India Science Media Fellowships 2019

Nature India and the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance jointly launched the India Science Media Fellowships 2019 on 27 February 2018, the eve of India’s National Science Day, to encourage the coverage of science in the Indian media (press release  here).

The 2019 fellowships are open to Indian journalists interested in reporting on life sciences, specifically biomedicine, application-based or basic biological research and health. The fellowship will provide a grant of INR 100,000 to five grantees selected through a nation-wide call for applications.

Selected fellows will have the opportunity to create a strong body of work in science journalism by publishing or broadcasting stories in their respective media outlets. The larger objective is to enable and enrich public understanding of science and related policy issues through these stories.

Five selected fellows will be invited for a two-day orientation workshop in New Delhi in April 2019. They will have the opportunity to connect with science and communication experts and mentors to discussed nuanced science writing and communication as well as the means and methods of impactful reportage.

Fellowship: The Fellowship is meant to cover expenses incurred for field travel, research and writing/broadcasting. This will be paid in two instalments; one at the beginning of the fellowship and the other on completion of publishing the required number of stories.

Fellowship Themes: Applicants can choose to focus on life sciences, biomedicine, application-based or basic biological research, and health. Media fellows can look at ongoing research in laboratories and centres of higher learning, scientific conferences or peer reviewed science and elsewhere for their story ideas during the fellowship. Possible story sources and mentors will be discussed during the workshop.

Eligibility: Professional journalists, including freelancers, in print, broadcast or new media in English or any Indian regional language, with at least three years of demonstrated experience in writing on science or related issues. Fellows who choose to write in a regional language should be proficient in written English too.

Duration of Fellowship: Six months, during which fellows must complete their submissions.

Fellowship Criteria: Fellows must produce at least five stories (each 1000 words or more) on the selected topic. Two short news items (500 words each) will constitute one story, and if a fellow opts to produce only news stories then ten stories will be required for completion of the fellowship. Similar guidelines will be in place for selected radio, television or multimedia journalists.

Application Deadline: 28 March 2019. Selected applicants will be notified within 15 days.

To apply for the Fellowship, please complete the online application form here: www.bit.do/ISMF2019. Please use only Google Chrome to submit this form.

For enquiries, please write to ISMfellows@gmail.com

Why ‘hike fellowship’ is a recurrent war cry for India’s researchers

Microbiologist Yogesh Chawla was part of the team that led the protests demanding hike in research fellowships in India during 2014-15. He rues in this guest post that not much seems to have changed in the country’s treatment of its research scholars since.

Yogesh Chawla

Following months of agitation by young scientists across India, the Indian government announced a hike in fellowships for research scholars earlier this month (February 2019). The stipends for junior research fellows (JRFs) were raised from a monthly Rs 25,000 to Rs 31,000, and that for senior research fellows (SRFs) from Rs 28,000 to Rs 35,000.

The research scholars have been protesting every few years to bring to light the abysmal pay parity, delayed and irregular disbursal of stipends, semester fee charges, and scarcity of fund allocated to science. The protests typically last for a few months reaching a crescendo on social media, and finally end with the science administration promising and then delivering a hike. India’s current government has enhanced their fellowship twice, almost doubling it from Rs 16,000 in 2014 to Rs. 31,000. It is a step, albeit small, in the right direction to bridge the gap in pay disparity of researchers.

However, the challenges facing India’s research scholar are far from over.

History of protests

During the fellowship hike movement of 2014-15, five of us scholars represented the protesting researchers in negotiations with the institutional authorities and government representatives. Several issues were discussed at length then, and still remain unresolved. Policy changes that were mooted then to streamline the system are still pending. A hike is not the only thing to fulfill the vision of better scientific rigour or improvement in the quality of Indian science. One of the objectives of such fellowship hikes is to attract talent to science disciplines by providing economic emoluments parity, laurels, awards and recognition.

The need of the hour is to have a multi-pronged approach to bring Indian science at par with world standards, to make Indian research relevant to the country’s needs, to transform India into a torch bearer of scientific excellence, technological advancements and innovations. These are important but imposing challenges for India and the country’s science policy is a key tool to overcome them.

Researchers gherao Indian science administrators during a protest to demand hike in fellowships in July 2014.

Rewarding merit

How do we bring rigour into India’s science? Can we have measures to reward scholars – the backbone of our scientific quest – who work tirelessly beyond stipulated office hours? Will rewarding the first author for publishing quality research be a game changer?  Publishing in high impact journals may not be the ultimate or accurate parameter of judging the quality of science but it is a practical parameter. A thorough scientific study in a reputed journal does suggest a work of excellence. Impact factors, citations or the impact of research on problems specific to India can be taken as criteria to judge merit. The overarching idea is to reward hard work, judged and scrutinised for scientific quality and rigour by independent peers. This way, we would be able to bring equity to the hard and diligent work. Any scientific misconduct or falsification of data should be made punishable.

