Dublin Core




<p>Once you know you have an NCBS, how do you go about finding faculty and staff? How does a new place become an attractive option and what apprehensions do people have before joining? These early steps are crucial in the growth of the place. The chapters in this theme are about understanding Growth at different stages – the history of hiring, students joining an idea more than an institution, figuring out roles in the start-up phase and seeking early collaborations with outside networks.</p>
<p><br />At the start, an institution’s reputation comes partly from adventure and its people. There is a point in its lifetime, however, when it becomes a monolith that can pull in more people and resources. As the institute keeps scaling, partly driven by its success, the goals get redefined. Growth, then, is also about shifting goal posts and understanding the lifelong quest for institutes to stay relevant.</p>
<p><br />When he was doing his Masters at IIT Madras, it struck Jayant Udgaonkar that there was quite a bit of faculty inbreeding -- former students who had become faculty members. He felt it affected the quality of teaching at the institute, and it is something he saw over the years at other places. So, when he became the dean at NCBS, he decided to frame a policy that prevented students of the Centre from being faculty. It did not go down well in the beginning. Listen to Udgaonkar’s audio clip for more. <span>3-Hiring-A4</span></p>
<p><br />It’s a timeless quandary. Any institute, but especially a new one like NCBS was, depends on the people it hires to build it up. At some point in an institute’s life, structures, applications and interviews come into place. But where do those first and second round of hires come from? To state the obvious, networks matter perhaps as much as merit, especially in trying to figure out where to look. These networks are evident for all the founding members and the faculty hires soon after. Serendipity is good, too – listen to R Sowdhamini as she talks about the connection between her PhD defence at IISc in the late 1980s, and her hiring at NCBS in 1998. <span>3-Hiring-A5</span></p>
<p><br />One of the biggest cautionary factors for NCBS in its faculty hires has been to ensure getting those who are just plain good at what they do rather than finding someone to fill a spot in a ‘department’. The same was true for Obaid Siddiqi when he was hired at TIFR in 1962. The slideshow below shows the paper trail behind Obaid Siddiqi’s hiring, and some other hiring decisions in the decades after at TIFR’s Molecular Biology Unit (MBU) and NCBS.</p>
<p><br />NCBS has maintained a competitive environment and a high bar for research. It has also enforced a tenure system for over a decade. Faculty members are evaluated on their research output after a few years. The process is successful in pushing the bar up. But younger faculty members today express that it also creates an environment where the tenure’s like a cloud hovering on everyone’s mind. One member commented on the perceived vagueness of the process, where the faculty were sometimes not sure what they would be assessed on. “Nobody knows what they’re looking for,” said the current NCBS faculty member. The only known metric was to publish, and publish well. In a sense, it is not different from other tenure-track institutions in the world. And while the process for getting tenure has been around for reasonably long, it’s still not a standard model across India, and it hasn’t had a long enough gestation period at NCBS yet, especially when compared to much older universities across the world.</p>
<p><br />Regardless of that, research areas have been shaped around the hires. “The place grew as people came along,” said Obaid Siddiqi in his 2003 oral history interview. “Not according to a fixed plan of how it would go. But the plan was that it would be a broad based place and all these areas should be equally strong. This is a great mistake in institutions where people simply begin to get more and more people of their own kind or [according to] what their [own] ideas are.” Listen to this, and other hiring stories in the Gallery (and see the Research – Shifts Theme). Also see TM Sahadevan’s memory of the hand over between Siddiqi and K VijayRaghavan for the director’s position at NCBS in 1998.</p>
<p><br />The hiring process for support staff is perhaps even more critical since the day to day functioning of the Centre depends on these people. PP Ranjith, who started as an all-jobs person, continues to play that role, and has been running interference between the science and process of getting it done for over two decades. Shaju Varghese was all set to move from his well-set position at TIFR to start a kitchen at the upstart NCBS in 1992. But the 1992 Bombay riots held him back. In his interview excerpt, he reflects on how the riots shaped his outlook. <span>3-Hiring-A1</span> And listen to Prem Chandra Gautam, lead of the instrumentation division at NCBS, as he talks about his search for confidence in an individual when he is hiring someone new to his team. <span>3-Hiring-A2</span></p>
