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Presi chair prof for sciences

Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, a “distinguished professor” at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and former director of the institute, has been selected as Acharya Jagadis Chandra Bose Distinguished University Professor in Natural Sciences at Presidency University.

“We have selected Sabyasachi Bhattacharya for the post. The eminent physicist has agreed in-principle to join our university,” vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar told Metro, after a three-member search committee comprising a nominee each of the chancellor, university and the government made its choice.

Bhattacharya’s is the second name announced for a distinguished university professor post at Presidency. The name of Amitabha Dasgupta, dean of social science and humanities at the University of Hyderabad, was announced last month for the post of Swami Vivekananda Distinguished University Professor in philosophy.

one of the five posts created by the chief minister Mamata Banerjee to help Presidency emerge as a centre of excellence.

Bhattacharya, who had graduated from the erstwhile Presidency College with physics honours in 1970 will return as the teacher to his alma mater following the selection.

A member of the Presidency mentor group who had topped the West Bengal higher secondary examinations in 1967, Bhattacharya’s selection has elated many teachers in the university.

“The posts of distinguished professors have been created to provide academic leadership across disciplines. The selection of a person of Bhattacharya’s calibre will help us gain immensely in the field of natural sciences,” said Somak Raychaudhury, the dean of science and head of the physics department at the university.

Raychaudhury explained how crucial the selection of Bhattacharya as the distinguished professor was.

According to him, at a time when they are planning to make research in “soft condensed matter” as their area of strength, engagement of the internationally acclaimed condensed matter physics would be a “great boost”.

“He is a stalwart in the field. So Bhattacharya’s guidance would be of immense value in building our strength in the high-end research. His administrative capability as the director of TIFR would also come in handy as he knows how to offer the leadership,” added Chowdhury.

Bhattacharya has been attached with some of the front ranking institutes of the country, like the IIT Bombay and the Department of Atomic Energy.

Since 2006 he continues to be a member of the Editorial board, Reports on Progress in Physics, Institute of Physics (UK).

A teacher said, Bhattacharya is one of those physicists whose research is widely recognised in the industry and has seven US patents under his belt.

“He brings research to the industry and gets the industry to fund the research. We all know how crucial it is for a fledgling university like us to forge industry-institute partnership,” said the teacher.

“We look forward to his counsel when we start developing the central instrumentation facility for physics at the Baker Building,” he added.

VC Sarkar said Bhattacharya’s areas of expertise spreads over physics, chemistry and biosciences.

“Over the last two and half years that he has been associated with Presidency, the former Visiting Fellow Commoner, Trinity College, University of Cambridge has advised us on course curriculum in physics, chemistry and biosciences. We have incorporated his suggestions,” said Sarkar.

“His research areas include science education and research policy and history of modern Indian Science and Technology and is a perfect choice to provide leadership across the disciplines,” she added.

The three remaining distinguished university professors posts are Rabindranath Tagore (literature and cultural studies), Subhas Chandra Bose (economics, political science and history) and Nazrul Islam (inter-cultural dialogue and peace studies). A search for the Bose chair last has already begun, said VC Sarkar.

Sugata Bose, the chairman of the mentor group had first proposed the appointment of distinguished chair professors for Presidency at a meeting with the chief minister in January 2012