June 5, 2009
School of Biotechnology, Amritapuri
“Scientists created artificial cells that can live and produce proteins but can’t replicate, providing a new tool for studying cellular processes … ”
“Preliminary evidence indicates that people can quell either temperature or chronic physical pain by learning to use their minds to reduce activity in a key brain area … ”
“Scientists investigated a substance inside nopal cactus leaves that can separate solids and heavy metals from water. The group planned to make an inexpensive water filter … ”
The above are just some snippets from Rtam, the 200-page college magazine brought out by the students of the School of Biotechnology in 2008-2009. What is unique about the magazine, apart from the fact that it has a cross-section of articles on different topics, is that it is printed on eco-friendly paper. As such, the students claim that it is India’s first eco-friendly college magazine.
“Let’s do something different, something never done before, let’s bring out a magazine … an eco-friendly one!! Facing problems that many would shun, still we had laughter and loads of fun!” Co-editors Anitha Kaveri and Aravind S., biotech students, eloquently penned their Editorial Saga thus. What were the problems that the duo faced? Apart from the usual issues with editing submissions, type-setting and graphics, some unusual ones that came from using eco-friendly paper for printing. The paper was donated by ITC, but the printing press did not have experience printing on such paper.
The duo persisted and with support from their peers and faculty, ultimately triumphed. The magazine brought them sincere praise from all quarters. Deepak Bhatnagar, Advisor, Department of Science and Technology wrote in, “Hearty congratulations to both of you as well as your entire team of editors, page-makers, illustrators, proof-readers and finally, the bright, future scientists who contributed articles, poems and ‘toons’! … With so many depressing news in all our print media, we surely need budding young scientists like you to write about the wondrous, exciting things which science is giving us to make this world a better place to live in! … Best wishes — May your tribe increase.”
Can Biotech Slow Down Global Warming? Converging Technologies — Nano Bio Info Cogno, these were some of the articles that had original thoughts of the students and faculty. The Dean of the School, Dr. Bipin Nair, contributed with a technical writeup about nanotechnology and its applications in modern drug development and delivery. There were the results of a survey conducted by final year B Sc students about the attitude of their peers to research. Many students wanted to make careers in research in science, despite the fact that India does not yet have a thriving research culture. This was only one of among several promising trends that the survey highlighted.
The Amrita School of Biotechnology uses Amrita’s e-learning platform; sometimes scientists on the other side of the globe engage classes for students. There was a frank and appreciative student account of such a class. “What do bullet proof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers and laser printers all have in common?” another article asked. “All these were invented by women.” There were articles about music therapy, yoga and Indian architecture. There were a few contributions in other languages such as Malayalam and Hindi as well. “Wearing headphones for just an hour will increase the bacteria in your ear by 700 times,” there were additional interesting snippets like this one.
“I would like to congratulate the students of the Amrita School of Biotechnology in bringing out a college magazine and that too on eco-friendly hand-made paper,” wrote in Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CEO and CMD of Biocon Limited. “Biotechnology as a business segment for India has the potential of generating revenues of $5 billion and creating 1 million skilled jobs by 2010 through products and services. This can propel India into a significant position in the global biotech sweepstakes and position our country as the preferred global destination for biotechnology. The Amrita institute has an important role to play in this endeavor and the magazine will be a strong platform for the students and the institute to raise their profile in Indian Biotechnology.”
* Rtam, in Sanskrit, means eternal truth.