<p><br />The career growth path for many in the staff at NCBS is limited. A significant proportion of the work is carried out by temporary staff on one to three-year contracts. H Krishnamurthy, who heads the cytometry and imaging facility, believes strongly in this model. Hear his views on this and on why he forces them to keep educating themselves. <span>3-Hiring-A3</span></p>
<p><br />The staff at NCBS is often praised, by people within the system and outside. One NCBS faculty member felt the campus would basically cease to function if the teams led by Ranjith, Gautam and the reception staff were to disappear. And a new NCBS student exclaimed that she just didn’t understand how systems just seemed to work at NCBS. Who are these people, how do they get hired, she wondered. In a way, her question also points to the largely invisible work of the catering, security and cleaning services. It’s hard to answer her question. Perhaps it lies in some combination of scale, competence and job insecurity for the contract staff. But one way or the other, the bigger challenge is that it sets a precedent and a bar for the system to maintain.</p>
<span>3-Hiring-PS2</span> <br /><br />
<p><br />Satyajit Mayor was just not sure about this Bangalore thing. He’d lived outside India for over a decade and, with high profile publications, had a pretty set start to his career in the United States. And his post doctoral gig was in New York. He just had to pick up the phone with a request and the ball would set rolling. The world, in every kaleidoscopic fashion, was at his doorstep, from chemical reagents to Broadway. And then, there was this Bangalore offer.</p>
<p><br />K VijayRaghavan and Obaid Siddiqi at NCBS had both reached out to him, asking him what he needed to get his research going at Bangalore. A good place to grow cells and a good microscope with an image capturing device, he said. You’ll have the best, said VijayRaghavan. Mayor wasn’t convinced. It was the early 1990s. At TIFR in Bombay perhaps, he thought. But in Bangalore? Listen to the rest of his story where he discusses his start-up days, when he realized he had to “bring the world into my own space”. (Also see Mayor’s December 1994 letter to Siddiqi in the Growth – Hiring theme). <span>3-Startup-A3</span></p>
<p><br />One can draw parallels between VijayRaghavan’s assurance to Mayor and Bhabha’s correspondence with Siddiqi in the 1960s. Even before Siddiqi joined, Bhabha asked him for a list of equipment he would need, and sent out notices to Trombay and the faculty at TIFR to assess what was there and what needed to be bought. Later, soon after Siddiqi joined in 1962, the war between India and China started. Resources were tight. In the midst of that in November 1962, the Registrar of TIFR found a way to start off Siddiqi’s programme because there would be “savings under some heads (electricity, etc)”. Check out these documents in the slideshow below.</p>
<p><br />Institution building takes a few different kinds of people. There are the ones who imagine the future, as Siddiqi tried to do with the Molecular Biology Unit, and then, NCBS. That imagination has to be coupled with optimism; it is crucial in a system that may not necessarily bend to help. In the featured video clip, Mitradas Panicker shares his memories of the ‘interview’ with Siddiqi at Caltech, the vision he was sold, and the people he met on the ground when he landed in India.</p>
<p><br />Institution building also needs people to execute a vision, expand it, modify it, and contest it, as did the early faculty at NCBS. Then, someone to help connect with the outside world, like MK Mathew, with his strong ties to IISc. <span>3-Startup-A2</span> Some who are going to do any odd job thrown at them, as did N Shanthakumary and KS Vishalakshi when they joined the TIFR Centre in the early to mid 1980s and found themselves learning how to use a scientific typewriter and churning out student theses. <span>3-Startup-A4</span> Some who are like glue, and resourceful to find ways around problems, like Prem Chandra Gautam <span>3-Startup-A1</span> and PP Ranjith <span>3-Startup-A5</span> did at different stages of NCBS’ early life. The featured audio clips give a glimpse into some of these start-up stories, as do many more in the Gallery. The featured photo above and those in the slideshow below show documents and scenes from the NCBS days before it moved to the current campus.</p>
