Science Academies' Refresher Course on "Foundations of Physical Chemistry and its Applications"  Organized by Indian Women Scientists’ Association (15th to 30th December, 2017)

Report on the Science Academies’ Sponsored Refresher Course on “Foundations of Physical Chemistry and its Applications”
The Science Academies’ Sponsored Refresher Course on “Foundations of Physical Chemistry and its Applications” was held at Indian Women Scientists’ Association Head Quarters at ICICI Multipurpose Hall, Sector 10-A, Dr. Mar Theophilus Marg, Vashi, Navi Mumbai 400703  during 15-30 December, 2017. The fifteen day course covered various topics in physical chemistry such as, Quantum chemistry and molecular structure, chemical thermodynamics and applications, electrochemistry and applications, physical chemistry principles involved in analytical chemistry, physical organic chemistry, catalysis, interfacial chemistry and chemical kinetics. The course comprised of lectures, tutorials and experiments.
The advertisement  for the Refresher Course appeared in the July 2017 issue of Current Science and August 2017 issue of Resonance. Thirty eight post graduate teachers and six students from all over India had applied. After screening, selection letters were sent to 26 participants (22  outstation and 4 local participants) and they were requested to confirm their participation by 15th November 2017.  Others were kept in the wait-list. As only about 50 % of the selected participants confirmed their participation, selection letters were sent to the wait-listed participants. Many of them accepted the offer. As on 11th December, 2017, the confirmed list of participants was 26 (22 outstation and 4 local).  Just two days before the start of the course, emails were received from several confirmed participants about their inability to attend the course. The main reason for their inability to attend was that they did not get leave from their college. Finally, 18 participants attended the course on all the fifteen days (10 outstation and 8 local participants). Four local participants were contacted and requested to participate in the course on 14th December, 2017.
Physical Chemistry is the branch of chemistry that deals with the mechanism, the rate and the energy transfer that occurs when matter undergoes  change. Understanding the key concepts of physical chemistry is essential for solving practical problems in research and industrial applications. The course comprised of lectures on the following topics: Quantum chemistry and molecular structure, chemical thermodynamics and applications, electrochemistry and applications, physical chemistry principles involved in analytical chemistry, physical organic chemistry, catalysis, interfacial chemistry and chemical kinetics.

The course was inaugurated by Dr. J.P. Mittal, former Director of Chemistry Group, BARC and INSA Senior Scientist. Dr. Indira Priyadarsini, Director of the Course welcomed the participants and guests and explained the genesis of the course. Dr. Surekha Zingde, President IWSA made a presentation about the various activities of IWSA and highlighted the efforts of IWSA in regularly organising the Science academies Refresher Courses in various disciplines. Dr. Shyamala Bharadwaj, Coordinator of the refresher course presented the overview of the lectures and various activities planned for the next fifteen days. Dr. J.P.Mittal spoke about the various educational programs of the Science Academies and motivated the participants to actively involve themselves in the activities of the Science academies. Vote of thanks was given by Dr. Lalitha Dhareshwar, Vice President of IWSA.

Several evening lectures were arranged during the course. Some of the eminent speakers of the evening lectures were: Padma Shri. Dr. J.P. Mittal, who is a fellow of all the three science academies and a distinguished INSA Senior Scientist, Prof. Lakshmi Kantham, Fellow of NASI and INSA and the first women director of a CSIR Institute, Dr. Swapan Ghosh, fellow of all the three science academies and a well known theoretical chemist, Prof. Vasudeva Rao, Vice Chancellor of HBNI and Prof. Shridhar Gadre, Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Awardee, Fellow of IAS and INSA.  The talks by these distinguished speakers were highly motivating for the participants. All the lectures were very well received by the participants and there were intense discussions with the speakers.

One of the main highlights of the Refresher Course was the one-day workshop on Physical Chemistry Experiments conducted by scientists from Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE) on 18-12-2017. The participants were given certain experimental problems and there were discussions on how to interact with students and make them interpret the observations from these experiments. The participants interacted with the scientists of HBCSE and there were lively discussions about conducting experiments in physical chemistry and interpreting the results.

