24x7 science labs at uop to give research a boost?

Jan 06, 2014, 04:04 IST | Niranjan Medhekar

Vice-chancellor Dr WN Gade mulls decision to keep 80 laboratories, on the university campus, open round the clock, to help PhD, post-doctorate students concentrate on finishing projects without interruptions

In its bid to help PhD and post-doctorate students concentrate on their projects without the hurdle of official closing time, and promote research culture, the University of Pune (UoP) is planning to keep its 80 laboratories — of various science departments — open round the clock.

This can be termed as one of the New Year resolutions of UoP vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr WN Gade. A biotechnology scientist, Gade seems to understand the importance of students and researchers accessing labs as per their convenience.

Talking to MiD DAY, he said, “Right now I am reviewing the number of students who need to continue their research work till late hours. There are 22 science departments on the campus and each has three to four labs.”

When questioned whether specific labs would be kept open round-the-clock, Gade told he would first discuss this plan with the senate members, and was simultaneously verifying the labs that were not in much demand.

Move welcomed
If the plan is implemented, then it would not be the first time that the UoP would be keeping its labs open 24 hours a day. Reminiscing his early years a researcher, Dr K C Mohite, dean of Science faculty and Principal of H V Desai College, said in late 1970s and 80s the UoP labs would remain open until late night.
“I still remember those days when we did our research work without looking at the watch. I don’t know why in the later years the practice was discontinued. May be nowadays people don’t prefer staying in labs during nighttime.”

Mentioning that it was a welcome move had the V-C decided follow the practice, Mohite said conducting research in pure science subjects requires open labs to ensure uninterrupted continuation of research work research.

Setting an example
UoP’s Microbiology department initiated steps in this regard and has been keeping its lab and library open till 10 pm since 2013.

“Microbiology department has fixed new timings for its labs — 8 am to 10 pm. The new timings help students residing in hostel, as they can now work and use computer labs till 10 pm,” said Duhita Sant, who recently cleared his MSc. She is currently associated with the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) as a project assistant and is in touch with the Microbiology department.

Students of the Microbiology department have been running this initiative at their own level with the help of technology. “Biometric thumb impressions of all students have been saved in a system, which is synchronized with the main door of the lab. The door can’t be open without an authorized thumb impression,” she said.

Safety issue
However, providing security during nighttime seems unfeasible for the varsity’s security department. “Currently, 20 guards patrol the entire campus during nighttime. Providing security guard at each of the labs is not feasible. To do so, the number of guards has to increase four-fold. If the said initiative commences, after discussions with the top authorities we can have a common set up to ensure security of students,” UoP Security Officer M S Kedari said.

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