<p><br />Start-ups are useful to look at since they are often the most interesting and stressful phases of an institution and individual’s career. But the takeaways often repeat themselves in various avatars through an institution’s trajectory. Above all, you need a culture of, as Jayant Udgaonkar said, <a href="">“extreme optimism and mild jugaad”</a>.</p>
<p><br />More? Hear L Shashidhara’s story in the Gallery for a perspective on starting out as a post doctoral researcher and getting by with a healthy dose of luck and adventure and a little bit of chutzpah.<br /><br /></p>
<p><br />MK Mathew’s decision to move from Caltech to Bangalore in the late 1980s was a homecoming of sorts. Bangalore was where he had a stint studying at the IIM and decided management was _not_ what he wanted to do. It was where he had produced plays and made announcements for programmes on All India Radio. And it was where he did his PhD, in P Balaram’s group at IISc. He had a network.</p>
<p><br />The memorandum of understanding (MoU) between NCBS and the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) was more than a rental agreement. It stressed the research collaboration between the two institutes. This collaboration found its beginnings through Mathew’s group. M Udayakumar, a faculty member at UAS, would send students to Mathew, and, in turn, teach the tenants how to work with plants. Listen to Mathew, as he discusses how the two institutes still work together, on understanding the physiology of drought tolerant rice that UAS has bred. It is also perhaps pertinent to point out that their collaboration is an exception to the rule – the number of joint projects today is not indicative of the 1991 promise of a rich collaborative atmosphere. <span>3-Collab-A1</span></p>
<p><br />Collaborations in the form of building international networks have been part of the TIFR model since its inception. In the featured video clip, BV Sreekantan talks about Homi Bhabha bringing in researchers from around the world in the early days of the Institute. International collaborations have sometimes been viewed with suspicion, as seen in the cautionary note from AV Hill at the Royal Society to Bhabha in January 1945, where, toward the end, he asks Bhabha to relay a message to JRD Tata: “People here really do want to help - but don't like being regarded as tricksters”. Examples of such interactions are also shown in the two slideshows.</p>
<p><br />The Molecular Biology Unit (MBU) at TIFR got off to a start primarily because of a 40,000-pound grant from the Wellcome Trust in 1963. But molecular biology in TIFR in the early 1960s was a lone ship. Indeed, in 1966, Obaid Siddiqi wrote to MGK Menon during a visit to Yale that “the startling pace at which the field has moved made me feel rather depressed and acutely aware of the slowness of our endeavours”. (See the Ripple Effects theme for more on this). The group would continue to invite known researchers in the field, like Frank Stahl’s phage workshop at TIFR in the late 1960s. The Mahabaleshwar Seminars, which were started in 1975 by Siddiqi and John Barnabas, were instrumental in bringing together researchers and students. (At NCBS today, interestingly, it is the students of the theory group who have been instrumental in bringing together some collaboration and cross-talk). The MBU faculty would also reach out the broader scientific community, notably in the case of Siddiqi’s neurobiology collaborations with Seymour Benzer at Caltech.</p>
<p><br />Around 2000, NCBS sent its annual report to various companies, seeking support for its research programmes. Reliance Industries expressed interest in collaborating by investing in biotechnology and bio-informatics tools. Meeting minutes from April 2000 in the slideshow give a sense of the diverse views in the faculty at the time. Mitradas Panicker’s interview excerpt also highlights a particular interesting time in early human embryonic stem cell research, when NCBS collaborated with a fertility clinic in Bombay in the late 1990s. <span>3-Collab-A3</span></p>
<p><br />For any new institute or discipline, there is a fine balance between heavy collaboration and building an independent identity. In the early 1990s, after the formation of NCBS, it had its own separate section (besides the MBU) in the TIFR annual reports. The opening paragraph over those few years would take pains to stress that there was "a great deal of collaboration and cooperation" between the two groups. Also listen to CNR Rao’s reflection on the interaction between IISc and NCBS when it started at the TIFR Centre in the early 1990s. <span>3-Collab-A2</span> And to Dasaradhi Palakodeti’s views on the current conversation between NCBS and InStem, two institutes adjacent to each other. <span>3-Collab-A4</span></p>
