It is a pleasure to know that the students of IISER Mohali have taken the initiative to start a magazine. I think that this magazine will shape up well and will develop into an important mouthpiece of the IISER community. The basic mandate of the IISERs is to carry out research in frontier areas of science and to provide quality science education at the undergraduate and the postgraduate level. The major focus of the Institute is to create a world class scientific institution with an intellectually alive research atmosphere. Therefore, a magazine of this nature can contribute in many different ways in the development of the Institute.
I am going to use this opportunity to describe the main features of the teaching and research programs of IISER. The 5 year MS (Int) program in Science at IISER Mohali admits students after 10+2. The course structure is interdisciplinary and research oriented in nature, with a focus on basic sciences. The curriculum provides comprehensive core courses in the first two years of the programs in all areas of basic sciences: chemical, physical, mathematical and biological sciences. After the first two core years, students can branch out to contemporary areas of interdisciplinary research of their choice. In addition to the basic courses, IISERs will also have courses in the interdisciplinary areas of
earth, planetary and environmental sciences, computational sciences, humanities and social sciences. With a firm foundation in basic sciences and mathematics in the first two years, the students will be able (with counseling) to choose the subject in which they will major An early exposure to research through summer training in other laboratories and institutions of the country, including industrial organizations, and counseling schemes for major R&D career opportunities are other attractive features of the program. To begin with, 25 students have been admitted to the integrated Masters program at IISER Mohali in the session that began on 16th August 2007. These students were admitted on the basis of the “Extended JEE List” of the IITs, KVPY and Indian National Olympiad selection. The 5-Yr MS(Int) graduates of IISER Mohali are expected to take up science as a career although the diverse skills gained will equip them to pursue high-profile careers in any field,including industry .
Through liaison with research laboratories under the Department of Atomic Energy, Space, Science and Technology and Biotechnology, as well as the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, opportunities will be created for job placement for students on the basis of campus interviews. The fifth year of the integrated Masters program will be devoted to full time research or to a technical project or to specialized training, in which the students will have to write a dissertation. The research component results in lowering of the average period for obtaining a PhD, for those students who pursue a doctoral program at IISER. Provisions for an accelerated development for truly deserving individuals will be a special feature of the program. The IISERs will maintain a high standard of education, training and scholarship, comparable to the best Indian institutes and international universities in various areas of learning. In addition to the integrated Masters program, the IISERwill also have a post B. Sc Integrated PhD program, as well as a doctoral program (post M. Sc). All teaching activities will be based on a semester system accompanied by vigorous teacher-student contact through research, journal clubs, seminars and colloquia. Rigorous laboratory courses will be an essential part of the program.
IISER Mohali aims to be a “knowledge basin of attractor” in the northern region in India within the next decade. In this context, the institute plans on developing a synergetic network with other academic institutions both in India and abroad, and will hold regular conferences, seminars and symposia in research areas as well as workshops aimed at addressing fundamental issues in science education in India. The doctoral program at IISER Mohali involves course work, a qualifying examination, thesis work and a thesis examination, leading to the award of a PhD degree. Besides research, scholars will be involved in several professional activities such as seminars, workshops and review meetings. The institute has provisions for a number of post-doctoral fellowships as well. The PhD program has already started and seven students have been admitted in July 2008. Research infrastructure currently available at IISER Mohali includes a computing facility, an instrumentation facility and a modern library with access to many research journals and on-line databases. IISER Mohali aims to have a strong core faculty selected on a highly competitive basis and supported by attractive startup research grants. Young and bright scientists including those wanting to return to India from abroad for teaching and research careers will be specially considered for faculty positions.Current faculty research at IISER Mohali spans a diverse spectrum ranging from theoretical chemistry, quantum information processing, metamaterials and spectroscopy to inorganic, physical chemistry, algebra, immunology and biophysics. I wish all the success to this magazine and sincerely hope that it becomes an important organ of the Institute where students and faculty will expose their creativity and air their views on every kind of matters.