Two visits to the R&D centre of ONGC at Panvel Navi Mumbai were arranged on 20-12-2017 and 21-12-2017. The scientists of the centre enthusiastically explained to the participants of the course about how these R&D centres find instant solutions to the various problems faced by the Oil and Natural Gas industry. Various aspects of corrosion problems, including those due to microbial attacks on the oil pipe lines, effects of parameters such as viscosity etc on the flow rates of oil and gas, and several day to day problems faced by the industry and how the R&D centre addresses these problems were explained to the participants. The participants also had an exposure to experimental aspects of scanning electron microscope and microstructural analysis of structural materials used in the industry. Overall it was a rich experience for the participants of how the knowledge gained in class rooms can be applied to solve problems of industry that serves the nation.

The participants learned about several analytical techniques such as ICP-MS, ICP-OES, gas chromatography, XRD, photo luminescence, thermal analysis etc during their visit to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre on 22nd December, 2017.   The participants were highly motivated by the scientists who explained to them the intricacies of doing experiments with sophisticated equipment and interpreting the results with careful observations.

As part of the Refresher Course, an exhibition cum poster display of various technologies developed by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) for the societal applications was organised during 18-20 December, 2017.  The participants learnt about the mandate of DAE  to harness atomic energy for generation of a clean, green and benign source of electricity and  how the activities of DAE are also for other societal applications in a variety of areas like health-care, agriculture & food, water resource management, industry, environment, research and education.

There was a one - day workshop on Mass Spectrometry and its applications on 29th December, 2017.  There were lectures on various types of mass spectrometers, mass analysers, detectors etc,, followed by demonstration of a proto type quadrupole mass spectrometer which has been designed and fabricated at Technical Physics Division of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. This motivated the participants about indigenous development of instruments. They also had hands on experience in observing and interpreting mass spectra.

On the concluding day of the Refresher Course (30-12-2017), an additional lecture on “Chemical Ecology” was delivered by Dr. Meena Haribal, who has conducted research in chemical ecology for almost 25 years  at Cornell University and Boyce Thompson Institute in Ithaca, NY, USA. This lecture was not in the original schedule of the program, but was included so as to provide a completely different aspect of chemistry i.e. chemistry and biology to understand our environment. We were fortunate that Dr. Haribal agreed to speak during her visit to IWSA on 30th December, 2017.   This was followed by Prof. Gadre’s lecture on “Electrostatics Landscapes of Molecules”. All the participants actively interacted with the speakers during both these lectures.

The participants then had a very interesting interactive session with a panel of distinguished scientists, who are also well known for their contributions towards chemistry education. The panellists were: Prof. Shridhar Gadre of Pune University, Prof. V.K. Jain, Director, Centre of Excellence in Basic Science, Mumbai University and Prof. S.D. Samant, a renowned scientist from Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai and Former President of Association of Chemistry Teachers. Initially, the panellists spoke about their views on chemistry education and research. The participants then expressed their difficulties in teaching some of the topics in chemistry to undergraduate students and the panellists advised them on how these difficulties can be overcome. There were also lively discussions between the participants and panellists about interdisciplinary research and how there are no boundaries such as physical chemistry, organic chemistry etc. and for that matter even among various disciplines of science like, chemistry, biology, physics etc. Ideas on how the teachers can motivate their students to consider and address research queries were also discussed. Dr. Indira Priyadarsini, Dr. Shyamala Bharadwaj, Dr. Leela Jain and Dr. Surekha Zingde also expressed their views and gave suggestions during the discussion.

The panellists presented the participation certificates and books on chemistry to all the participants at the Valedictory Function.  The course was well appreciated by all the participants, speakers and guest participants and all of them expressed their view that this course will go a long way in enhancing the teaching capabilities of the post graduate teachers.   

