Nanomaterials are materials with at least one dimension in nanometers that is one-billionth of meters. – Dr. Sudarshan Kini

Dr. Sudarshan Kini
Scientist Grade II, Nitte University Centre for Science Education & Research
Nitte (Deemed to be University), Mangaluru, India

Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey?

My educational journey was joyful since childhood because being born in the 90’s era did not face competitions. In school, my teachers stressed moral values rather than becoming geniuses, which had a significant impact on the learning process. It was my parent’s sacrifice, which allowed us (three brothers) to excel in education even when our family income was less than the middle-class economy. Understanding the value of savings and managing the economic crisis was itself a great lesson taught by parents. Until the 10th standard, my schooling went on through the Kannada language medium. Nevertheless, it allowed me to learn. I was interested in taking up Science in college. Therefore, I opted for Science as a part of pre-university education. For the first time in college, I realized the competition that made me dull and had to go through severe emotional issues. I could not afford coaching to pass the common entrance test for engineering or medical, as most of my classmates went during summer vacations. In a class of hundred or more students, lecturers focused only on bright students, which is, unfortunately, the current scenario too. My grades dropped too low that at one point, there was a doubt if I will pass or not. I wanted to pursue engineering, which was my parents’ wish too. However, none of the banks was ready to provide education loans to the kid who secured just first class.

Later, I joined B. Sc Biotechnology at Alva’s college affiliated to Mangalore University. That was the turning phase of my life. Here I found my best and beloved teachers who nurtured my necessary skills of Science. Their motivation helped me to score distinction in B. Sc but also ignited the fire of research. Adding to it, my passions to do my M. Sc in Biochemistry at Dr. G R D College Coimbatore was supported by bank loan availed only due to my distinction in B.Sc. Graduation study. Last semester of my masters earned me a reputed award after attempting the National level entrance exam for Ph.D through GATE and secured all India rank 226 (98.27 percentiles) in 2008.

The second wave of the challenge began when I completed masters. Although I wanted to go for research, economic instability with increasing loan interest forced me to go for a job hunt the next day after my post-graduation. However, I met with nothing but disappointment as in those days, the biotech industry was setting up its base in Bangalore. Therefore, without recommendation, none would provide even an entry-level job. That is how I decided to apply reputed top IIT institutions for a Ph.D. It was not easy for me to face interviews for the first time. Using my savings from the bank loan, I went to IIT Guwahati, IIT Kanpur, IIT Bombay and then to IISc Bangalore for an interview. Everywhere I failed an interview due to my lack of experience. However, a surprising event led to a new opportunity to attend an interview at the Centre for Research in Nanotechnology and Science, IIT Bombay in which I performed unreservedly by answering to the point. My determination paid and the joy of being selected for Ph.D. could not be explained.

Here I began my research in the novel field of Nanomaterials for anticancer applications, which again was not easy. There was always a doubt whether it was my luck or the hard work that paved me into IIT. I think it was my attitude and determination pursue in any situations helped me. Once you become IITian, whole life, you will think like IITian. Therefore, the mindset separates IITian from non-IITian. Let me say opportunities are like a circle. If you are standing on the circumference of a circle, you may visualize in two ways. If you see inside the circle, it’s closed and if you turn around to see outside, it’s infinite. Overall, IIT life was the best after my childhood because it not only helped to gain knowledge and confidence in research work but also showed me how to live. Therefore, I call myself a proud IITian.

The Postdoctoral experience in private teaching institute had several undesirable consequences. It seemed like insecure people always pull your leg and prevent you from moving forward. The name professional has lost its value due to a lack of communication between the people working at higher and lower orders. In the competition to grow tall and acquire petite things, people lose their path and passion for research.

My will to conduct quality research, which is beneficial for the scientific community, pulled me out of negativity and eventually, I landed in a new institute under Nitte (Deemed to be University) where I am currently working as a Scientist. NUCSER is a relatively new institute engaged in teaching and research with like-minded people who are driven to make a difference in society with the development of Science.

Q2. What did attract you towards Research in Nanomaterials for Biomedical applications?

The foundation built during my Ph.D. at IIT Bombay attracted me to research Nanomaterials. Independent work carried out in Postdoctoral research unraveled new opportunities to perform quality work. Engaging in the research has always been joyful.

Q3. You are expert in Nanomaterials. Please share some brief about it and it’s uses?

Nanomaterials are materials with at least one dimension in nanometers that is one-billionth of meters. A simple natural example would be the DNA or human genome, which in length can be extended to a few meters, but its width is limited to nanometers. A conceptual idea of Nanotechnology was provided by the Scientist Richard Feynman who quoted, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”. This message implies that in nano-dimension, the availability of plenty of surfaces for physical and chemical interaction increases. There are mainly two approaches to prepare it. Firstly, crushing the bulk or large materials into pieces until it attains nano size and another method is constructing the cluster of atoms in nanometer sizes using chemical reactions. Thus prepared nanomaterials are characterized for morphological properties using instruments such as electron microscope. The nanomaterials made from metals, semiconductors, polymers etc. have a wide variety of applications, which include skin moisturizers that reflect sunlight, Quantum LED television, pharmaceutical drug coatings, MRI image contrasting agents, memory storage and solar devices, biosensor strips for health monitoring and so on. My expertise is limited to biomedical applications like nanoformulations for anticancer applications, nanoparticles for sensing the bacteria, heavy metal ions and various biomolecules.

Q4. Where do you want to see yourself after 10 years in Research Division?

I have not thought about it. I prefer to move from moment to moment, which is more joyful than thinking about what happens later. However, broadly saying, I would like to improve my quality of research in the field of health science to cultivate awareness about Science in society. Professionally, I would like to be a Professor and guide students to support their careers.

Q5. Which one thing do you like most about yourself?

I think I am compassionate enough to help people unconditionally. Unknowingly, I have an innocent attitude. Therefore, My judgment and reactions do not carry over to the next moment.  

Q6. What was your Thesis topic in Ph.D.? Please share some brief about it?

My Ph.D. thesis title was Polymeric nanoformulations of microtubule targeting agents for cancer chemotherapy. I worked in an interdisciplinary project under the guidance of Prof. Dulal Panda and Prof. Dhirendra Bahadur, IIT Bombay. I prepared polymeric nanoformulation to encapsulate chemotherapeutic drugs used in cancer treatment. I have performed their anticancer efficacy against cancer cells cultured in the laboratory. Further, I also elucidated the mechanism of action of nanoformulations in cancer cells using cell biology techniques.

Dr. Sudarshan Kini

Q7. Which one thing do you want to change in yourself and why?

In my opinion, the change will proceed itself through self-knowledge and understanding of relationships with nature. Therefore, the effort should involve in performing the action, not to change or resist it.

Q8. What do you do in your free time? Do you update yourself in terms of education?

Since childhood, in my leisure time, I have been involved in various sports activities and loved to hear music and sing songs. At IIT, I actively participated in table tennis championships, cricket, and even some cultural programs. After joining the profession, my sports activities have subsided due to various reasons. So now I spend a pleasant time with my family. In terms of education, I update myself by reading scientific articles and attending webinars.

Q9. What kind of problems have you faced in Research Domain and how did you remove it?

The major problem research faculties are facing is not able to focus intensely on research activities due to additional academic duties. Therefore, it delays the quality. These issues can be solved only by communication between higher management authority and researchers. Further, regular discussions, collaborations, analysis, and feedback on research techniques would improve the quality of research.

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