<p><br />When researchers of different institutes and disciplines work adjacent to each other, it is natural to expect some cross-pollination. There was much promise of this synergistic environment between the physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics scientists at TIFR over the years. But it hasn’t happened to the extent that people have wanted. That perhaps has been one of the biggest losses, a big what-could-have-been. Listen to K VijayRaghavan on this <span>3-Collab-A5</span> and head to the Gallery to listen to the views of MS Raghunathan and Shobhona Sharma for more.<br /><br /></p>
<p> </p>
<p><br />The reason Debakshi Mullick didn’t go to check the results after she appeared for the NCBS interviews was that she knew she’d failed miserably. Her interviews were shorter than everyone else’s interviews. And whatever she said didn’t seem to satisfy her panel. “Whatever I answered, they had a counter answer to it,” she said. And so, she felt, alright, okay, I know nothing. What was the point in checking the result? And then there was that question that Axel Brockmann asked her, of a negative relation between a plant and an animal. What was she thinking?</p>
<p><br />Mullick is a current PhD student at NCBS. In her interview excerpt, she looks back at that time a few years back. <span>3-Students-A5</span></p>
<p><br />The interview process for students at NCBS and TIFR has built quite a reputation for itself. It carries quite a bit of weight in the decision making. Its history goes back a few decades at least, to the point where current faculty at TIFR can see similarities between their interview when they were a student to those they conduct today. Go to the Gallery to hear Krishanu Ray’s recollections of his interview. The interview questions come in all shapes and sizes, as evident in Jagdish Krishnaswamy’s recounting of a KS Krishnan question in the featured video. And over the years, some places, one faculty member said, have figured out how to game the NCBS system. Especially those Delhi University folks, he added.</p>
<p><br />It wasn’t always quite so structured. In 1975, Veronica Rodrigues, a college student in Dublin, Ireland, was impressed by the elegance of a paper she read on bacterial recombination. So, she reached out to Vijay Sarathy, the lead author, thinking he was the principal investigator. Sarathy passed it on to Obaid Siddiqi, the second author and principal investigator. Siddiqi replied back to her. Later, Rodrigues sent a request to Siddiqi asking to join him for a PhD. And that was that. See the slideshow for a copy of this letter. Also listen to the views of Aditi Bhattacharya, who joined NCBS in the early 2000s, and came from a college system with no background in research or in reading scientific journal articles. <span>3-Students-A3</span></p>
<p><br />When it started, NCBS wouldn’t get many applicants. Sure, there was the TIFR name, but there were far more established places in Bangalore. K VijayRaghavan thinks back to that time in his interview excerpt, stressing that one of the few things NCBS had going for itself in those early days, besides the TIFR name, was a sense of enthusiasm in the faculty. <span>3-Students-A2</span> (The MSc Wildlife Programme today has echoes of this. The number of applicants is still relatively small, and the programme attracts many who leave lucrative careers to jump into conservation. The faculty see that and also point out a passion they see in their students that they don’t normally see in other parts of the campus).</p>
<p><br />Ritu Khurana (now Bhavana Shivu), NCBS’ first graduate student, was the first person from Jayant Udgaonkar’s group to move from Bombay to Bangalore. She would use the facilities in the Molecular Biophysics Unit at IISc. Later, when NCBS acquired a fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC) system, she and other students would play host to IISc students. The NCBS experience was unusual in hindsight, she said by email. She was never taught subordination, and never hesitated in picking up intellectual arguments with professors, regardless of their stature. The egalitarian experience sticks out, she said, especially in light of work later in her career.</p>
<p><br />NCBS is an established brand today. The reasons to come to the campus are many, and the students have diverse backgrounds. For instance, Anubhab Khan, a current PhD student, makes water desalination plants as a hobby. And in his interview clip, Khan quips that he was drawn to NCBS initially not by its research, but by the food and landscaping. It’s a fair point, too, especially when one can choose. <span>3-Students-A4</span></p>
