Chemistry – key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe, – Prof. P. Sreekumar, Former ISRO Scientist at the Chemergence Inaugural at St Aloysius College – KONKANCATHOLIC.COM

Chemistry – key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe, – Prof. P. Sreekumar, Former ISRO Scientist at the Chemergence Inaugural at St Aloysius College

September 12, 2023

Mangaluru: In a day that resonated with boundless enthusiasm, a thirst for knowledge, and the unwavering promise of a brighter tomorrow, CHEMERGENCE 2023 emerged as a beacon of inspiration. This remarkable event, meticulously orchestrated by the UG & PG Departments of Chemistry at St Aloysius College (Autonomous), achieved its noble mission of kindling an enduring passion for chemistry within the hearts and minds of the young, inquisitive participants.

This captivating one-day Chemistry Programme, CHEMERGENCE 2023 held on September 11, 2023, at the prestigious Fr L. F. Rasquinha Hall, LCRI Block of the College, marked the beginning of a day filled with inspiration, knowledge, and the promise of a brighter scientific future.

The distinguished honor of inaugurating CHEMREGENCE 2023 was bestowed upon the eminent astrophysicist and former scientist of ISRO, Prof. P. Sreekumar.

Prof. P. Sreekumar, presently serving as the Director of Natural Sciences at MAHE (Manipal Academy of Higher Education), graced the event with his exceptional expertise and insights, setting the stage for an intellectually stimulating and enlightening day.

About the Chief Guest: Dr. P. Sreekumar

Dr. Sreekumar completed his MSc in Physics from the esteemed Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. His passion and curiosity about the cosmos led him to specialize in astrophysics, setting the stage for his remarkable career.

Driven by an unwavering passion for unrevealing the mysteries of the universe, Dr. Sreekumar pursued his Ph.D. research at the University of New Hampshire, USA. His focus on gamma-ray astronomy, a field teeming with challenges and discoveries, positioned him as a leading authority in this domain.

After earning his Ph.D., Dr. Sreekumar’s started his journey of post-doctoral research on the emerging area of observing the Universe in gamma-rays using NASA’s Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. He spent a decade at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.  

In 1999, Dr. Sreekumar joined the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), where he assumed the role of heading the space astronomy division. His expertise and vision played a pivotal role in advancing India’s capabilities in space-based astrophysical research.

In 2013, Dr. Sreekumar was deputed as Director at the prestigious Indian Institute of Astrophysics. His leadership transformed the institute into a hub of cutting-edge research and innovation.

In 2018, he returned to ISRO headquarters, this time as the Director of the Space Science Program office. His tenure was marked by a period of remarkable growth and achievements in space science missions. His contributions further solidified India’s reputation in the global space arena.

Even after superannuation as a Distinguished Scientist in 2020, Dr. Sreekumar’s commitment to nurturing young talent and advancing scientific pursuits remained unwavering. He served as the Satish Dhawan Professor at ISRO HQ from March 2020 to January 2023, offering invaluable guidance in an advisory capacity to the Science Program Office.

Since April 1, 2023, Dr. Sreekumar has assumed the esteemed role of Professor and Director of the Manipal Center for Natural Sciences at MAHE, Manipal. With a wealth of experience and expertise in the realm of natural sciences, Dr. Sreekumar brings a transformative vision to his prestigious institution.

Dr. Sreekumar, a luminary in the world of astrophysics and space science, stands as a beacon of inspiration for young aspiring scientists gathered here and all those who aspire to pursue a career in the basic sciences. His journey from a dedicated astrophysicist to a transformative leader in space science serves as an inspiration to all.

In a packed hall brimming with students, educators, and science enthusiasts, Dr. Sreekumar took the stage with an air of authority and enthusiasm. He shared his extensive knowledge and experiences as an astrophysicist and his contributions as a former scientist at ISRO.

Dr. Sreekumar began by commending St Aloysius College as an institution that fosters young minds and encourages them to transcend the confines of conventional standards. He emphasized that the world of Chemistry, like the universe itself, is a boundless realm of fascination and wonder. He spoke of how Chemistry permeates our lives, touching almost every aspect of our existence, and plays a pivotal role in scientific advancements.

Drawing from his vast knowledge of astrophysics, Dr. Sreekumar drew parallels between Chemistry and the cosmos. He explained that, just as hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, holds the key to understanding the origins of all other elements, Chemistry holds the key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe. From the Big Bang theory to the understanding of the sun’s temperature and the recent success of the Adithya L1 project, Dr. Sreekumar showcased the significant role that Chemistry plays in our exploration of the cosmos.

