Of hair pins and road trips

 Five exhilarating accounts from TYT2021 to gear up for our next edition

Ever searched frantically for a hair pin and used your pen to tie it up instead? Well, you’ve just about tumbled onto the idea behind the rich and complex history of tool-use by the Nicobar long-tailed macaque – a research presentation by Jayashree Mazumder which won the second prize at our flagship event, Talk Your Thesis, last year. Turns out the Nicobar long-tailed macaques do with their tools exactly what we unconsciously do with our pens – use a common object for completely different purposes. 

Imagine planning a road trip from Bangalore to Delhi and being exasperated with the nitty gritties of planning your meals and stays along the way. Imagine then, stumbling onto the inspiration for your PhD research topic. This is exactly what Danish Contractor’s presentation at TYT2021 consisted of, and if this description itself blows your mind, head over to our YouTube page right now to actually see it in action! Danish worked on a Machine Learning system that optimises question and answer web search options by analyzing thousands of data points across already existing forums. It would surely make life much easier for planning your next trip. 

While Jayashree and Danish’s presentations are more than enough to draw your attention to TYT by ISF, Chhaminder and Trisha highlight the crown jewel of modern science, and indeed, the very reason why many get into science in the first place – its practical applications in real life. Who would’ve thought Plasmodium falciparum, the malarial parasite, would be such a pain-in-the-<retracted> about it’s protein synthesizing procedure? And who would’ve thought it’s own procedure could be used against it to create effective treatment for malaria? Definitely not us, until we watched Chamminder in action, that is!

Let’s face it, organic chemistry is….not love at first sight for many of us. And a talk titled Development of New Annulation Strategies for the synthesis of Aryl Iodides and 3-Methyleneisoindolin-1-ones would not be likely to catch your attention. But boy, oh boy did Trisha blow us away with her lively account of how a disappointing reaction result set in motion a series of events that led their research team to novel effective procedures for synthesis of new drugs. Serendipitous discoveries in science are marvels indeed, and this one was no less.

Science, as many of us know and perceive, does not exist in a vacuum. The scientific process and its results are very much integrated with our societies and to ignore that would be a fundamental fallacy in our duties as scientists. Arjun Kamdar’s presentation reiterated this very fact, as his thesis involved studying Human-Elephant conflict mitigation in the Sonitpur district of Assam, with a detailed analysis of the reasons behind the low maintenance and upkeep of the fences in use. 
With such keeping-you-at-the-edge-of-your-seat presentations last year, you can only imagine the thrill and excitement leading up to this year’s edition! Fear not, reader, for TYT2022 opens for submissions on September 1st. Hurry up and send in your entry, if you are a masters/Phd student and have already registered, or sit back and wait for the exciting presentations from the finalists to follow.

Written by Pokhee Saharia

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