Penn State, Indian Institute of Science hold joint workshops, sign memorandum

March 14, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) recently held two Joint Workshops at IISc’s campus in Bangalore, India, on Jan. 7-8. The two-day event culminated in the signing of a formal Memorandum of Understanding between Penn State and IISc, paving the way for future collaborations between the two institutions. However, there have been links between Penn State and IISc for over a decade.

Vasant G. Honavar in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State is responsible for many of these links and has a long history with both institutions.

“I grew up in Bangalore, where IISc is located. I spent countless hours in the IISc library when I was in high school and when I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in Bangalore,” he said. “I almost joined IISc to pursue a PhD but ended up in the U.S. instead. … I have been visiting IISc off and on and meeting with IISc faculty during my visits to Bangalore over the past 20 years.”

As a result of these visits and other collaborations, Honavar was named the Sudha Murty Distinguished Visiting Chair in Neurocomputing and Data Science at IISc in 2016, the second chair of its kind.

Many relationships and projects have resulted, including a high-profile research paper, titled “Minimum Intervention Cover of a Causal Graph,” published at the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, a highly selective conference.

During the Jan. 7-8 meetings, Honavar organized workshops focused on Data-Intensive Biomedical, Cognitive, and Brain Sciences. Other Penn State faculty involved in these workshops were Michele Diaz, College of the Liberal Arts; Santhosh Girirajan, Eberly College of Science; and Vijay Narayanan, College of Engineering.

Honavar is not the only faculty champion who has been working closely with IISc faculty. Jainendra K. Jain, in the Eberly College of Science, has also been collaborating with the institution at various points over the past 15 years. He has held multiple visiting professorships, including a current appointment as Infosys Visiting Chair Professor, which lasts until 2020.

“The IISc faculty and students are world-class researchers,” said Jain. “I have enjoyed very fruitful collaborations with several IISc colleagues on projects … which are believed to provide a promising platform for future technology.”

Recently, two of these projects resulted in publications in the Physics Review Letters, the premier journal in the field (here and here).

Jain organized a weekend of workshops focused on figuring out future areas of collaboration between Penn State and IISc in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology. The Penn State faculty involved in this workshop were John Badding, Department of Chemistry; Vincent Crespi, Department of Physics; Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics; and Nitin Samarth, Department of Physics.

At the end of the workshops, Penn State and IISc held a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony to formalize the partnership. Robert Crane, interim vice provost for Global Programs at Penn State, gave remarks and signed the agreement.

“India is a key area for strategic partnership moving forward, and IISc is a world-class institution,” said Crane. “We look forward to pursuing more opportunities for collaboration with IISc.”

The MoU lays out the intent of the two institutions to pursue collaborative research, student and faculty exchanges, and additional focused workshops on topics of mutual interest.

Since the MoU, some collaborations are already moving forward. A joint collaborative proposal, titled “IISc-Penn State collaboration on two-dimensional topological matter," was submitted by IISc faculty members to a new initiative of the Indian government called “Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration” (SPARC). The proposal has recently been approved and will support exchange of students and postdocs on collaborative projects.

“With the MoU between IISc and PSU in place, I look forward to expanding these collaborations to include many more colleagues across multiple disciplines, colleges, and institutes at Penn State,” said Honavar.

For more information on the partnership between Penn State and IISc or to get involved, please contact Vasant Honavar, vhonavar@psu.edu; Jainendra Jain, jkj2@psu.edu; or Anne Stover, Strategic Initiatives Office, amc1@psu.edu.

Last Updated March 18, 2019