2 selected for Indira Gandhi Scholarship at Oxford

The annual Indira Gandhi Scholarship at the University of Oxford has been awarded to two Indians – Apoorva Kulkarni and Divya Choudhary – an India-focussed centre based in the university’s Somerville College said on Monday.

Kulkarni and Choudhary will pursue doctoral study (DPhil) in zoology and biochemistry respectively while being based at the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD). The centre awards the Indira Gandhi Scholarships towards research on sustainable development challenges faced by the Indian sub-continent.

Candidates are selected based on their academic merit and alignment of their work with the centre’s impact themes such as climate change, energy, cities, healthcare, environmental sustainability and food and water security, OICSD said.

Kulkarni will study the inclusion of traditional ecological knowledge alongside scientific ecological knowledge for conserving endemic and threatened bird species in the tropical forests of central Western Ghats, aiming to contribute towards mainstreaming indigenous communities and livelihoods in biodiversity conservation.

Kulkarni, whose earlier projects included community-based species conservation, animal movement ecology and bioacoustics studies, said: “The scholarship has helped my envisioned research come to reality by reducing my burden of funding for the next three years of my doctoral study and by lending me the opportunity to focus on making a positive impact on the conservation paradigm in India.”

Choudhary, who recently graduated from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, majoring in Chemical Engineering, will focus on understanding the evolution of bacteria under antibiotic stress, addressing the challenge of increasing antibiotic resistance in micro-organisms across the world.

“Being a part of the OICSD community will provide me a platform to understand the interdisciplinary links between scientific research advancements and better healthcare, thus touching people’s lives,” she said.

The centre was established by Somerville College in 2013 with a £3 million grant from India (and a matching grant from Oxford). Indira Gandhi, an alumna of the college, studied Modern History there in 1937.

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