Currently, Indian authors publish around 100,000 articles every year but their average citation impact is around 0.8, which is nearly half of the citation impact of articles published from USA or UK (~1.6)1. Rewards for and equity to good quality work would boost the overall scientific rigour. It wouldn’t cost much to the government exchequer but would certainly impact the morale and enthusiasm of researchers favourably. It could be a robust way to kick start ideas, innovations and excellence. Likewise, universities, departments and institutions should be rewarded for their scientific excellence.

However, when impact factors of publications become the criteria for a reward, they potentially exclude scholars and scientists looking at grass root problems (that may not be very popular research areas but are high on social benefits) or high impact work in a scientific journal. Scholars of such fields should be recognised through other laurels and awards.

Another policy change that may ensure a respectable life for senior researchers wanting to continue research in India is to enhance the fold increase of the fellowships between JRF to SRF and SRF to the postdoctoral level (say, around 1.4 to 1.5-fold of their previous level). SRF and postdoctoral researchers are generally in their late 20s or early 30s, a time they typically start or support a family.

Scholars who earn their PhDs in Indian institutions should be rewarded since many JRFs leave Indian PhD programmes to pursue PhDs in foreign labs or institutes. JRF fellowship shouldn’t be a stop-gap arrangement for aspiring graduates of foreign universities. A JRF scholar who continues research in India and gets promoted to SRF should be rewarded with a healthy raise in stipend to pursue research in India. The same logic applies to postdoctoral fellows.

The long-debated issue of brain drain could have a solution in a good postdoctoral fellowship with independent grants. The Chinese initiatives “Thousand Talents Plan” and “Thousand Youth Talents Plan”2are great examples of how to attract scholars to postdoctoral positions through government grants and fellowships and to pursue them to return and serve home institutions. This way, trained and qualified PhD scientists could fuel the nation’s economic and scientific growth and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cry of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisaan, Jai Vigyaan and Jai Anusandhaan” would sound real.

  1. India by the numbers
  2. China’s plan to recruit talented researchers

(Yogesh Chawla is a PhD from the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi and currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Weill Cornell Medical College, New York. He can be contacted at yogi1chawla@gmail.com.)

Announcing winners of NI Photo Contest 2018

The winners of the fifth edition of Nature India photo contest have now been chosen after a week of unprecedented activity on the Indigenus blog and our social media channels (Facebook and Twitter ), and brainstorming by a global jury comprising members of the Nature Research editorial and design teams as well as an independent vector-borne diseases scientist.

The photographs have been judged for their adherence to this year’s theme ‘Vector-borne diseases’, for their creative thinking, quality and print worthiness. They were also rated in part on the engagement they received on social media.

The winner of the Nature India photo contest 2018 is:

Sudip Maitifrom Kolkata, India

for his striking image titled ‘Safe from dengue’, a simple yet powerful message around prevention of vector-borne diseases.

Sudip Maiti

Sudip says this about his image:

Sudip Maiti

This two-year-old boy plays safely inside a mosquito net in Kolkata,West Bengal, India. Over 13,000 people were affected by the vector-borne disease in the State of west Bengal alone in the year 2017, while the official death count reached 30.

As a simple preventive measure, the use of mosquito net is widespread among the residents of this eastern metropolis.

In second position is:

Aditya Kanwal from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, Punjab, India

with his picture titled ‘The pretty side of mosquitoes‘ that beautifully brings out a not so known facet of the deadly vector. 

Aditya Kanwal

Aditya says:

Aditya Kanwal

Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals on Earth. They kill more humans than any other organism does. However, of around 3500 mosquito species, only a few are disease carriers. And only the females bite humans. Most mosquitoes don’t bother humans, and actually play a very important role in our ecosystem. Mosquito adults as well as larvae are important source of food for birds, amphibians and fishes. This means, eradicating them completely may drastically impact the food chain. Mosquitoes are also essential pollinators for many plant species and provide nutrition to some of them such as the pitcher plants.

Therefore, complete removal of mosquitoes may also have detrimental effects on several plant species. Some people argue that it won’t be long before other species occupy the niche. But it takes millions of years for organisms to co-evolve. So in case mosquitoes go extinct, it may take some more sacrifices and a long time for the ecosystem to stabilise.

What the world needs is smarter, targeted strategies to control only the disease-causing species of mosquitoes. Initial trials with genetically modified male mosquitoes, that are unable to carry a vector or produce lethal offspring when they mate, are showing promise. With all the funding that’s going into mosquito research, we may soon have a sane solution to tackle our biggest enemy with minimum collateral damage.

The third prize goes to:

Nitin Gupta, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India

for his image ‘Mosquito: an accidental killer‘ where he bravely clicked a mosquito feasting on a blood meal on his hand.

