The Epitome of Research: Prof Snehashish Chakraverty
Prof. Snehashish Chakraverty is a 'HAG' (Higher Administrative Grade) professor and a tenacious experimentalist, an award-winning research scientist, a connoisseur of excellence, an optimist and above all, a mathematician. Monday Morning caught up with the author of the 'India Top Cited Paper Award' winning research paper to know more about his journey. He is a wizard of mathematics and has worked on and is working on projects with prestigious organizations like BARC, DRDO, DST, etc. He is currently heading the Poverty Research Alleviation Centre (click here to read more about PARC) at NITR, aiming to get to the bottom of poverty in the KBK (Kalahandi Balangir Koraput) region of Odisha. Read on to know more.
Monday Morning (MM): Congratulations on winning the India Top Cited Paper Award. Can you briefly tell us what all efforts went behind this particular paper?
Prof Snehashish Chakraverty (SC): The paper for which I won the award was written by my students under my guidance. The credit of this accomplishment goes to the students. Even though I guided them but the efforts were from my students.
MM: You have numerous accolades to your name. How do you maintain your standard and ensure success every time?
Prof SC: It is just the continuous efforts of my honest and dedicated students. We are not hurrying to publish papers. Even though we had to face some difficulties in the pandemic, my students did tremendous work in publishing very high-quality research papers.
The main thing is the interest. If you make the students interested in a particular topic they are working on, they will automatically be used to the work and put in the extra effort. Till now, I have only one single-author paper. I don't write a single-author paper; whatever ideas I have, I used to give them to my students, and they used to work and explore the domain more. In every paper, the student's name is the first, followed by my name. This is the methodology in which I work and has gotten me so many accolades.
I have given ample freedom to the students to come to my lab anytime. Irrespective of holidays or weekends, they always put in continuous efforts and were in regular touch. At the end of the day, it's not about only writing the papers; they should understand the matter. The students should know what they're doing to continue the work by themselves after pursuing the PhD.
MM: What captivated your imagination to work in the field you are currently in, and how did NIT Rourkela help you realize your vision?
Prof SC: I was among the very few who joined directly as the role of professor directly here. At that time, there were not many research projects available in my department that was externally funded. Also, at that time, except for a handful, no students preferred to come. There was also no international conference when I joined (to the best of my knowledge). But with the support of students and faculty, I tried to conduct such initiatives in our department. Moreover, writing books helped in bringing external projects and also motivated other faculties to do the same.
MM: Can you please brief us about the projects and field of interest you have pursued or will pursue in the future?
Prof SC: I have worked in different fields and subjects. Initially, I worked along with Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC), where I worked on two projects for which we got funding from the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS). One collaborator was there in each project from BARC. The first project was on Uncertainty in Engineering Dynamics Problems. This is a purely Civil and Mechanical Engineering Problem. There we also solved stochasticity and fluid dynamics problems.
My second project was on Radon gas Diffusion. When we are sitting in a building, this gas is emitted from the ground and walls. Radon gas is highly carcinogenic, even more than smoking or any other causes of cancer, and that's why this project was given to us. We captured the emitting Radon gas from the ground, and some uncertainties were found. We modelled and verified those uncertainties using experimental data, mathematical modelling and computation. Also, we saw an anomaly in the developed model regarding the variation of Radon Gas just before an earthquake; this is not foolproof as of now. The project is over, but BARC is currently working on the effect of the Earthquake on Radon Gas. I also worked on Tsunami Wave Propagation during this project.
After that, I worked with the Ministry of Earth Sciences on Earthquake related problems related to geophysics and structural engineering. Till now, no model is there as per the American Society of Civil Engineering that can justify the transmission of earthquake waves through soil and structure interaction. In this project, we used artificial intelligence, we transferred the wave to the ground, and a server was connected with the building, which showed us the deflection of the structure due to the waves. We aimed to predict the safeness of the building after the effects of the waves. Later, We got one project from DRDO related to Nano Functionally Graded Structure. One of my students is working on that, and he's going to submit his thesis very soon.
My other project is related to Robotics, in which we are designing a miniature and flexible robot which can hold tiny objects as well. This will be very helpful to the Covid patients. The whole project isn't completed yet, but the prototype is ready, and one student is working on that. My Co-Investigator, Prof Debanik Roy, BARC, an expert in Robotics, is also working on this project.
MM: What makes your solution novel to other general solutions of the Euler Bernoulli beam theory equation?
Prof SC: When you add more variables to the differential equation, like variable thickness, non-homogeneity, etc., it becomes complex, and the typical solution may not accommodate these changes. Our solution, which is in the research paper, includes all these variables, which is novel in our solution.
MM: How do the solutions obtain from the DTM (Differential Transfer Method) application on the Euler-Bernoulli theory help better analyze than the Taylor series solutions?
