Anveshana Research Themes
Research projects under Anveshana will be pursued under these 5 major themes: Green Chemistry and Technologies, Advanced and Functional Materials, Ecology and Environment, Wellness, and Food and Agriculture.
Green Chemistry and Technologies
Green chemistry provides a framework for the design of safer alternates to existing products, processes and materials. A set of 12 principles are used to address this.
The projects in this theme considers the life cycle assessment of chemicals, ill effects of utilization of hazardous chemicals and a general understanding on the alternate use of renewables. While the basic research helps stretching the boundaries of knowledge, applied research in the identification of safer alternates helps in the creation of newer processes and products.
Typically, the projects under this section involve utilizing renewable raw materials as alternates to synthetic chemicals to generate products with desired properties. Utilization of by-products of an industry will be considered as a feedstock for the value- added product creation. Process intensification, continuous process as against batch reactions significantly reduce waste formation. Identification of processes that considers prevention of temporary derivatization steps (protecting groups) during synthesis will also enable efficient processes.
Overall, projects in this thematic area will explore the negative impact of hazardous chemical utilization, waste generation during a chemical process, will get a holistic view of alternates for the hazardous chemicals and an impression on carbon economy. Systematic journey towards either a carbon neutral or carbon positive processes will be encouraged.
Advanced & Functional Materials
Advanced and functional materials are those materials that possess particular native and functional properties, be it magnetism, ferroelectricity, piezoelectricity, energy storage functions. These materials (sometimes nanoparticles and clusters) have applications in a vast array of fields such as catalysis, sensors, nanobiotechnology - drug discovery and delivery, and composite polymers.
Projects in this theme will pertain to the synthesis of nanomaterials and study their varied sizes, shapes, structures, morphologies that show different optical, magnetic, electrical and mechanical properties. These nanomaterials are used for (i) the development of thin film devices - solar cells, piezoelectric generators, sensors, transistors, LEDs, supercapacitors, batteries and, (ii) composite materials for strengthening biopolymers having diverse applications such as biomedical, food packaging, water purification etc. Applied research in this direction is often cutting edge in nature, and could potentially contribute toward breakthroughs in utilizing the functional properties of these materials. Research projects will also involve characterisation techniques such as Spectral characterization (UV-Visible, FT-IR, NMR, X- ray diffraction), Porosity (BET), TGA, DSC, High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), photoluminescence, electrochemical characterisation.
Ecology and Environment
Environment Science is a broad study of many elements on earth, and is focused on the interactions between physical, chemical and biological components, including ecology. Ecosystem is the study of the inter-relationships between abiotic and biotic components in a particular geographical area.
The agenda for Sustainable Development - to overcome the existing and future environmental challenges - was declared by the United Nations in 2015. Deliberations on environmental and ecological issues emphasise on understanding the processes of ecosystem concepts such as the food web, climate change, biodiversity, the cycle of matter, pollution, ethnoecology, and wildlife management etc.
The projects designed under this theme help to build awareness about ecosystems available in one’s surroundings, analyze the actions of abiotic and biotic elements, and understand the importance of preserving ecosystems for a sustainable future. Research areas are designed to investigate the components and their interdependencies while being part of the ecosystems. The expected outcomes of these projects are to improve thinking skills in ecosystems organization & behavior, and predict the long-term effect on current environmental influences. The Prayoga Research team will engage with experts in this area for carbon sequestration and related technologies, in India and across the globe, to solve local and global challenges.
The Healthcare sector has grown exponentially since the last century. New and open innovations have allowed medical & pharmaceutical research to expand in drug discovery programs, which can be seen quantitatively in terms of a huge number of publications. However, they remain largely unexplored in terms of deployment.
Research projects in this thematic area will touch upon all aspects of life sciences. Researchers in this domain are considering use of natural products (NPs) in drug discovery especially for cancer and infectious diseases. In the past few decades, pharmaceutical industries have shown a declined interest towards NPs due to non- availability of scientifically validated protocols. However, NPs pose an advantage over synthetic drugs, as the former are derived from natural sources like plants (traditionally), soil, or marine (a recent approach). The researchers at Prayoga strongly believe that significant contribution can emerge with concerted efforts of traditional knowledge combined with scientific validation. This will pave the way for improved utilization of NPs for the healthcare system.
The projects in this theme help develop an understanding of different sources of NPs. With the efficacy of the molecule, derivatization will also be adopted to enhance the bio- efficacy, potentially leading to drug discovery. NPs will be evaluated for a wide range of biological activities, including anti-cancer, anti-microbial, anti-obesity, and anti-diabetic. This process involves extraction, isolation and characterization of NPs, animal cell culture, plant tissue culture and culturing microorganisms. It also includes exploration of various techniques of cell biology, molecular biology and certain in silico evaluation.
Food and Agriculture
Food science is a dynamic combination of agricultural science, nutrition, and food safety and processing technology. Access to affordable and quality food is one of the key challenges of our time - to feed a growing global population in a way that is both inexpensive and sustainable. Agricultural practises are responsible for many of the world's major environmental issues today. It is estimated that food production is expected to expand by 50% in the next 20 years to cater for an increased global population and changing habits of food consumption. This has serious effects not only on the environment, but also on the social sustainability of the food price inflation that results. So, research in the area of agriculture and food science is in a unique position to contribute constructively to address these issues.
This theme has a special interest in the interdisciplinary studies at the agriculture/food interface. All aspects of food and agriculture will be considered. Projects under this theme will explore the effects of environmental change on plant growth, studying plant diseases and investigating the interrelationships of nutrition and human health.
Areas of research under this theme include, but are not limited to: Studies on plant diseases, protection and their impact on food quality. Research related to sensory and stability factors will be taken up in association with external institutes. Evaluation and management of risks in foods including chemical, microbiological, and molecular biology issues will be the prime focus. Nutraceuticals that include probiotics and prebiotics will be researched. Factors influencing impact of agricultural practices on the environment through altered or novel farming methods, and impacts & adaptation to climate change is another area of study.