August 30, 2012
School of Biotechnology, Amritapuri
“One of our main computational labs is modeling the cerebellum and we have been successful in making realistic biophysical models of the cerebellar granular layers,” explained Dr. Shyam Diwakar, Assistant Professor, Amrita School of Biotechnology.
“Our students have shown a keen interest to implement such models on a variety of architectures,” he added.
Now Amrita students will have the opportunity to use CUDA developed by the American company NVIDIA to develop their computational biology applications. In doing so, they will join a select group of students at the best colleges nationally and internationally such as IIT Bombay, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, University of Oxford, Tokyo Institute of Technology, etc. that use this leading parallel computing platform and programming model.
The Computational Neurosciences research team will also make use of this programming for building cerebellar models for sensory information processing. The team will receive funding, CUDA enabled GPUs and course material assistance from the American company.
“The company selects academic institutions it wants to closely work with, based on its vision for developing the applications and technology for GPU Computing. It manufactures GPUs or Graphic Processing Units that are very efficient in helping develop high-resolution and interactive 3D computer graphics,” elaborated Dr. Shyam.
“Plans for dissemination and implementation of research results are also taken into consideration,” he added.
The fact that the Amrita School of Biotechnology is a key member of the nationally-funded initiative to develop Virtual Labs in India and regularly publishes its research outcomes would have definitely played a significant role in NVIDIA’s selection of Amrita as a significant partner.
A research paper titled Role of ICT-enabled, visualization-oriented, virtual laboratories in universities for enhancing biotechnology education: Case Study and Impacts was recently published in FormaMente, an international journal published by GUIDE (Global Universities in Distance Education).
The paper studied and analyzed the trends of user behavior towards virtual laboratories and the usability of these laboratories as a learning and curriculum material. It was authored by Dr. Shyam Diwakar, Dr. Bipin Nair, Dr. Krishnashree Achuthan and research associates viz. Remya Krishnan, Nijin Nizar, Rakhi Radhamani, Karthika Rajan, Afila Yoosef, Gopika Sujatha, Vijilamole Radhamony.
“Our virtual lab research associates collected all the data and analyzed the role of virtual labs as teaching and education tools. The paper reported on applying virtualization techniques and how biotechnology education could be intensified by using virtual labs as effective pedagogy tools,” Dr. Shyam underlined.