Head: Prof. Uma Shankar
Contact: 272 2201
Prof. Uma Shankar, Head
Department of Botany,
North-Eastern Hill University,
Shillong 793 022
The Department of Botany has been in the forefront of teaching and research in Plant Sciences since its establishment in 1974. The original aim of providing quality education to the educationally underprivileged tribes of the northeastern states has been successfully fulfilled by the Department. The Department stands today as a unique institution in the northeastern region of the country where multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary teaching and research in plant sciences has established permanent roots. The uniqueness of the Department essentially lies in the fact that within the Department’s faculty, there are experts and active researchers representing almost all areas of plant sciences. We believe that in order to be effective, postgraduate teaching must be done by teachers who are also actively involved in research in their respective areas of specialization. We have developed a teaching programme that stresses on the uniformity of principles of macro as well as micro molecular mechanisms in all living systems. Our faculty is very often called upon to teach in other Universities especially in the northeastern region of the country. We also organize refresher courses to help in updating knowledge and skills of teachers in colleges and other universities of the region as well as other parts of the country. The Department also organizes summer school for undergraduate students with Botany (Honours) as well as allied subjects to make them aware of various developments taking place in Plant Sciences. The Department, therefore, serves as a catalyst in the vital scientific and educational activities of India and has a commitment to continue its service to the nation.
Quality teaching requires ongoing research activities, which needs a good deal of financial support. With a current strength of more than 70, the research fellows of the Department constitute the core of its research activities. The Department has been operating several research projects funded by various National and International agencies. National funding agencies like Department of Bio-Technology, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, Indian Council for Agricultural Research, Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Environment and Forests, North Eastern Council, University Grants Commission. The Department also has active research programmes under Indo-French, Indo–EU, Indo-US, Indo–Slovenian bilateral collaborations and host of others have generously supported the ongoing research activities in the Department through sponsored research projects. The financial support received through these projects thus not only enables the faculty members in running their research programmes, but also enable the students to take challenging and modern research topics for their Ph.D. thesis. The faculty of the Department has produced quality research publications in reputed national and international journals. To date, we have over 700 research publications to our credit. The sustained efforts of the faculty have resulted in numerous awards, honours and recognitions to the teachers as well as the students of the Department. In recognition to his contributions in the field of Science & Technology, Govt. of India has conferred Padma Shree on Professor P. Tandon. In addition, we have the honour of having had two Fellows of the Indian National Science Academy (FNA). Other awards conferred on the faculty include, ISCA Millennium Plaques of Honour, F.N.A.Sc., Professor R.N. Tandon Memorial Lecture Award of National Academy of Sciences, India, Gadgil Memorial Lecture Award of Plant Tissue Culture Association of India, B.P. Pal National Environment Fellowship award, Panchanand Maheshwari (IBS) Award, F.N.I.E., F.I.G.S., FISPP, FNRS, and INSA Young Scientists award. In recognition of the excellent work carried out by the department, the University Grants Commission has extended its financial support to the Department under its DSA and COSIST programmes. The UGC recognized the contributions and the excellent work carried out by the faculty and scholars and upgraded the Department to the level of “Centre for Advanced Studies in Botany” 2007. Thus, the Department became the first CAS Department not only in NEHU, but in entire northeast region of India.
The Department has organized several national and regional symposia including one on technology transfer with user agencies. The Department has also organized several Refresher programmes for College/University teachers and two Summer school for students of B.Sc Honours (Botany) and allied subjects.
The non-teaching staff of the department activily assists the faculty in carrying out its teaching and research programmes. Besides helping in the conducting the practical classes of M.Sc students, our senior technical assistants ably man the central instruments facility, the herbarium and the botanical garden.
The level of expertise available with us and the infrastructure we have makes it imperative for us to think about the future activities of the department in fulfilling its mandate of providing training of the highest quality to students of the region in particular and the country at large. In this context, we have taken cognizance of the extremely high richness of floristic wealth and diversity of ecosystems and gene pool in the region. Due to the mosaic nature of geo-climatic conditions in the region, the flora and vegetation of northeastern India shows enormous variation. The region is also home to a large variety of traditional crops that could form an important component of human diet in times to come. The rich biodiversity of the region can generate economic value in terms of extractable plant products, compounds, genes and species. In view of increasing human activities of various types in the region and the upcomming patenting regimes, there is a need for proper evaluation, characterization, documentation and conservation of the plant genetic resources of the region for utilization and economic well-being of the people.
The Department is emphasizing research in following areas: ecological analysis of forest ecosystems of north-east India including plant biodiversity inventory and conservation; ecology of agro-forestry ecosystem; microbial diversity and its conservation; survey of plant genetic resources of the region, their taxonomic characterization and establishment of physical and electronic herbaria; conservation of plant diversity using both in vitro as well as in vivo technologies; establishment of gene bank of the region; cryo-preservation of genetic resources of the region; molecular characterization of rare, endangered and endemic plants of the region; documentation of plant genetic resources using molecular markers; identification and isolation of genes coding desirable traits and their use in plant improvement programmes, molecular phylogeny and ecology, marker assisted plant improvement, development of molecular markers for native and transgenic bioinoculants with special reference to IPR issues. These studies may help generate economic value in terms of extractable plant products, compounds, genes and species, for conservation of ecosystems and plant genetic resources for utilization and economic well-being of the people.