His address highlighted the remarkable contributions of Chemistry to our understanding of celestial bodies and the universe’s underlying principles, such as the powerful tool of the black body curve, which played a pivotal role in the Adithya L1 project. Dr. Sreekumar emphasized that the pursuit of science, including Chemistry, enhances logical reasoning and critical thinking, fostering well-rounded individuals capable of contributing to society’s advancement.

In his presidential address Rev. Dr. Praveen Martis, SJ, the Principal of St Aloysius College, expressed profound gratitude for having a stalwart like Dr. Sreekumar grace the college and inspire young minds with his knowledge and passion.

Rev. Dr. Praveen Martis extolled the importance of nurturing aspirations and dreams in young students. He emphasized that passion is the driving force behind excellence and that students should deeply engage with their chosen fields. He eloquently described how these aspirations serve as the compass guiding individuals through their educational journeys and beyond. By instilling the belief that no dream is too ambitious to chase, he set the stage for a profound discussion on the role of passion in achieving these aspirations Drawing inspiration from past visits by eminent scientists like Dr. C.N.R. Rao and Dr. Kasturirangan, he underscored the transformative power of such interactions. He shared anecdotes and personal experiences that illustrated how one’s genuine love for a subject or a career path can propel them to achieve great heights. He encouraged students to identify their passions early and passionately engage with their chosen fields. He asserted that genuine enthusiasm not only sustains motivation but also fosters innovation and resilience in the face of challenges.

 A Day of Immersive Learning and Exploration

The heart of CHEMERGENCE 2023 lay in its interactive sessions and a diverse array of Chemistry-related competitions, each meticulously designed to engage, enlighten, and inspire. These events went beyond mere contests, offering profound learning experiences:

Molecular Kick Start: An invigorating ice-breaker event that set the stage for the day’s journey of discovery.

The Panel Game: A riveting quiz that tested participants’ understanding of the intricate world of Chemistry.

Chem Forum: A platform for passionate discussions and knowledge sharing among budding scientists.

Chemistry Around Me: A Photography Competition that showcased the integration of Chemistry into daily life.

Frolic in the War of Reactions: An Interactive Session Delving into the Captivating World of Chemical Reactions

Chromo Chemistry: A creative Chem Rangoli competition blending artistry with the science of Chemistry.

Celebrity Scientist: A mock press event allowing participants to step into the shoes of renowned scientists.

Capture the Colour: A documentary competition unveiling the vibrant hues of Chemistry.

Chem Masti: A mad ad competition infusing humor and creativity into Chemistry.

Star of Chemergence: A thrilling treasure hunt engaging participants in a quest for knowledge.

Chem Music: A harmonious singing competition fusing the love of Chemistry with the magic of music.

Dr. Rachael Natasha Mary, the Head of UG Chemistry, exemplified inclusivity with her warm welcome to all participants. Dr. Ronald Nazareth’s Introduced the chief guest. Dr Vinola Rodrigues felicitated the young achievers of the department. Ms. Meghana A expressed heartfelt gratitude on behalf of the organizing committee, highlighting their dedication to making CHEMERGENCE 2023 a resounding success. Ms Christina, a second-year M.Sc. Chemistry student, skillfully compered the event, ensuring seamless execution.

The valedictory program of Chemergence, a flagship event in the field of chemistry, unfolded with grace and purpose in the evening at the prestigious Fr. LF Rasquinha Auditorium. The program, featuring distinguished guests, shed light on the promising future of chemistry and the role of education in fostering compassion and social justice.

Mrs. Vani Kumari, the Vice President of the DK PU Chemistry Teachers Association, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Her address illuminated the numerous opportunities that the field of chemistry holds for aspiring young minds. Mrs. Kumari’s inspiring words resonated with the audience as she encouraged students to consider chemistry as a promising and dynamic career path. Her insights into the ever-evolving landscape of chemistry research and education left attendees with a newfound enthusiasm for the subject.

In his presidential remarks Rev. Fr. Vincent Pinto, SJ, the Finance Officer of the college, emphasized the importance of compassion towards the less privileged in society and the pivotal role of education in shaping a just and equitable world. His words served as a touching reminder of the moral responsibility that accompanies knowledge and education. His address left an indelible mark on the audience, inspiring them to use their education and expertise for the betterment of society.

Chemergence 2023, a highly anticipated academic fest in the field of chemistry, concluded with great excitement and enthusiasm as Little Rock Indian School, Bhramavar, clinched the winning title. Sharada P. U. College Mangalore emerged as the deserving runners-up in this fiercely contested competition. The event witnessed the participation of 575 students from 39 pre-university colleges across Karnataka, making it a resounding success in terms of both scale and intellectual engagement.

The fest not only provided a platform for healthy competition but also fostered camaraderie and the exchange of ideas among students from diverse backgrounds and regions. It served as a melting pot of intellectual curiosity and innovation, inspiring students to explore the boundless possibilities within the realm of chemistry.