<p><br />Due to a combination of interest in biotechnology and the reputation of the Centre, NCBS gets up to 10,000 applications some years. But the number of students NCBS takes is still a handful, to a point where the acceptance ratio at NCBS can be less than one percent in those years. Students reflect the zeitgeist of the system, one that is accentuated by the wide interest in biotechnology. That creates a large background of students who hop along the requirements of the system to clear the competitive exam hurdles. The faculty are on the lookout for a small set of students who are really interested in the research process. Listen to Mukund Thattai’s reflection on what he calls the signal to noise problem for faculty at places like NCBS. <span>3-Students-A1</span></p>
<p><br /><br /></p>
<p>SN Basha’s family used to be in the moti business in Bijapur in north Karnataka in the 1970s. It was a decent life. Then, in 1975, the Emergency changed their business fortunes and he found himself in Bangalore in search of a job. He joined the New Government Electrical Factory (NGEF). And when that shut down in 2002, he was again on the lookout, for anything.</p>
<p><br />One of Basha’s acquaintances who worked as a security guard at NCBS told him about the place and brought him along. It’s been his job since then to keep an eye on people going in and out of campus. It was a small place back then, NCBS. Kind of in the middle of nowhere. But everyone knew everyone. <br /><br />It's much bigger today. He has to ask for identification when someone enters the campus. And it’s been hard to keep up with every single person’s face. It’s unrealistic. And sometimes people just don’t get that.</p>
<p><br />Scaling affects everyone. Listen to Basha’s views on how it affects his work. <span>3-Scaling-A4</span></p>
<p><br />Institutions tend to grow, in square feet, intellectual merit, and political heft. What happens in the process is the thing of interest. Around its 10-year anniversary, NCBS conducted an external review of the Centre, taking into consideration the way it was going to scale. In the featured audio slideshow are some of the documents shared with a review committee. Also hear an excerpt from a recent interview with K VijayRaghavan, faculty member at NCBS, on lien with the Government of India, where he serves as the Secretary to the Department of Biotechnology.</p>
<span>3-Scaling-A0</span> <span>3-Scaling-PS4</span>
<p><br />Talk on scaling is like a background hum at NCBS today. You hear it everywhere and from everyone, students, faculty and staff. NCBS is too big, it’s not big enough, it has to grow, why should it grow, I don’t know anyone, why does that matter. The Gallery offers opinions from a variety of current community members on the issue. In his interview, Satyajit Mayor, a faculty member and current director of NCBS, gives his take on scale, asserting the Centre is in a sweet spot, having space to expand its research when needed. <span>3-Scaling-A2</span> And in the featured audio clip, Sudhir Krishna, a faculty member at NCBS, shares his concern on the future of the NCBS funding structure and the future of students at the institute. <span>3-Scaling-A3</span></p>
<p><br />Five years after the founding of NCBS, Obaid Siddiqi wrote a note on the academic and administrative structure of the Centre. These notes, and other historical documents around scale, are in the slideshow below. Siddiqi made the case for giving the Centre more structure through management boards and advisory committees, instead of decisions through ad hoc meetings. One of the guiding principles at NCBS has been to keep a small number of permanent administrative staff and run the system with the additional help of temporary staff and contracting agencies. In his interview excerpt, Ashok Rao, an administrative officer at NCBS, shares his concerns on the administrative gaps that he sees in the system today. <span>3-Scaling-A1</span></p>
<p><br />Perhaps at the heart of all the angst at NCBS is the question of cultural changes as the institution grows. But institutional culture is an ethereal beast, a slipshod composite of ideas, processes and people. As Mary Douglas says in her 1986 book, How Institutions Think, “Our social interaction consists very much in telling one another what right thinking is and passing blame on wrong thinking. This is indeed how we build the institutions, squeezing each other's ideas into a common shape so that we can prove rightness by sheer numbers of independent assent.”</p>
<p><br />NCBS has led an unlikely and remarkable 25-year journey. But still, it is 25, a mite-sized number in a chart of institutional ages. Only when the institution outlives its founders, when new generations keep imbuing the place with their vision, work, dissent, and anxiety, might one be able to measure its relevance.</p>
<p> </p>