Dr. Shyamala Bharadwaj
Course Coordinator




  • SCIENCE ACADEMIES’REFRESHER COURSE ON FOUNDATIONS OF PHYSICS 20 DECEMBER 2014 to 2   JANUARY 2015 SPONSORED BY                                                                                   

    Indian Academy of Sciences            Indian National Science Academy          The National Academy of
               Bangalore                                                    New Delhi                                       Sciences, India, Allahabad
    Organized by Indian Women Scientists’ Association, Mumbai

    Scientific Report on the Course

    The fourteen days’ Course sponsored by the Joint Educational Panel of the Science Academies on ‘Foundations of Physics’ was organized by the  Indian Women Scientists’ Association at their Head Quarters at Vashi, Navi Mumbai from 20th December, 2014 - 2nd January 2015. There were about 20 participants from colleges across the country, many of whom were Associate Professors in their respective colleges.
    The year 2014 has been declared as the International Year of Crystallography (IYCr2014) by the UNESCO. Therefore, it was planned in the beginning itself, that the Refresher Course would  cover some of the interesting topics in this area, as well as other topical subjects relevant to graduate and post graduate courses, such as:  Electricity and Magnetism, Thermodynamics, Statistical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Mathematical Physics, Materials Science, Lasers and Optics, Plasma Physics,  Nanoscience and Technology and Physics Teaching.  The Refresher course was planned to have a blend of lectures on theory of the above subjects as well as Laboratory sessions. Experiments were carefully selcted on some of the topics from the Acdemies’ Kit.

    The course was designed on the basis of the elective courses at MSc level. It was decided to integrate basic level lectures with some of the advanced topics. In this way, the participants would refresh their basic knowledge and would become aware of the frontiers in each subject. It was decided to hold basic level talks as regular lectures and advanced topics as “Evening Talks”. These evening talks were delivered by some of the best speakers in that field. The speakers were asked to communicate the advanced topics in simple manner, starting at basic level and building it to advanced level. The topics were of contemporary nature which could encourage teachers and students from nearby colleges. A wide publicity was given for these lectures.

    The course was inaugurated by Dr. R. Chidambaram (Principal Scientific Advisor to the PMO) on the 20th December, 2014. In his inaugural speech, Dr. Chidambaram addressed the audience on ‘Crystallography and Knowledge-driven Economy’, where he stressed on the need of the nation to translate knowledge into products to make India a developed country. He discussed the different components required for an Ideal Education System to attract students into careers in Science after the schooling stage and highlighted the constitution of Emerging Educational Technology that has made effective in-roads in our educational system.

    The course started with talks on material science on the first day. The two weeks’ course included 33 talks covering most subjects of physics : crystallography, High energy physics, nano science & technology, lasers & laser photonics, nuclear physics & energy, plasma physics, accelerator technology, electricity & Electricity & electrodynamics & Thermodynamics & Statistical physics, communication techniques, solar power as emerging technology, quantum physics, importance of calculus development, etc. There were ten popular Special Evening talks covering exciting topics : The unbelievable pursuit of the unimaginable (the Higgs Boson detection at CERN), Rose petals & lotus leaves: nano technology lessons from nature, Intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe, Physics of diamonds & gem stones, Nirbhaya – self defence tool and fun with Science  are some of the talks which attracted a large audience. These talks were open to all colleges – lecturers and students – in Navi Mumbai and Mumbai.
    There were four discussion sessions held during the course – How to foster experimental abilities and skills in students, A symbiotic relation between Science & Technology, Role of ethics in teaching & research and How to motivate students for a career in research. These discussion sessions were moderated by expert scientists who brought lively discussion among participants and summarised the points in the end. An abstracts book consisting of abstracts of both session talks and evening talks has been brought out for distribution to all participants, which is being enclosed.

