Policy Roundtables at ISF 2023

Venue: HPS Library (The Synapse)

Participation by Invite only.
Recommendations generated from these discussions will be shared widely.

21 January (Saturday) | 9.30 AM  11 AM

Measuring excellence and impact in scientific research in India

Moderator: Ayesha Chaudhary, Advisor, Stanford Biodesign India program
Discussants: Hemang Jani (Capacity Building Commission), K Vijay Raghavan (NCBS), Amrita Sadarangini (University of Edinburgh), Chris Karp (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Vidita Vaidya (TIFR Bombay), Gautam Menon (Ashoka University), Smita Jain (Cactus Communications)

Premise: Historically, scientific success has been measured through financial inputs such as investments made in science and technology. Now, we mostly measure outcomes through the indicators of publications, patents, non-government funding raised, research collaborations, and so on. Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in mission-driven research via the PM-STIAC missions and other recently launched missions to achieve net zero. Policy-makers need to demonstrate a return on investment in research to the taxpayer. But scientists do science for their love of the unknown. And all unknowns don’t lead to a discovery. So, how do funders, policymakers, and scientists assess these unknown outcomes? How does India resolve this tension and find the right balance? Does excellence or impact ultimately come down to narratives, and subjective opinions, eventually moving away from simplified metrics?

21 January (Saturday) , 11.30 AM – 1 PM

Nurturing Early Career Researcher Talent pool: Unlocking Possibilities 

Moderated by: Rajendra Tripathi | Head Education Programmes – India, British Council Division | British, Deputy High Commission 

Organised by the British Council & Royal Society of Chemistry

Discussants: Nitin Shukla (Principal Scientist IPR, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune), Rachel Mason (Associate Director, Science Made Simple Ltd, UK), Iain Stewart MBE (Department of Geoscience Communication, University of Plymouth, UK), Ashwini Nangia (Senior Professor School of Chemistry, University of Hyderabad), Rakeshwar Bandichhor (Head, Chemistry-API-Process, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratory, Hyderabad), Siva Umapathy (Director, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhopal)

This roundtable brings together eminent experts to share perspectives, approaches and best practices to nurture and develop the talent pool of Early Career Researchers (ECR) with necessary skills and competencies and make them future ready for research collaborations globally thereby addressing global concerns and breaking new pathways.

21 January (Saturday) | 1.30 PM – 3 PM

Are scientists in India leveraging their good health to enhance their productivity and outcomes?

Moderator: Ayesha Chaudhary, Advisor, Stanford Biodesign India program
Discussants: Srinath Reddy (Public Health Foundation of India), Vikram Patel (Professor, Sangath/Harvard University), Harish Iyer (Deputy Director, Digital & Health Innovation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Gagandeep Kang (Faculty, CMC Vellore), Udayan Ganguly (Faculty, IIT Bombay) 

Premise: Good health is empowering; it allows individuals to perform well in different facets of life and excel at work. A recent WHO study shows a direct correlation between mental health and a nation’s economic productivity. But there is very little policy output that addresses how to use good health towards optimizing one’s productivity, and what will be the context in India’s scientific research community? Can we empower scientists to increase their productivity by using good health as a lever? Is being healthily limited to physical activity and mental well-being? What role do social relationships and meaningful engagement at the workplace play in scientists’ well-being? How can health-related touchpoints help a scientist become a leader in the institute?

21 January (Friday) | 4 PM  – 5.30 PM

Challenges and Opportunities in STEM Education in India

Moderator: Darshana Joshi, Co-founder & CEO, VigyanShaala International
Discussants: Chintan Vaishnav (Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission), KG Kumar (Director, BM Birla Science Centre, Hyderabad), Pavani Ayinampudi (OSD Academics at TSWREIS I Kalinga Fellow), Ashwini Nagaraju (OSD TTWREIS; former PGT Chemistry, Navodaya Vidyalaya), Neeta Bisht (Senior School Coordinator & Biology HoD, The Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet), Sahithya Anumolu (Co-founder of Inqui-Lab Foundation)

This roundtable discussion will bring together diverse stakeholders from the private and public sectors to discuss the current challenges and opportunities in India’s school STEM education system. How can we encourage more students to pursue STEM careers? What currently discourages students from pursuing STEM careers? How can we increase diversity in STEM (gender, socioeconomic, geographic, and so on)? How can informal science education inform and influence formal education system reforms? How will technology affect STEM learning and education in the future, and how can we better support teachers in adapting to changing pedagogies and technologies? These and other pressing questions facing the STEM education ecosystem will be discussed at this roundtable.

22 January (Sunday) | 3.00 PM – 4.30 PM

Creating healthy leadership experiences for women leaders in S&T

Moderator: Ayesha Chaudhary, Advisor, Stanford Biodesign India program
Discussants: Shagun Sabarwal (South Asia Region and Global Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning DirectorWomenLift Health), Shanta Thoutam (Chief Innovation Officer, Telangana State Innovation Cell), Sushmita Jha (Faculty, IIT Jodhpur), Vinay Nandicoori (Director, CSIR-CCMB), K VijayRaghavan (Emeritus Professor, NCBS, Bangalore), Jaya Baloo (Former Chief Information Security Officer, Avast)

Premise: Increasingly, India is seeing a sharp increase in women leaders and the overall empowerment of women. But women still continue to face unique challenges in their leadership journeys, including economic, cultural, social and gender-related barriers. Some women overcome these challenges to emerge as leaders in the S&T sector. What are the commonalities among these women science leaders? Can we leverage research and policy to transform the narrative of women’s leadership in S&T in India? What will it take for India to initiate a global dialogue and set an example in women’s leadership in S&T? Can leadership experiences for mid-career scientists empower women to overcome intrinsic and extrinsic barriers and emerge as science leaders? 

22 January (Sunday) | 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Creating a tool-guide to participatory science in India

Moderator: Somdatta Karak (Science Communicator, CCMB, Hyderabad), Prof. Usha Raman (University of Hyderabad)
Discussants: Jahnavi Phalkey (Director, Science Gallery Bengaluru), Padma Priya (Co-founder, Suno India), Sreekumar N  (Member – Prayas (Energy Group), Anant Maringanti (Executive Director, Hyderabad Urban Labs), Tejah Balantrapu (Associate Director – Science, Health Data and Storytelling, LVPEI, Hyderabad)

Premise: Participatory science aims at involving members of the public in different facets of science –designing research questions, collecting and documenting data, and utilizing the knowledge generated or technology developed for their own benefit and betterment. India is positioned uniquely where it has to balance itself between fundamental sciences that might be too abstract for immediate public appreciation and technological development needed for many diverse social and ecological challenges that face the country. How can India’s scientific system incorporate public opinion in shaping these? How can interested members of the public engage with issues of policy and its implementation? What areas of science could benefit more from public engagement? What tools can citizen science groups use to better influence policy discourse? This panel brings together a diverse group of speakers to discuss some of the science initiatives that have incorporated the public’s contribution in one or more ways, as well as citizen science efforts that have made an impact on the broader discourse on science and technology.