The Research Diaries – Part 2 – A Talk with Prof. Suman Chakraborthy

Nature has inspired us to build a great many things that we couldn’t even have thought of otherwise. Birds gave us the idea of flight and streamlines , insects gave us the idea of ingenious defence mechanisms and the list goes on. We know that our brains are capable of wonders beyond our fathom. We are still in pursuit of an unknown number of needles of knowledge in this haystack of a world.

A research group at the Advanced Technology Development Center, IIT KGP has successfully utilized one of our natural designs to attain yet another remarkable milestone in this quest to break the known boundaries of science.

Peristalsis, a critical component in delivering food to the digesting units in our body , is defined as the constant wave-like contraction of the muscles in our digestive tract. This is the basis of their paper published in an established high-end journal.

Peristaltic Contraction

Peristaltic Contraction

“Our paper focuses on the analysis of fluid flow magnified by a combination of natural peristalsis and an electric field. This emulates the flow of fluid in the oesophagus and blood veins. It is generally observed that the case of restricted flow of vital fluids is a cause for many ailments. So, by using the mechanism of peristalsis, we have discovered to make the flow pump-less” , said Professor Suman Chakraborthy of the Mechanical Engineering Department, a key member of the team.
Under diseased conditions, especially in the cases of restricted flow of fluids , it is a well-known fact that it is impossible to fit an external pump to a human body to drive the fluids through the body. The team seeks to augment the fluid flow in such cases using one of our natural mechanisms along with electric chips to provide relief.

The combination of Peristalsis and Electric Field

The combination of Peristalsis and Electric Field

Prof.Suman also graciously agreed to spare a few words on the scope of research in this big money-churning world of today.

“I don’t mind students choosing any career provided that they choose it out of their own passion. I have friends who chose to do engineering solely due to their parents, relatives , society , peer pressure and the fact that they were among the brightest in their pre-college days. But they never had their mind in engineering. Later they pursued their dreams and did quite well in activities ranging from journalism to filmmaking. Research is not something to be done if it is not passion driven. I am involved in research and teaching because I love doing it. If you are solely driven by money, then that will eventually lead to frustration and then there’ll be no way to get back. You should ask yourself if you are happy with what you are doing, and if the answer is not positive , then it’ll be a hard road for you to get to the top. Whether you are rich or not, that doesn’t matter. Whether you are enjoying what you do or not, that is the question.”

On being asked about how a student passionate to pursue research should proceed further, he replied,

“There are few things that one has to keep in mind. First is creating a level of awareness. Second is that you need to get a feel of quality research. I believe that IIT’s are amongst the typical of good institutes that give exposure to that flavour even at the undergraduate level. You may not know how to swim in an ocean, but you should at least know what an ocean is. I feel like some of the activities in big events like Kshitij are of poor quality in the sense that they demonstrate versions of information copied from the net in the name of research. The awards the concerned parties get from these make a way into their CV. This is not correct.
The remedy is all but obvious. Everyone student knows who is involved in great research activities within the campus. I advise them to take an appointment with a professor and discuss it. Programs like GIAN, short courses , available video lectures should help in exposing you to what goes around in our institution, outside our institution and on the international level. The UG coursework is a very important part of this process. Without knowing grammar, we can’t go on to write essays.
The foundation of the basic coursework is necessary but so is talking it out with a professor.”

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