    This Refresher course was novel, as it contained lectures as well as experimental sessions. There were eight experiments (chosen from Prof. Srinivasan Kit, set up with the help of Prof.R.  Nagarajan and his team from CBS and Mumbai University) which were set up and conducted at IWSA premises, with a total of 16 hours of practical sessions. These experiments were extremely popular, as they exposed the participants to inexpensive techniques to teach basic experiments in a simple way to the students. Simple automation techniques for some of the experiments were also taught.
    The participants were taken inside BARC for two days, i.e., on 30th and 31st December.  On the first half-day they visited the Super computer facility, Folded Tandem Ion Accelerator (FOTIA) at Nuclear Physics Division and the Intense Laser facility at High Pressure Physics and Synchrotron Physics Division.
    This was followed by three state of the art experiments at BARC using Neutron diffraction, X-ray diffraction and Fourier Transform based I.R. spectroscopy experiments. The titles of the experiments are included in Annexure-5. The details of the experiments conducted are included in the Abstract Book.
    The participants had an opportunity to see the work inside the DHRUVA Reactor, BARC, which was specially arranged by taking special entry permits. This visit to BARC has given a new dimension to the outlook of the participants. They received a huge motivation from the scientists involved in their experiments. They have been advised how to start a research project on a small scale and apply for research grants to Board of Reasearch in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS), which supports such projects from Universities.

    The participants visited TIFR on 1st January, 2015. Here they visited the Pelletron Facility, Intense Laser facility, the Low temperature laboratory, which were appreciated by all participants.

    The Valedictory function of the Refresher course was held at IWSA on 2nd January. Prof.Vijay Singh of HBCSE was the chief guest and spoke on ‘Scaling of objects in Nature’. Prof.Deepak Dhar from TIFR presented the various science programs supported by the joint education panel of the Academies. The certificates and books were distributed to the participants by the chief guest and Prof.Dhar.

  • Prepared by Prof. L. Dhareshwar and Dr. D. Ramanathan


Refresher Course 2013

IWSA has been in the field of promoting scientific temper and promoting excellence in science among students and teachers for the last forty years.

From 2013, IWSA started partenering with Indian Secience Academies; it organized Science Academies’ Refresher Course on 'Advances in Plant and Animal Biotechnology' in collaboration with Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil College, Vashi, Navi Mumbai. The Course was held from February 3 – 16, 2013 and was  spread over a few institutions in Mumbai viz. IWSA, Vashi; ACTREC, Kharghar; Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil College, Vashi; Padmashree Dr. D.Y. Patil University, Belapur; NIRRH, Parel and Sophia College for women, Mumbai.

Biotechnology is one of the most rapidly changing scientific fields and the innovations in the field need to be integrated in the teaching–learning processes. The course titled “Advances in Plant and Animal Biotechnology” was planned to impart latest information in plant and animal biotechnology to the post graduate teachers from all over the country and also for the participants to have hands on experience on the latest techniques in biotechnology.

Organizing and advisory committees with different subcommittees were formed for this purpose (Annexure A). The advertisement was placed in the November issue of Current Science. Thirty post graduate teachers from all over India had applied. After screening, 22 participants (18 outstation and 4 local participants) were selected and intimated by 20th December 2012. All of them confirmed their participation in the Refresher Course. Since majority of outstation participants were men, accommodation was booked at ACTREC guest house at Kharghar. Due to last minute cancellations of 8 outstation participants, another 7 local participants were included in the list. Hence there were 21 participants (10 from outside and 11 from Mumbai/Navi Mumbai (Annexure-B).

The inauguration of the conference was organized on Sunday 3rd February morning and was inaugurated by Dr C R Bhatia, former Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, who spoke on the latest achievements in Biotechnology. Dr Susan Eapen, Co-ordinator of the course welcomed the guests and participants. Dr V. S. Shivankar, Principal , KB Patil College spoke about the need for such Refresher Course to update the knowledge of teachers, Dr. Tarala Nandedkar, Director of the course, spoke about the course and Dr. Anjali Bhagwat, Secretary proposed the vote of thanks.  The program was attended by 70 invited guests and speakers, besides the 21 participants.

