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"NIG-IISER Collaboration"2010

To promote scientific interactions and exchanges world wide, NIG has been sponsoring collaboration projects and international symposia. This year Senthilkumar Deivasigamani, a graduate student from IISER Pune, carried out collaborative projects in two labs: the Ueda Lab (Invertebrate Genetics Laboratory) and the Shimizu Lab (Division of Developmental Genetics)

Flies, Hydra and Hiragana - Three months at NIG (Senthilkumar Deivasigamani, Ratnaparkhi Lab., IISER Pune, India)

In history classes, I learnt about the rise of Japan as one of the economic powerhouses of the World. With beginnings in the Meiji Era, Japan became a leader in science and technology. I have always found the history of this rise fascinating. India and Japan are both older civilizations with distinct cultures. I was also curious about the cultural difference and interactions between India and Japan, and wanted to experience the Japanese way of life. I am glad and thankful that the NIG-IISER collaborative program gave me an opportunity to enjoy the cultural richness of the Japanese civilization and learn about the way science is done in Japan. My parent institute, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) is based in Pune, which is a fast growing metro near the port city of Mumbai (earlier called Bombay).

As I left India for Japan, I was a bit worried about the visit, especially the food (I am vegetarian) and language related issues. However, when in Japan, I never had to worry about these things, thanks to the members of my host labs and people of Mishima. The only trouble I faced (outside NIG) was communication, because of my inability to speak Japanese, but that too was fun to experience.

My visit to Showa Emperor's collection of specimens at Tsukuba told me how much importance and priority science has been given at the highest level. The huge collection of specimens served as a proof that practicing science is valued and encouraged. My visit to the NIG, which has proved itself as a leader in field of modern genetics and which also provides various services to scientific communities around the world, was a memorable experience. I worked in both the laboratories of Prof. Ueda, where I did a reverse genetics screen and also Dr. Shimizu, where I learnt Hydra techniques. Both the faculty members were extremely helpful and I managed to meet most of the goals I had set myself before I left India.

In NIG, I got access to all resources of the host laboratories. I could complete a pilot RNAi based modifier screen in Drosophila while working with Prof. Ueda. Dr Shimizu helped me to learn and appreciate Hydra as a model system and introduced me to behavioral biology. NIG also arranged a visit the DGRC symposium at Kyoto, where I could listen to researchers and interact with students from several other institutes.

 I would like to thank Dr. Shimizu and Prof. Ueda, and all the members of my host labs for their hospitality, help and support. I would like to thank Prof. Hiromi for his support for the program and for coordinating the visit. I am also grateful to Ms. Yasuike and her administrative team for arranging and managing this trip. My sincere thanks are to the NIG and IISER, especially Prof. Shashidhara for giving me this opportunity and for NIG for financial support. My memorable thanks are to Dr. Shimizu, who arranged and accompanied me on regular outings. Ms. Miyauchi taught me Japanese, and I enjoyed learning "Hiragana", one of the three sets of characters that is used in the Japanese language. The visit being in my early days of my graduate program has provided me with ideas that I can test and pursue over the next few years. I am happy that this visit has opened up new opportunities and collaborations between my Lab (Ratnaparkhi Lab @IISER) and NIG, which are being actively pursued.