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'Research ensures promising career prospects'

Short Content: 

Dr Neeraj Mahindroo, Director Research and Dean, Pharmaceutical Sciences, has been leading the research activities in the University. In this free-wheeling interview with KHYAATI SHARMA, he talks on topics ranging from his decision to return from the US to the importance of research and futures prospects, including employment opportunities, for researchers.

Dr Neeraj Mahindroo, Director Research and Dean, Pharmaceutical Sciences, has been leading the research activities in the University. In this free-wheeling interview with KHYAATI SHARMA, he talks on topics ranging from his decision to return from the US to the importance of research and futures prospects, including employment opportunities, for researchers.

What helped you make your mind to shift back to India from the US and what were the difficulties you faced along the way?

It is not easy to decide to move back from the US. Of course, there is a huge difference in the lifestyle and work culture in organisations abroad as compared to India. But when I decided that was the only stage I could have moved back to India as my son was around seven years old. If I had stayed there then later it would have been nearly impossible to come back because then the transition becomes a little difficult for children. So, this prompted me to go back home, to India and I got a chance to get back to my home state as I got an offer from Jaypee University to join.

How is your working with Shoolini University different from working with different educational institutes?

Shoolini University is very unique in terms of being research oriented and you get a lot of independence. You can work on the ideas that you want to work on and the university is very receptive to ideas. As head of the school I was given a free hand to re-organise it and to take it to where I thought it should go.

That kind of independence especially in India is rare to find. What are the opportunities of research at our University?

Shoolini is built on the vision of research. The vision and mission of the university is to work on problems that are related to this region. So, the focus is on Himalayas, its people and to conserve the biodiversity and its sustainability. The requirements of this region are very different from other parts of the country or of the world. The area is very fragile, has different zones which have unique flora with a wealth of medicinal plants. Shoolini has to grow in research and we have all the ingredients available for that right from the will of the management to very good researchers, facilities, etc. We are already among the top universities in terms of research. Our research output indices are better than the average of Top 10 NIRF ranked universities of 2018. That is enough to say we are going in the right direction. We need to maintain that go, without being complacent and have to ensure that every step forward is taken carefully and we maintain this culture of research. We are adding new schools, new courses are being introduced and the facilities are improving. Collaborations are increasing, we are signing MoUs with a number of Universities in India and abroad that brings in the expertise where we lack it. There is a huge potential and the management itself is giving a lot of thrust to it. In the future there might also be post – docs so all those ingredients will help in taking it further.

We will definitely widen the scope of research in Shoolini. What are the resources that will support research?

Research is a very costly affair especially research in sciences and engineering. It requires a lot of costly equipment and consumables. Huge research funds are required and fortunately, we have been able to attract a number of grants from funding agencies within India. Although, they are still biased against private universities despite that we have got grants of over Rs 20 crores but now, we need to go to industry and we also need to attract international agencies. With the base work done, I think Shoolini is ready to go into the next phase and if we are able to get some bigger grants which can help us create some centres of excellence, say in Himalayan Biodiversity or other areas which are very relevant to this area.

What is the most challenging part of the position you are holding onto today?

The most challenging part is to ensure that the volume of research output increases and at the same time, quality of the work and its scientific integrity should be maintained. Usually when there is some sort of pressure to increase the output, people start cooking up the results. So, this is always ensured that the work done in Shoolini should be of very high quality and is of scientific integrity.

How is research dominating other areas of education nowadays?

Research is a very important component of the education system. Both go hand in hand. If you are just teaching or just doing research, usually that balance may not work out. The young minds you interact to in the teaching class can give you very good ideas because they think out of box. The experience of research can bring out wonderful results. We are a country of 130 million people despite that we have not been able to leave an imprint of any innovativeness in terms of the current scientific output. So, we need to train and motivate our young minds and that can only be done if both research and teaching go hand in hand. They are the future of India and can deal with the problems of our region, state, country as well as the world.

What are the new job opportunities which are arising in the areas of sciences and research?

Research will always remain the best. If you see the difference which has come from a century in the world, one of the major reasons for the change is the research. Research will always have job opportunities. Almost everything is changing; the way of manufacturing, packaging, delivery and everything else is changing too. If one is good in research, he/she will automatically be able to generate good jobs and good money too.

How important you think is to maintain the balance between the placements and research for any educational institution?

Both are not mutually exclusive. If you are a good researcher or a good student who have done really good research project, you will definitely get good placements. It’s not that if you are doing research you cannot get placed or if you are getting placed, you cannot do research. Both go hand in hand. If you are able to do good research, you will definitely be famous, the university will also be known and people would be attracted. Research jobs are one of the best paid jobs. So, if a student shows good performance in research, there is no shortage of jobs across the world.

What is your comment on the latest NIRF rankings 2018?

The university has done really very well. We competed in three different areas for the rankings and we came out with flying colours in all three. The university of course maintained its rank between 101 and 150. In pharmacy, we improved the ranking. We were 39 last year and gained the 30th position this year. We have been maintaining our rank in the top 40 schools of Pharmacy in the country competing with over 1100 schools for Pharmacy which are approved by Pharmacy Council of India which shows that the quality of research is improving and it’s being appreciated. We are only 9 years old and it shows that we are heading towards the best direction. The faculty of Pharmacy is very diverse and is one of the best faculties in the university. Also, the ranking of the School of Business Management is great. I hope that 2019 rankings will surely move further up and we are definitely going to be one of the best research universities of the country.

What does the term leadership mean to you? How do you categorise your leadership style?

A leader is what the team is. If you can build a team and you can work with it to achieve the desired dreams that is the best leadership. Whatever the team is, that will surely reflect in the leader. Your message to students. Work hard. There are 130 million Indians and 600 million people in this world. Of course, you need to enjoy, but if you want to succeed, you have to surely work hard.