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IIT-Madras goes virtual to lure int’l research scholars

Alexander Daniel Corral Ward, a research scholar from the University of New South Wales in Australia has been pursuing research work at IIT-Madras for past two months, albeit virtually. He is part of the institute’s key programme to attract international students for research internships, which has been made completely online to overcome travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 situation.

The Global Research Internship in Engineering, Science, Humanities and Management (GRIESHMA) was launched in 2019 by the office of global engagement, IIT-Madras, to attract research scholars from abroad, offering them six to eight weeks of paid internship on campus. Converted now to ‘e-GRIESHMA,’ this research internship programme is being offered completely online.

Sharing his experience Ward said: “We (me and the faculty) have been meeting virtually on a weekly basis and the work has involved a lot of reading and research as well as some technical tasks. I have learnt a lot about different types of deep learning models and their applications in a computational biology context. So far the project is really interesting and I think I will learn a lot.”

Ward is working with professor Nirav Bhatt, department of biotechnology, IIT-Madras, on a research project in Computational Biology. Bhatt said: “e-GRIESHMA is a good programme to interact with international undergraduate students. Ward and I had interacted through google meet platform every 8-10 days to discuss a project in the area of AI for prediction of biological properties.”

According to IIT-Madras, the programme has generated a lot of interest among research students from countries as diverse as Australia and Nepal. The programme can extend up to 12 weeks and students are awarded a certificate on completion.

Four research scholars from Australia and Nepal have already been accepted into the programme for the July-November 2020 Semester. The institute is planning to attract around 20 international scholars for the e-GRIESHMA programme by July 2021. Highlighting the internationalisation initiatives of IIT-Madras, Prof Raghunathan Rengaswamy, dean (global engagement), said: “The office of global engagement is committed to internationalisation efforts through a variety of initiatives targeted at different academic stakeholders.”