The program had 6 modules viz. Biotechnology and its applications, Plant Biotechnology, Animal Biotechnology, Development of vectors, Cancer immunotherapy, Transgenic animals, Gene therapy and biotechnology techniques, Advanced techniques in animal biotechnology, Advances in plant biotechnology, Animal cell culture Proteomics and bioinformatics, Biosafety, Ethics and project writing.

The various speakers included Dr. K. B. Sainis, Director, BMG, BARC; Dr. R. Tuli, Director, NABI, Mohali; Dr. Rajani Bhisey, FIASc; Dr. S. K. Apte, Asso. Director, BMG, BARC; Dr. JayashreeSainis, RRF, BARC, Dr. S. F. D’Souza, Asso. Direcor, BARC; Dr. Sulabha Pathak, TIFR, Dr. Paramjit Khurana, Univ of Delhi, Dr. Shelly Bhattacharya, Shanti Niketan; Dr. Robin Mukhopadhyaya, ACTREC; Dr. Sorab Dalal, ACTREC, Dr. SanjeevWagmare. ACTREC; Dr. Shubhada Chiplunkar, ACTREC; Dr. Rita Mulherkar, ACTREC; Dr. Medh Rajadhyakha, Sophia college, Dr. Shubra Chakraborty, Inst of Plant Genomics, Delhi, Dr. K. P. Gopinathan, Bangalore and Dr. Suresh K. Mahajan, ex-head, Molecular biology division, BARC. The list of speakers and topics are shown in Annexure-C. The topics in plant biotechnology included development of designer plants, cultivation of genetically modified crops, vectors for gene manipulation, microsatellite markers, advances in plant tissue culture, transgenics with better nutrition, proteomics and functional genomics, advent of genomics for crop improvement etc. The topics on animal biotechnology included, generation of transgenic animals, cancer immunotherapy, biotechnology of silkworm, ENCORE project, synthetic life, development of vectors, etc.

The practical sessions included culture of animal and plant cells, cryopreservation of animal cells, reviving of cell lines, determination of viability, passaging, construction of vectors, RT PCR, SSR PCR, Reporter gene assays Southern blot, Western blot, confirmation of transgenics  by different molecular techniques  etc.
Experiments with chick embryo, C.elegans, Drosophila and Zebra fish were also done by the participants. The demonstrations included in vivo Animal imaging, Animal PET, TEM, Confocal microscopy, DNA sequencing, Flow cytometry, Real time PCR, etc.

There was also a session on Scientific writing and Ethics in Science and Technology. There was a special session on project writing and some of the participants prepared and presented project proposals.

On the last day –Saturday 16th February- there was  a Panel Discussion on “Women teaching and leading Sciences.” Eminent scientists like Dr. Mythily Ramaswamy, Dr. Shobhana Narasimhan and Dr.  Ranjini Bandopadyaya from Bangalore, Dr. Kamal Hazari (NIRRH), Dr. Anjali Kulkarni (BARC), Dr. Rinti Banerjee (IIT-B) and Dr. Sheela Donde (IISER, Pune) were the panelists and Dr. SurekhaZingde, Dy. Director, ACTREC, Kharghar was the moderator.

The Valedictory function followed the panel discussion and the chief guest was Dr. T. Mukherjee, Former Director, Chemistry Group, BARC. A visit was arranged to BRIT, Vashi, where the participants got acquainted with radiation processing of spices and production of radioisotopes for diagnosis and treatment of health disorders. The participants also were taken for Mumbai Darshan (Gateway of India, Hanging garden, Kamla Nehru Park, Marine lines, NarimanPoint ) and also for Kala Khoda festival on 9thMarch.

 The course was well appreciated by all the participants, speakers and guest participants and will go a long way in enhancing the teaching capabilities of biotechnology post graduate teachers.

IWSA appreciates the support extended by Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi and The National Academy of Sciences, India, Allahabad. We thank all the speakers and committee members for their support.


Dr. Susan Eapen
Course Coordinator                                     

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