Area of Expertise
Point-of-care diagnostics, Sustainability, Stakeholder Engagement and Public Policy
• Sustainable agriculture
• Responsible research and innovation
• Antimicrobial resistance
• STEM education research
PhD in Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
• Research Scientist, Dr. Reddy’s Lab, Hyderabad, India
• Science Conversationalist at The Pseudo Doctor
Dr. Kaur’s doctoral research focussed on developing point-of-care molecular diagnostics to improve access to affordable healthcare. Existing technologies like paper-based biosensing and isothermal nucleic acid amplification were miniaturized, improvised, and integrated to develop a platform technology and validated by testing tuberculosis patient samples. Her research was covered in a Nature’s Technology feature article, diagnosticsworldnews.com, and many national newspapers and blogs. After her PhD, she joined as a research scientist at Dr. Reddy’s lab and worked on generic drug development.
At Plaksha, her research will focus on addressing the grand challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Her group will develop diagnostic solutions to build easy-to-scale frugal engineering solutions to establish inexpensive AMR surveillance networks. She is also passionate about STEM education research to facilitate early exposure to disruptive technologies for high school and undergraduate students. Her zeal for science communication is demonstrated by the YouTube channel she runs independently. It caters current and prospective graduate students to help them steer through their PhDs and professional careers. She is an active member of the Plaksha Center for Communication, working towards communicating the research being conducted at Plaksha to the general masses.
India is blessed with one of the best ecosystems for agriculture with the second-largest arable land resources, distribution of all 15 major agri-climatic regions across the country, and Indian fertile lands carrying 46 out of the total 60 soil types found globally. The Indian agriculture industry is a major pillar of national economy, employing approximately 50% of the Indian workforce and contributing 17% to the national GDP. While the natural terrain and climate is highly suitable for agriculture, the Indian agriculture industry has been a very resource intensive system consuming high inputs and consistently delivering sub-optimal outputs. The huge diversity in farm sizes and farmer backgrounds in India amplifies the productivity issues even further. The industry has not seen a major revolution since the Green Revolution in 1960s and poor crop farming productivities have been a significant challenge for the past few decades. The challenges faced by the Indian agriculture industry in light of growing population and climate change have created a complex, multi-dimensional problem space.
Our research is focused on assessing the upcoming gene-editing crops as a major game changer for Indian agriculture. We work on assessing risks associated with large-scale adoption of these crops and developing holistic implementation strategies to manage the identified risks, ensuring consumer safety and crop longevity. Biotech crops have had a troubled history in India and hence we also work on strong stakeholder engagement to bring more transparency for farmers and consumers, fostering responsible innovation and governance. The group also work on developing field-deployable molecular biosensors to enable farmers to make more scientific and data driven solutions to better manage their farms. Driven to create effective technology and social engineering solutions, farmers and consumers are at the centre of everything we do!
She is also a pedagogy research enthusiast and is currently developing a pedagogy toolbox to make learning more experiential and interactive for undergraduate students.
AWSAR Award 2018, Popular science story ranked 15th among top 100 stories from India (https://www.awsar-dst.in/assets/winner_article_2018/15_PhD.pdf)
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