “I was comfortable training younger students, but at Krea, the student experience facilitated by being an extracurricular representative had an impact. I have been able to take up the challenges of teaching people my age. Now I know the vocabulary for it, having the right language and presentation is important. Two years of college at Krea have done to me what years of training by myself couldn’t. College has given me the language to present what I really believe in.”

Shreyasi also trains school students in gender studies through the medium of theatre. On completion of their under graduation, they plan to travel across India and teach gender studies to students across demographics, using theatre. Shreyasi hopes to pursue their future goals in the intersection of art, education and entrepreneurship.

‘Krea Lecture Series: Environmental Studies’ with Dr R Brawin Kumar | 28 Sept, 6.30 PM IST

‘Krea Lecture Series: Environmental Studies’ with Dr R Brawin Kumar | 28 Sept, 6.30 PM IST

In the world of mammals inhabiting the Indian subcontinent, the Madras Hedgehog is very poorly studied. Did you know that, unlike porcupines, the hedgehog’s spines are not easily detachable, and it rolls its fur-clad face and abdomen into a complete ball of spines in defence?  

Join Dr R Brawin Kumar (National Post Doctoral Fellow – School of Biology, IISER Tirupati) for an insightful and ‘edgy’ lecture — titled “The untold story of my spiny neighbour – The Madras Hedgehog!” — exploring the few species of hedgehogs in India, sharing interesting facts about them, and explaining why efforts need to be doubled towards studying these fascinating creatures.

The ‘Krea Lecture Series: Environmental Studies’ is a forum to share research and ongoing work in the broad domain of environmental issues and climate change. The series invites speakers to explore these themes from multiple dimensions including but not limited to climate science, conservation, policy, culture, social movements and more. 

This lecture is open to all. Register here: https://krea-edu-in.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMscu-gpzooGtRWQu3ulqF1OmZPFSrnPqgm

Prof Srajana Kaikini’s recent papers published by noted international journals

Prof Srajana Kaikini’s recent papers published by noted international journals

Krea faculty Prof Srajana Kaikini — Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Humanities & Social Sciences & Literature & the Arts — has had two of her recent papers published by renowned international journals. Her most recent paper explores strategies within the arts practice, while the other paper talks about COVID-19 and its social impact.

Her paper titled, ‘The Aesthetics Of Risk in Artistic Practice: What is at Stake?’, has been published in the Kunstlicht Journal 41(4) (2020). ASSESSING RISK: ON STRATEGIES FOR HEALTH, SAFETY, AND WELFARE WITHIN ARTS PRACTICE. The journal regularly features academics, authors, editors and artists sharing their insights on art, visual culture, and architecture. Access the paper here.

Her timely piece on understanding disasters and bringing the ethical language of the collective, bearing COVID-19 in mind, was published by Voices in Bioethics, an online journal in partnership with Columbia University Library. Read the article here.

Prof Kalyan Chakrabarti co-authors paper on “Aromatic Interactions Drive the Coupled Folding and Binding of the Intrinsically Disordered Sesbania mosaic Virus VPg Protein”

Prof Kalyan Chakrabarti co-authors paper on “Aromatic Interactions Drive the Coupled Folding and Binding of the Intrinsically Disordered Sesbania mosaic Virus VPg Protein”

Prof Kalyan Chakrabarti – Assistant Professor of Biological Science & Chemistry, Krea University – co-authors with scientists at IISc for a paper on “Aromatic Interactions Drive the Coupled Folding and Binding of the Intrinsically Disordered Sesbania mosaic Virus VPg Protein” published in the American Chemical Society journal ‘Biochemistry’.

About the paper:

The cells are the tiny units of life. Protein molecules are the engines that carry out all the necessary work within the cell. But, how are the engines assembled within the cell?  A team of scientists, including Prof Kalyan Chakrabarti, have answered this question in an article published in the American Chemical Society journal ‘Biochemistry’. The work, partially funded by the Krea Intramural Fellowship awarded in 2019, discusses a specific problem of viral infection in plants which has the potential to provide a blueprint for preventing viral infections in animals too.

Abstract:

The plant Sesbania mosaic virus [a (+)-ssRNA sobemovirus] VPg protein is intrinsically disordered in solution. For the virus life cycle, the VPg protein is essential for replication and for polyprotein processing that is carried out by a virus-encoded protease. The nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-derived tertiary structure of the protease-bound VPg shows it to have a novel tertiary structure with an α-β-β-β topology. The quaternary structure of the high-affinity protease–VPg complex (≈27 kDa) has been determined using HADDOCK protocols with NMR (residual dipolar coupling, dihedral angle, and nuclear Overhauser enhancement) restraints and mutagenesis data as inputs. The geometry of the complex is in excellent agreement with long-range orientational restraints such as residual dipolar couplings and ring-current shifts. A “vein” of aromatic residues on the protease surface is pivotal for the folding of VPg via intermolecular edge-to-face π···π stacking between Trp271 and Trp368 of the protease and VPg, respectively, and for the CH···π interactions between Leu361 of VPg and Trp271 of the protease. The structure of the protease–VPg complex provides a molecular framework for predicting sites of important posttranslational modifications such as RNA linkage and phosphorylation and a better understanding of the coupled folding upon binding of intrinsically disordered proteins. The structural data presented here augment the limited structural data available on viral proteins, given their propensity for structural disorder.

Reference: Karuna Dixit, N. Megha Karanth, Smita Nair, Khushboo Kumari, Kalyan S. Chakrabarti, Handanahal S. Savithri, and Siddhartha P. Sarma | Biochemistry 2020 59 (49), 4663-4680 | DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.0c00721

Read the complete paper, here.