Prof SC: All the problems cannot be solved through the Taylor series. When you put the complications and other boundary conditions, you can not solve the problem using these two methods. Maybe simply supported is there on both sides then you can solve by the problem by Taylor series directly you have the analytical solution too. But if I change the boundary condition to clamped or may be hinged or one side hinged, or one side clamped something like that, then you'll find difficulty.
MM: Many governments have proposed and approved many reforms to eradicate poverty, and almost all were failures. If a solution reveals itself in due course, do you think appropriate measures would be taken in time?
Prof. SC: Poverty depends upon different parameters and variables; even in the same state, different villages might have different causes of poverty. It also depends on the area, the geographical location, the climate of that area, and I think education also plays a significant role in this. Success is not a guaranteed outcome; the government implements schemes, but sometimes it fails, as do we, but only through this continuous process can we achieve success. Initially, two PhD students from the mathematics department and one from the humanities department worked in the centre.
Professor N Sethi from the humanities department acts as the guide to the one from their department, and I serve as a co-guide and vice-versa; we already have submitted a project for the one from my department. Research always needs money to award fellowships, gather data, obtain required equipment, etc. Covering the whole KBK region with two students is practically impossible, so there are bottlenecks, but we are moving forward slowly.
MM: You have mentioned bottlenecks regarding equipment. Are there inadequacies in funding?
Prof. SC: Our sponsor Mr Venkata N Peri, has funded the resources for the two students and a few more things, but we need computers, desks, and other accessories. I would say that money crunch is there, and it is one of the reasons why development is so slow, so we only hope that we sign an MoU with either the state or the central government. Funding is a secondary reason for wanting to sign that MoU; the primary reason is that we will be in constant contact with the government, which will keep them in the loop so that when we present a model, it can be implemented quickly. In this matter, we request the alumni, those who can, to contribute to research as in the IITs. If those who can donate their caution money to the PARC of our institute, then it would be constructive and beneficial for society. It would also be a confidence booster for us to see the students interested in research. I welcome the alumni to contribute to the PARC for a better cause.
MM: Has there been any assistance with the methodologies from Poverty Research Center, UC Davis? Have they been helpful?
Prof. SC: Yes, I have attended a meeting online with Mr Peri and some officials. We have had got several suggestions from the meeting. We initially planned to meet every month, but it will be done slowly.
MM: Considering the PARC facility was established over ten months ago, how far has the data been collected from the KBK region?
Prof. SC: Because of the covid situation, there are a lot of constraints. Currently, we don't have much data, and students, too, are not here. Moreover, we cannot go to the region to collect the data either. The PhD students have to complete their academic courses this semester, and the actual research work will be starting after the semester. There is some data with the humanities department in that region, but we have to process it and analyze their data types. If not for this pandemic, we would have made some progress, but now we are helpless.
MM: Looking at the current covid scenario, what challenges did you face during the research, and how did you overcome them?
Prof. SC: The major problem is that students can't come back to the institute; even if they do, they will be in Quarantine for a certain period. There they are also not allowed to go to the department regularly. We need a suitable environment for research since not everyone can pursue research sitting in one room alone, especially not in a pandemic. Even online, the students are trying their best, and I am meeting them whenever necessary.
MM: What is the current scope of research in pure sciences (especially in Maths), and how do you think it would change in the future?
Prof. SC: There is enormous scope in the field of research, there is a lot of data, and you need to understand and formulate it. Nowadays, big data analytics applies to almost every field like biomedical, life sciences, etc., and it has become an essential tool in any scientist's toolkit. There is a need for a new research culture now; there should be a place for innovation and the old research scenarios. There is vast scope, be it in science or engineering; a good example is quantum computing. There are things to be found and problems to be solved in every field.
MM: Do you think that there is a rising interest in pure sciences among the students?
Prof. SC: Yes, there is a rising interest in pure sciences among the students. I don't differentiate between science and engineering, but I can say that students currently are more oriented towards the research field. Many undergraduate students approach me with unique ideas involving artificial intelligence, etc. I used to discuss such innovative ideas in my classes, but it's quite challenging to interact with students online, so I am losing a bit of interest.
MM: What is your message for your fellow research mates and other students?
Hard work, honesty, a good rapport with the students is my message. The main difference between a diploma and a BTech degree is that the former maynot have good knowledge of mathematics. They are only equipped with the mathematics of the twelfth class, but you learn more, and it should be applied to engineering. To the students, I would say that you should have interest, don't run behind marks, run behind excellency as said by Rancho in 3 idiots.
Team MM congratulates Prof Snehashish Chakraverty and his team for bagging such prestigious awards and wishes them good luck for all their future endeavours.
Designs by – Saksham Devkota