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Shoolini University of Biotechnology and Management Sciences holds 2nd Convocation; Nobel laureate Dr Robert Huber graces the occasion

World renowned biochemist and Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry, Dr Robert Huber, urged students to become noble human beings. Dr Huber was addressing the Second Convocation of Shoolini University of Biotechnology and Management Sciences held on 15th December, 2015, as the Chief Guest.

Dr Huber was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the year 1988 for the determination of the three-dimensional structure of a photosynthetic reaction. Born in 1937 in Munich, Germany, Dr Huber is presently working at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry.

Dr RS Paroda, Padma Bhushan and former Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Government of India, presided over the Convocation as the Guest of Honour. German scientist Dr Kurt Geckeler also attended the event.

Eminent scientists and personalities from the field of science, education and industry were also present on the occasion.

1573 degrees were awarded at the convocation out of which 745 were undergraduate, 710 postgraduate, 65 M Phil and 53 doctorate. Dr Huber handed over the degrees to the students while Dr Paroda gave away the gold medals and merit-certificates to the meritorious students.

Addressing the graduating students, Huber said, “I adhere to the unity of research and education at Universities, known as the Wilhelm von Humboldt principle of the desired relation between teachers and students.”

He added that it was a privilege to look into the eyes of the graduating students as they were gleaming with joy and their faces filled with aspirations.

Huber said India was lucky to have the largest group of English speaking youth, which could be trained by collaboration with international institutions to employ their talent in nation building.

Sharing his childhood with students the Nobel laureate said, “I am a war-child. Munich, my home town, was in ruins like large parts of Germany. Primary school was not in operation and my mother taught me reading and writing. A high-school Gymnasium, was opened with a focus on old languages, Latin and Greek, no Chemistry, which however fascinated me greatly. I learnt from books and executed simple experiments in the attic of my parent's house. I specialized on crystallography and crystals. I wanted to view the

inside of these sparkling objects which I collected during hikes. I very lucky to enter a young field of research where new findings lured behind every corner. I was happy and excited and worked day and night and was particularly attracted by the multi-discipline, as the experiments required methods of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and computer science.”

Crediting scientists like CV Raman, Röntgen and Laue for their findings and excited at the new developments, Dr Huber said, “Modern science rests on key discoveries. Research often generously bestows on us exciting moments. We may see for the first time a molecule, nobody has seen before. But each discovery requires a prepared mind. It is then like a lightning, a flash of sudden insight. New discoveries are around the corner. It needs open eyes, a keen mind and enthusiasm to grasp them. How to be prepared: find out what you really want to do and do it with enthusiasm”.

Huber said that food, energy, health and environment were the huge challenges of mankind, but the solutions are also present in the brains of the young people and their enthusiasm.

“Research will play a decisive role in all developments by making draught and salt tolerant crop plants by biology; new strategies by analysing the biology of the pathogens and the design and chemical synthesis of novel antibiotics and designing new materials for solar cells, easier and cheaper than the classical silicon based technology,” added Dr Huber.

Lauding Shoolini University of Biotechnology and Management Sciences for setting up the Centre of Research on Himalayan Sustainability and Development, Prof Huber said , “If the task is earnest it will make the university stand aloof among other Himalayan Universities and will be able to employ research and development tools for societal benefits on the one hand and conservation of bio-resources on the other.”

He added that the policy of the University to look east, but to employ modern tools for analyzing their rich and very diverse world of plants and their natural products in medicinal chemistry leading to drug discovery will fetch prominence to the University at the National and the International level. He urged the university to collaborate with western universities taking advantage of the relative strength of both sides.

Congratulating the graduating students, Dr Raj Paroda hoped that the patents filed by university would generate revenue worth millions after clinical trials.

Praising the university’s initiative for conservation of biodiversity of valuable genetic resources of the state, Dr Paroda advised the university to establish a repository and a data base on Himalayan biodiversity, including research on propagation techniques, drug development and to build a gene bank, including facilities for tissue culture and cryopreservation.

“In the past, India has successfully contested foreign patents on turmeric and basmati rice and we must gear ourselves to do so if similar eventuality arises,” said Dr Paroda.

Expressing dismay over the policy paralysis concerning use of genetically modified crops, Dr Paroda said “Due to wrong public perception, mainly on account of lack of informed knowledge, there are difficulties even in conducting confined field trials. On the contrary, to meet our future demands on account of growing population and the rising cost of cultivation due to costly inputs, we see no viable alternatives, but to go for biotech products that are safe for human consumption and our environment.”

Dr Paroda added “My advice to young graduates is that you change your mindset. You must have 'Out of Box' thinking process put in place and aspire to be 'job creators rather than job seekers'. Instead of looking for white collar jobs, you must think of becoming young entrepreneurs to identify and promote new innovations and work hard towards success. Be alert and tap these opportunities with needed confidence and an element to take risks. Remember, never ever compromise on ethics.”

He asked the students not to get complacent and work towards food and nutrition security, improvement of soil health and poverty alleviation. Dr Paroda added that innovation was necessary for making research reach its end users.

In his address to the students, Chancellor, Mr Ramesh Mehan, said, “Take action on your dreams. There are going to be times when you are going to face challenges in making your dreams come true. Instead of hiding in your shell, stick your neck out and go out and meet the challenges head on.”

Thanking Dr Robert Huber and Dr Paroda for gracing the convocation, Mr Vishal Anand, Trustee, Shoolini University, said, “Listening to prominent personalities like Nobel Laureate Dr Huber and Dr Paroda should definitely push the students towards achieving more in the field of science.”

He hoped that the students’ would get inspired from these towering personalities from the field of science and aim to get a Nobel Prize for the country.