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June 5, 2008

Indian researcher headlines Discovery Lecture Series on global collaboration

C.N.R. Rao
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The chairman of the Science Advisory Council to India's prime minister is the keynote speaker at Purdue University's Discovery Lecture Series event on June 18, outlining how India is reaching out to the international research community.

C.N.R. Rao, the Linus Pauling Research Professor and honorary president of the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore, will headline the free event, called United States and India: Science, Policy and Funding Opportunities for Two Giant Democracies. The program begins at 3:30 p.m. in the Lawson Computer Science Building, Room 1142.

"India is a young democracy that's emerging into a global economic power," said Rao, who received a doctorate in philosophy from Purdue in 1958 and an honorary degree from the Big Ten university in 1982. "Tremendous opportunities exist for Purdue and other U.S. universities to collaborate with Indian universities, research laboratories, institutions and companies in areas of research and learning to become more globally competitive. That's the message I'll bring to Purdue."

Earlier that day, Rao will give a talk on the chemistry of nanomaterials from 11 a.m. to noon at a College of Science Centennial Celebration in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. That event is in conjunction with Purdue's launch of the Center for Analytical Instrumentation Development, which will be based at the Bindley Bioscience Center.

Pankaj Sharma
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"What better way to recognize Purdue's desire for deeper collaborations with emerging countries like India than with an event highlighted by Professor Rao, a noted global leader in science and technology learning, research and development," said event organizer Pankaj Sharma, associate director and head of Discovery Park's international programs.

For the Discovery Lecture Series event, Victor L. Lechtenberg, Purdue's vice provost for engagement, will provide opening remarks.

Gail Cassell, Eli Lilly and Co.'s vice president for scientific affairs and the company's distinguished research scholar for infectious diseases, will then give a presentation on how the United States is responding to the need for more college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Arbinda Mitra, executive director of the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum, also will discuss funding opportunities for bilateral research activities between the United States and India.

Mitra's agency recently funded a 12-month fellowship for an Indian researcher from Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow to work with Michael Rossmann, the Hanley Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences in Purdue's School of Science.

Earlier this year, civil engineering professor Srinivas Peeta, director of the U.S. Department of Transportation's NEXTRANS Center in Discovery Park, also was invited to 2008 Indo-American Frontiers of Engineering Symposium sponsored by the Indo-U.S. Science & Technology Forum and jointly organized by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

 Sharma said India's economy has grown nearly 9 percent a year the past four years. At the same time, about one-third of India's population today is under the age of 15. Over the next five years, India will be responsible for nearly 25 percent of the increase in the world's working-age population, according to a World Bank report released in October.

"This lecture celebrates Purdue's commitment to expanding its global reach as we work to bring together the brightest minds to tackle the world's biggest problems," Sharma said.

In August, Purdue will lead a workshop, "Scalable Nanomaterials for Enhanced Energy Transport, Conversion and Efficiency," in collaboration with Indian institutions, corporations and partial funding by the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum. A similar Purdue symposium on bionanotechnology and pharmaceuticals was conducted in March in Hyderabad, India.

Timothy Fisher, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering, and graduate student Kyle Smith of the Birck Nanotechnology Center spent five months in late 2007 and early 2008 in Bangalore collaborating on carbon nanotube research with Rao.

Rao, who has led the Indian Institute of Science since 1984, was a chemistry professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur from 1963-76, head of the chemistry department from 1964-68, and its research dean for three years. He also led the Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit and Materials Research Laboratory at the Indian Institute of Science from 1976-84. During his career, Rao has published more than 30 books and 1,000 research papers.

Purdue researcher R. Graham Cooks, the Henry Bohn Hass Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and Sharma met with government, industry and university officials in India in December to explore research agreements in analytical instrumentation, climate change, energy, health care and pharmacy. They also discussed student internship and faculty exchange programs.

This summer, Discovery Park is hosting two students for summer research in malaria, cellular reorganization and neural network through an exchange program with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, and National Center for Biological Science in Bangalore. And earlier this year, four Purdue graduate students traveled to India through a Discovery Park program to participate in international conferences on global climate and the mechanics of cells.

"Research communities are becoming more and more global in scope, thanks in part to the Internet, which helps us keep in touch and share knowledge," said Charlotte Kendra Castillo, a Purdue graduate student from Purdue Climate Change Research Center who traveled to India in February. "We need to be informed, to communicate and to function well in a community that spans cultures and disciplines."

In February 2007, a Purdue research contingent signed an agreement with the Indian Department of Science and Technology to establish formal research collaborations and exchanges of researchers, students and faculty between Purdue and Indian institutions.

The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment provided a $1 million gift to Purdue's Discovery Park in 2005 to sponsor the ongoing Discovery Lecture Series.

Discovery Park, Purdue's hub for translational interdisciplinary research, is home to 11 research centers focusing on areas such as life sciences, advanced manufacturing, the environment and cancer care to health-care engineering, entrepreneurship, nanotechnology and energy.

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, (765) 496-3133,

Sources: Pankaj Sharma, (765) 496-7452,

C.N.R. Rao, 91-80-2365-3075,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: Journalists who want to schedule an interview with C.N.R. Rao in advance of his visit to the Purdue can contact Phillip Fiorini, Purdue News Service, (765) 496-3133,, or Elizabeth Gardner, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2081,

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