Table Of Contents

Hiring, Start-ups, Collaborations, Student Selections, Scaling

Items in the Growth Collection

MK Mathew, faculty member at NCBS: Early work with M. Udayakumar, a faculty member at the University of Agricultural Sciences, and, today, on drought tolerant rice.

CNR Rao, National Research Professor at JNCASR and former director, IISc: On the NCBS start-up at the TIFR Centre, IISc, while the main campus was being built.

Mitradas Panicker, faculty member at NCBS: Memories of early stem cell work at NCBS in the late 1990s, including collaborations with a fertility clinic in Bombay.

Dasaradhi Palakodeti, faculty member at InStem: On a desire for more interaction and collaboration across the NCBS-InStem-C-CAMP bio-cluster.

K VijayRaghavan, faculty member at NCBS: On the perceived hierarchy of disciplines within the TIFR system.

MS Raghunathan, former mathematics faculty member and student, TIFR: Reflections on the collaborations -- or lack, thereof -- between physicists, mathematicians and biologists at TIFR.

Vidyanand Nanjundiah, faculty member at TIFR in 1980s: On his move from IISc to TIFR, and reflections on the newly proposed (c 1981) IISc-TIFR joint centre for biology.

Shobhona Sharma, former student and current faculty member, TIFR: Thoughts on collaborations between the different disciplines at TIFR.

Shaju Varghese, hospitality/security/canteen supervisor: His team's work in running a thinly-staffed canteen during the 1992 Bombay riots, and how it shaped his career.

Prem Chandra Gautam, head, Instrumentation Division: On the hiring process in his group, and what he looks for in new hires.

H Krishnamurthy, scientific officer and head of imaging/cytometry, NCBS: On pushing his technical staff to enter into degree programs while working.

Jayant Udgaonkar, faculty member at NCBS: On his concern regarding faculty inbreeding in research institutes and his own effort to prevent it at NCBS.

R Sowdhamini, faculty member at NCBS: On a delay in her hiring due to an NCBS faculty search in the mid 1990s for neuroscience researchers.

PN Bhavsar, scientific officer at TIFR from the 1960s till his retirement: On his interview process at TIFR in the 1960s for the position of a lab assistant.

BJ Rao, a faculty member at TIFR: On his conversation with Obaid Siddiqi regarding a move back to India in the 1980s, and the ensuing correspondence.

Obaid Siddiqi, founding member of NCBS & TIFR's molecular biology unit: Cautionary note on the hiring process for administration

N Shanthakumary, early hire in NCBS administration: Memories of entering the IISc campus for the first time in the early 1980s, and being hired into the system.

Sumantra Chattarji, faculty member at NCBS: Starting as a new NCBS member in the late 1990s, and the encounters with Obaid Siddiqi, K VijayRaghavan and Jayant Udgaonkar.

K VijayRaghavan, faculty member at NCBS: On being offered a position at the future NCBS while he was a PhD student at TIFR in the early 1980s.

K VijayRaghavan, faculty member at NCBS: On the need for institutions to grow and being able to outlive their pasts.

Ashok Rao, administrative officer: On his concern for lack of a robust mid-level management setup at NCBS as it keeps growing.

Satyajit Mayor, faculty member and current director, NCBS: His perspective on the sweet spot that NCBS is in today, with an ability to grow with thought and deliberation.

Sudhir Krishna, faculty member at NCBS: The future of the NCBS funding structure as it grows and the need to consider the future of students studying at the institute.

SN Basha, staff member of the NCBS security services: On the difficulties of keeping track of everyone on campus as it grows, and the need to request IDs of people who enter.

