The best thing about research and academics is that it allows one to explore the unknown. That is exactly what drives Asis Datta, presently Professor of Eminence at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research.
For Datta, who has been awarded the Gujar Mal Modi Award for Innovative Science & Technology for his contribution in the field of metallurgy, the passion to engage in innovative research continues. “This desire, coupled with an urge to explore the rapidly expending world of science and technology has been a driving force behind my academic pursuits,” he says.
Elaborating on the emerging areas in plant genome research, Datta says that the goal is to achieve food security and sustainable agriculture. Recently-developed technologies of plant biotechnology and genomics offer opportunities to increase crop-productivity and improve the economic, health and social benefits.
As far as plant genome research is concerned, Datta adds, “Our society is now faced with growing demands for food and fuel in the face of global climate change. The other pressing challenges revolve around climate change, increased frequency and severity of droughts, flood, fluctuating temperature and rising sea level, to mention a few.”
The way ahead, feels Datta, is to integrate the best of conventional technology and biotechnology applications, including molecular breeding and incorporation of transgenic novel traits. In the agro-food area, biotechnology has the potential to develop improved food quality and environmental benefits through improved crops. Food and feed quality, he says, may be linked to disease prevention and reduced health risk.
Datta feels that India is moving fast and that this is the time when India can facilitate a conducive research ambience in Indian universities and institutes by appointing quality faculty, scientists and ensuring better infrastructure and improved research facilities.
As to a word of advice for future scientists, Datta emphasises the need to be innovative, hard working and passionate.