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Rare distinction for IIT Guwahati's Prof Rakhi Chaturvedi

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati's Prof Rakhi Chaturvedi has been recognised by the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor, Government of India

IIT Guwahati

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  9 March 2022 5:45 AM GMT

GUWAHATI: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati's Prof Rakhi Chaturvedi has been recognised by the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor, Government of India and British High Commission, New Delhi, among the top 75 Indian Women in STEAM (fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Applied Arts and Mathematics).

According to a press release, on being selected as one of the 75 women in STEAM, Prof Chaturvedi will be featured in 'She Is -75 Women in STEAM', the second edition of the book series 'She Is'.

The announcement was made on March 3 by Principal Scientific Advisor Prof K Vijay Raghavan and British High Commissioner Alex Ellis. The aim of the 'She Is' book series is to showcase more women role models for youth, make visible the leadership of women and generate interest in the STEAM and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Currently, Dr Rakhi Chaturvedi is a Professor at the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, IIT Guwahati. Born in Prayagraj (earlier Allahabad), Uttar Pradesh, Dr Chaturvedi received her B Sc degree from Ewing Christian College, Allahabad, and M Sc degree from the University of Allahabad. She moved to Delhi and pursued her M Phil and PhD degrees from the University of Delhi. She did her post-doctoral studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

After joining IIT Guwahati in 2004, Dr Chaturvedi has been involved in a wide range of research and academic activities. Her high-impact research findings have been published in peer-reviewed prestigious national/international journals. She has presented her work in many international and national forums. Prof Chaturvedi is presently the Head of the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering and has contributed extensively in various administrative positions at IIT Guwahati for more than ten years and has been actively involved in promoting partnership/collaborations with national/international institutions leading to an International joint degree program.

Dr Chaturvedi has contributed immensely to the research field of Plant Cell Tissue Culture and Agrobiotechnology. Firstly, for her commendable work on two complex tree species where she developed, for the first time, in vitro triploids (seedless) of neem, and haploids and doubled-haploids (homozygous diploid (Pure) lines) of neem and tea, making them amenable for generating hybrid vigour (superior plants) in these tree species. The genetic improvement of these plants is very challenging and mostly impossible using the conventional methods that employ repeated selfing, which does not work as these trees are mostly cross-pollinating with a long growth cycle. Her group has filed two patents, (i) A method for in-vitro production of haploids & doubled-haploids in Azadirachta indica A. Juss, (neem) and (ii) A method for in vitro production of pure line doubled-haploids in Camellia ssp. (Tea). Secondly, for developing a process for the production of commercial compounds of medicinal value by employing in-vitro Plant Cell Culture Technology as an alternative and complementary tool to whole-plant extraction. Although these compounds can also be isolated from naturally grown whole plants, the continued destruction of plants for the purpose may pose a major threat to plant species getting extinct, and moreover some of the plants are endemic. Thirdly, for creating sizeable cultivation of top quality Banana, Giloy and Stevia plants (a natural sweetener), using in vitro micropropagation methods. The Stevia plants with higher glycosides and disease-free Banana plants are made available to the farmers, women and entrepreneurs as a source of earning by cultivating quality plantations.

Speaking about this recognition, Prof Chaturvedi mentioned that this honour is a great motivation for her and her research group. It will encourage her and her students to carry out their research and development with more passion as the research area on plant tissue culture requires lots of dedication, patience, and perseverance to achieve breakthrough research output that has societal impact. These tissue culture techniques can have a tremendous impact on agricultural production by generating disease-free quality plantations at a large scale with the added advantage of value addition to the farm yields (crops, fruits, vegetables, trees, etc.) in a very short time throughout the year, irrespective of season and region.

Prof Chaturvedi is also a Visiting Professor at Gifu University, Japan, and is a recipient of the 'Prof FC Steward Memorial Award 2021' Instituted by the Plant Tissue Culture Association-India (PTCA-I); 'Newton-Bhabha Leading Women Scientist Award' in Crop and Agricultural Sciences 2016 instituted by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), New Delhi, Cambridge University, UK; 'Prof YS Murty Gold Medal 2011' by the Indian Botanical Society (IBS); and also selected for UNESCO 'one-month lab revisit' programme at Osaka University, Japan in 2012; an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI) and Plant Tissue Culture Association-India (PTCA-I); and International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS).

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