Over the years, the Department has been able to develop one of the best infrastructures for its teaching and research programmes. Two lecture halls and two laboratories provide exquisite environment to the students for their studies. The lecture halls, located in the cluster of Science Complex, are equipped with audio visual facilities to impart quality teaching to the students. The laboratories, constructed in 2002 with the support of DSA-SAP, are designed to provide students adequate working space, comfortable seating, personal cupboard and a supply of glassware, chemicals and equipment. To aid further, students are having access to the Central Instrumentation Facility, Research Laboratories, Botanical Garden, Nursery, Library and Computers.
The research activities of the Department are spread over thirteen laboratories; each faculty supervising one laboratory. More than 70 doctoral students, one research associate constitute the core group working in these laboratories. All the laboratories are replete with the requisite furniture, equipments, glassware and chemicals. Most laboratories also have computers connected to online voice and data network. This has facilitated access to online databases and the UGC INFLIBNET service.
The seminar hall, newly built under 9th Plan, is the most important venue for the Department’s faculty, scholars and students to exchange ideas, discuss ongoing research and future perspectives. Lectures of visiting faculty, seminars of research scholars and degree students are organized in this hall. The hall is equipped with multimedia projection system with a stand by power supply. The Department is well equipped with telephone, LAN and computer network. Every faculty member has a telephone line and a computer in their chambers, which is connected to internet through the University’s centralized VSAT network.
We have been recently able to establish a fully airconditioned central instruements facility with the funds received from DST under its FIST programme. Most of the major equipments purchased by the department funded by the University as well as other sources have been transferred to this facility. The facility is manned by a STA who is assisted by a laboratory attendant.
Since its establishment, the Department has maintained a herbarium to assist the faculty members, research scholars, students and visitors from other institutions in identification and study of plant specimens. The herbarium has a collection of over 3000 plant species predominantly from the northeastern states of India. The collection includes the specimens of rare, threatened, endangered and medicinal plants. All specimens are arranged according to the Bentham and Hooker’s system of classification. The herbarium continues to get richer by the contributions of teachers, research scholars and students regularly. The Herbarium is a miniature representation of plant diversity of the northeastern region. Currently, the herbarium is engaged in accessioning of specimens, creation of a database and digitization of the specimens with support from the DSA-SAP programme. This facility is also manned by a STA.
The Department has established a Botanic Garden spreading over 5 acres and a Nursery in 2 acres located within the campus of the University. The facility has been created with financial support from Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India. The Nursery houses a number of experimental greenhouses. The Botanic Garden started only recently in 2000 and is currently being developed by the Department. The Garden shall house rare, threatened, endemic and medicinal plants of the region and provide excellent opportunity to the postgraduate students and research scholars for experimental purposes. Overall, it adds to the scenic beauty of the campus landscape. The Botanic Garden houses 6 green houses, a glasshouse wherein we maintain many of the rare and threatened plants of the region.
We have a Controlled Environment facility, Phytotron in the Garden for growing plants under controlled environment. The facility conforms to DBT for growing transgenics. This is the only facility of its type in the entire NE India. This facility shall give a tremendous boost to our ongoing teaching and research activities.
The Department has a well developed documentation facility which is accessible to all the faculty, research scholars and postgraduate students. The facility includes photography of research samples and sites under the supervision of a photographer, cartographic work done by a professional cartographer, a xerox machine for photocopy of the research materials and a comb-binding machine for quickly organizing reports.
Some of the major equipments/ facilities available in the department are:
|High speed Cooling Centrifuge||Liquid Scintillation counter|
|Milli Q water purification system||Nitrogen Analyser|
|Automated Weather Station||Total Organic carbon analyzer|
|Kjeltec 2200 Auto Distillation Unit, Foss Tecator||Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer|
|Ultra Centrifuge||Central autoclaving facility|
|Gel Documentation System||Fibretech System|
|Inverted Microscopes with fluorescent attachements||Central Computer lab.|
|FIASTAR Elemental Analyzer||Central Instruement facility|
|UV VIS Spectrophotometers||Moblie laboratory|
|UV Cross linker||Micromanipulator|
|Plant Growth Chambers||Ultra freezers|
|Radioisotope laboratory||Walk-In type cold room|
|Speed Vac system||Computer server for hosting the database of floral resources of the region|
|Plant Growth Chambers||Botanical garden|
|Radioisotope laboratory||Speed Vac system|
|BOD Incubators||Thermal cyclers|
|Lamiar Flow Clean Air work Station||Shaking Incubator|
The Department has received financial support from under COSIST and DST under its FIST programme. The UGC recognized the contributions of the faculty and scholars and upgraded the Department to the ‘Centre for Advanced Studies in Botany’.The Department generated a grant of Rs. 64.889 Lacs through CAS. The department has also received financial support from ICAR as a lead center under NATP. Besides this the department has also received fund from different funding agencies of the Govt. of India in the form of sponsored projects.