Jayant Udgaonkar, faculty member at NCBS: On why he resigned as dean, and his concern about the "ad-hoc" measures implemented across campus

UB Poornima, chief architect at NCBS: Reflecting on changes in staff attitudes as an institution grows.

TM Sahadevan, long-time administrative architect at NCBS: On the concerns of the institute as it grows and a need to cut across red tape while following structure.

Sumantra Chattarji, faculty member at NCBS: Reflections on owernship of institutional facilities as a Centre grows.

Sumantra Chattarji, faculty member at NCBS: Cautionary thoughts on the risk of scaling up an institute's size.

Prem Chandra Gautam, head, Instrumentation Division: On devising a way to build two parallel telephone exchanges with inter-operable numbers, based on his previous knowledge of telephone exchanges.

MK Mathew, faculty member at NCBS: On the early days of NCBS, his role as a bridge between IISc and NCBS/TIFR Centre, and getting grant money for new research.

Satyajit Mayor, faculty member and current director, NCBS: The thought process prior to joining NCBS in the mid 1990s, the intense persuasion from NCBS and the immediate aftermath upon landing in Bangalore.

KS Vishalakshi, early NCBS hire for administration: Reflections on starting at the TIFR Centre as a daily wage worker and typing up 100s of theses for students.

PP Ranjith, early hire as lab manager at NCBS: Memories of working with students in the early days of NCBS, and taking ownership of instruments

PN Bhavsar, scientific officer at TIFR from the 1960s till his retirement: On becoming a purchase officer for NCBS at its early stages in the mid 1990s.

Jayant Udgaonkar, faculty member at NCBS: On the importance of camaraderie in the early years of NCBS.

MK Mathew, faculty member at NCBS: The struggle to import Xenopus (a frog species) and the delay in the start of his experimental work at NCBS.

PP Ranjith, early hire as lab manager at NCBS: Reflections on his role as someone who filled up many job positions in the early days of NCBS

PP Ranjith, early hire as lab manager at NCBS: Working with Satyajit Mayor to develop a vibration-free table in the mid 1990s.

Shaju Varghese, hospitality/security/canteen supervisor: On the early days of the NCBS canteen at the TIFR Centre, IISc.

L Shashidhara, early post-doctoral researcher at NCBS, faculty at IISER: Start-up days at NCBS in the mid 1990s and an ability to apply for grants independently.

Villoo Patell, early post doctoral researcher at NCBS and entrepreneur: Reflections on starting a company in NCBS in the mid to late 1990s, and the research environment at the time.

Mukund Thattai, a 'Young Investigator' NCBS hire and current faculty member: The struggle for research centres in finding the right students and ensuring both faculty and students benefit from the process of a PhD.

K VijayRaghavan, faculty member at NCBS: Reflecting that enthusiasm in the early faculty was a significant influencer for students to opt for NCBS when it started up.

Aditi Bhattacharya, research scientist and former student: On entering NCBS as a graduate student in the early 2000s with no experience reading research papers.

Anubhab Khan, current NCBS student: On a few unusual hobbies, and his path to joining NCBS.

Debakshi Mullick, current PhD student at NCBS: On her interview prior to entering NCBS.

Krishanu Ray, faculty member and former PhD student at TIFR: Memories of his PhD interview at TIFR, and comparing it to interviews today

1945 Jan D-2004-00345-9(1 - 8) Hill to HB - trickster JRD comment_1.pdf
AV Hill's letter in January 1945 to Homi Bhabha, reflecting on scientific cooperation. Toward the end, he asks Bhabha to relay a message to JRD Tata, that "people here really do want to help - but don't like being regarded as tricksters".

1945 Jan D-2004-00345-9(1 - 8) Hill to HB - trickster JRD comment_2.pdf
AV Hill's letter in January 1945 to Homi Bhabha, reflecting on scientific cooperation. Toward the end, he asks Bhabha to relay a message to JRD Tata, that "people here really do want to help - but don't like being regarded as tricksters".