Rita Sharma

Rita Sharma

Head of Newton Fund in India

Part of Global Science and Innovation Network

17th May 2012 New Delhi, India

Visit to Indian Institute of Geomagnetism

Recently Science and Innovation team in India converged to Mumbai to assess how we fared against our team objectives for the year 2011-12. But that’s another story. Here I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you about an institute tucked away in a city known the world over for the Bollywood industry rather than its fine work on something called ‘geomagnetism’.

The Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG), a premier institute of the Department of Science and Technology, is actively engaged in basic and applied studies in geomagnetism which has found applications in diverse fields like navigation, communication, space weather, forecasting etc. It’s housed in Navi Mumbai on Kalamboli Highway. In case you plan to travel there, ask for the Victoria petrol station as the building is hidden behind trees from the main road which meant that we went right past it and into some village before finding our way back.

Logistics aside, this institute has a number of active research groups working on theoretical, experimental and observational aspects of earth’s magnetic field. It also has labs for design and fabrication of instruments used in Geomagnetism and allied fields. It’s a regular member of India’s Antarctic expeditions and has also established a semi permanent magnetic observatory at India’s two stations in the Antarctic.

IIG has two regional centres, Equatorial Geophysical Research Laboratory at Tirunelveli and Dr KS Krishnan Geomagnetic Research Laboratory in Allahabad. It also operates ten magnetic observatories at various locations in India. One of the highlights of the institute is that it supports a World Data Centre for Geomagnetism which is the only international centre for Geomagnetic data in South Asia, and caters to the needs of Space and Earth scientists and researchers from Universities in providing magnetic data in computer compatible form.

During my visit to IIG, I had the opportunity to meet the then Director-in-Charge, Professor Mita Rajaram, a lady passionate about her work and up for increased collaborations between the UK and India. I was quite amazed to hear about IIG’s public outreach activities which included opening their doors to the general public and students to learn about this important aspect of science.

A number of scientists also came to meet me and it was a learning experience for me to listen to them talk about the work being carried out by the different groups, some of whom already have good links with UK research groups. They were keen to know more about the funding schemes available between the two countries and I promised to put them on our mailing list for the S&IN newsletter and the funding opportunities document.

All in all a very fruitful visit and I carried back with me the enthusiasm of scientists willing to cross physical boundaries to excel in their areas of work.

About Rita Sharma

Dr Rita Sharma is the Head of Newton Fund in India. The Newton Fund aims to promote the economic development and social welfare through strengthening science and innovation capacity and…

Dr Rita Sharma is the Head of Newton Fund in India. The Newton Fund aims to promote the economic development and social welfare through strengthening science and innovation capacity and unlocking further funding to support this work. The Vision of the Fund is to build a stronger, sustainable and systemic relationships with India through jointly funded research and innovation. Rita’s key role is to work with all the Newton Delivery Partners to ensure a holistic science and innovation partnership between the UK and India. Prior to taking up this position, Rita was working as the Senior Science and Innovation Adviser leading on Science Policy, Energy, Climate Change, Water and Environmental Sciences. In this capacity, her work ranged from brokering research collaborations between the UK and Indian researchers to assisting in utilisation of best available science to influence effective policy making. Rita has significant experience of working with UK and Indian government, academic and industrial partners to deliver multi-million programmes. In the past she has worked in Research Councils UK's India office as their Deputy Director and UKaid’s South Asia Research Hub as their Research Adviser. Rita has a Bachelor’s degree in Botany, Masters in Anthropology and completed her PhD in Cell Biology from Germany.

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