Nitin Gupta

Nitin says:

Female mosquitoes bite us because they need blood to nourish their eggs. The bite itself is not harmful: the tiny belly of a mosquito, seen in the photograph, can take no more than a few microliters of blood at a time, while the human body produces 10 times more every minute. What makes the bite dangerous occasionally is what the mosquito leaves behind, which could be a deadly parasite.

The photograph shows a female Culex mosquito gorging on my left hand, which I captured using a camera held in the right hand.

Congratulations to the winners!

The jury also wants to make special mention of the entries by finalists Preethi Krishnamoorthy, Kairamkonda Subhash and K. S. Praveen Kumar, all of whom gave tough competition to the winners.

The winner of the Nature India photo contest 2018 will get a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

These winning photos and those of 7 other finalists will be featured in a roving exhibition at four venues in India, details of which we will announce as we firm up these events.

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #10

Today we are announcing the last finalist of the Nature India photo contest 2018 — finalist number 10:

Preethi Krishnamoorthy, Project Assistant, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, India

Photo caption: Sting of death

Preethi Krishnamoorthy

Preethi captured this photo of a mosquito feeding on plant nectar, the mosquito’s main food (not blood, as popularly assumed), in June 2018 at Srirangapatna in Karnataka, India. She describes it thus:

Preethi Krishnamoorthy

Of the millions of animals known to mankind, no other animal has claimed as many lives as the ordinary mosquito. In India, the most common diseases transmitted by mosquitoes are  malaria, dengue, lymphatic filariasis, kala-azar, Japanese encephalitis and chikungunya, dengue being the most rapidly spreading vector-borne disease in the world. While the existence of these viruses and parasites are beyond our control, their spread via mosquitoes is accentuated by man-made climate change.

With the increase in global temperatures, we are creating more mosquito-friendly habitats. Mosquitoes are now spreading to higher latitudes and altitudes and spreading diseases to places where they never existed before.

Congratulations Preethi for getting into our top ten!

And with that we come to the end of our long list for the 2018 contest! The contest got us some wonderful entries from around the world. We are delighted to have received a wide variety of entries despite the tougher than usual theme in ‘vector-borne diseases, which called for more thought, creativity and originality.

Over the last ten days, we rolled out the top ten finalists of 5th edition of the Nature India photo contest 2018 in no particular order of merit. Watch this space as we announce the top three winners of the contest by the end of January 2019.

Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. Till then, promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.

The winner of the contest will get a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #9

Two more to go in the long list. Announcing the Nature India photo contest 2018 finalist number nine:

Kairamkonda Subhash, Research Associate, Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Lubbock, Texas, USA

Photo caption: A breeding haven

Kairamkonda Subhash

Subhash explains his photo thus:

Kairamkonda Subhash

At first look this picture looks too cluttered. But that is how these water-logged mosquito breeding places are! You can see both mosquitoes and their larvae in the image.

This water puddle was formed by accumulation of rain water in the buttress root network of a Gulmohar (Delonix regia) tree. The red colour, characteristic of the trees bright flowers and interestingly symbolising blood on which the mosquitoes feed, was created by drowned petals.

Regulating mosquito population is key to reducing the vector-borne diseases. The first step in this process would be to eliminate mosquito breeding havens like these.

Welcome to the top ten, Subhash!

The 5th edition of the Nature India photo contest is now rolling out its long list of top ten in no particular order of merit. The contest themed “vector-borne diseases” was announced in November 2018 and has received some fabulous entries from around the world.

Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. The final results will be announced sometime in late January 2019.

The winner of the contest will get a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

So watch out for our other finalists and feel free to promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #8

Rolling out finalist number eight in the Nature India Photo Contest 2018:

Rodrigo Nunes, Photographer, Brasília, Brazil

Photo caption: Fight against dengue

Rodrigo took this picture in January 2016 during a government awareness initiative in Brazlândia, an administrative region in the Federal District in Brazil. Rodrigo explains his picture thus:

Rodrigo Nunes

This photo was taken during an awareness campaign against Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmits dengue fever. The picture shows a health agent holding a test tube with the larva of Aedes Aegypti. The larva was found in the house of a resident in Brazlândia city. 

Brazil has reported cases of dengue in Acre, Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais, and São Paulo. Peak transmission is reported during the rainy season from January to May. During 2015-16, the country also suffered a Zika virus epidemic spread mainly by the same mosquito Aedes Aegypti. The epidemic was contained through massive multi-agency action in November 2016 but continues to feature high on the national public health priorities of the country.

Congratulations on getting into top ten, Rodrigo!

The 5th edition of the Nature India photo contest is now rolling out its long list of top ten in no particular order of merit. The contest themed “vector-borne diseases” was announced in November 2018 and has received some fabulous entries from around the world.

Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. The final results will be announced sometime in late January 2019.

The winner of the contest will get a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

So watch out for our other finalists and feel free to promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #7

Time now to announce the Nature India photo contest 2018 finalist number seven:

K. S. Praveen Kumar, Senior Photographer, Deshabhimani Daily, Kozhikkode, Kerala, India.

Photo Caption: Death in the times of Nipah

K. S. Praveen Kumar

During the first ever outbreak of the bat-borne Nipah virus in south India in May-June 2018, Praveen was on assignment from his newspaper to capture the tragedy that struck the Kozhikode district of Kerala. Praveen says: 

K. S. Praveen Kumar

This is the picture of a burial team in protective gear. As bodies of Nipah victims can be extremely infectious, the physical remains of one such victim are being taken for “safe burial” under the Ebola protocol at the Kozhikode Kannamparambu cemetery in Kerala.

When the whole of the district kept indoors, fearing the deadly Nipah virus and international tourists skipped flights to Kerala, my intention was to bring this deadly disease to light. The Nipah virus outbreak killed 17 people in the two affected districts of Kozhikode and Malappuram.

This emerging infectious disease spreads through secretions of infected bats. It can spread to humans through contaminated fruit, infected animals or through close contact with infected humans.

This picture of burial workers clad in protective gear that resemble spacesuits captures the grimness and horror associated with this deadly disease. Paradoxically though, despite the fear, grief and despair, relatives’ pleas for a traditional burial brought to fore the need for better awareness for such emerging infectious diseases.

Wonderful capture Praveen, and welcome to our top 10!

The 5th edition of the Nature India photo contest is now rolling out its long list of top ten in no particular order of merit. The contest themed “vector-borne diseases” was announced in November 2018 and has received some fabulous entries from around the world.

Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. The final results will be announced sometime in late January 2019.

The winner of the contest will get a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

So watch out for our other finalists and feel free to promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #6

Time now to announce the Nature India photo contest 2018 finalist number six:

Devinder Toor, Assistant Professor, Amity Institute of Virology and Immunology, Amity University, Uttar Pradesh, India

Photo Caption: Exposed

Devinder Toor

Devinder Toor took this image of a sick man in need of immediate medical attention to highlight the neglect that many patients affected with vector-borne diseases face. He explains this image he shot in the summer of 2016, thus: 

Devinder Toor

Poverty, lack of hygiene, high temperature and humidity force a large number of people in India to sleep in open, unhygienic and dangerous places, exposing them to vector-borne diseases. Also, apathy of civic agencies in maintaining cleanliness further aggravates the spread of these diseases.

I clicked this picture while roaming around in India’s eastern metropolis of Kolkata. I saw this sick man waiting for attention on the railway tracks as people went about their usual business. From the flyover across the tracks, where I was was standing, it presented a grim picture of poverty, neglect and mortality due to vector-borne diseases. 

Congratulations on getting into top 10, Devinder!

The Nature India editorial and design teams will shortlist the top three from the ten stunning images we are rolling out now in no particular order of merit. Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. The final results will be announced sometime in late January 2019.

The winner of the Nature India photo contest 2018 will receive a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

So watch out for our other finalists and feel free to promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #5

And here is the Nature India photo contest 2018 finalist number five:

Aditya Kanwal, PhD student, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, Punjab

Photo caption: The pretty side of mosquitoes

Aditya Kanwal

Not all mosquitoes are evil. There’s another side to their story. Aditya Kanwal draws our attention to the wondrous side of these much-maligned vectors through this picture he shot in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, India in the summer of 2018:

Aditya Kanwal

Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals on Earth. They kill more humans than any other organism does. They can transmit parasites such as worms, fly larva, protozoa and viruses without getting affected themselves and cause deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya, yellow fever, filariasis, encephalitis, Ross River fever and Zika.

However, of around 3500 mosquito species, only a few are disease carriers. And only the females bite humans. Most mosquitoes don’t bother humans, and actually play a very important role in our ecosystem. Mosquito adults as well as larvae are important source of food for birds, amphibians and fishes. This means, eradicating them completely may drastically impact the food chain.

Mosquitoes are also essential pollinators for many plant species and provide nutrition to some of them such as the pitcher plants. Therefore, complete removal of mosquitoes may also have detrimental effects on several plant species. Some people argue that it won’t be long before other species occupy the niche. But it takes millions of years for organisms to co-evolve. So in case mosquitoes go extinct, it may take some more sacrifices and a long time for the ecosystem to stabilise.

What the world needs is smarter, targeted strategies to control only the disease-causing species of mosquitoes. Initial trials with genetically modified male mosquitoes, that are unable to carry a vector or produce lethal offspring when they mate, are showing promise. With all the funding that’s going into mosquito research, we may soon have a sane solution to tackle our biggest enemy with minimum collateral damage.

Congratulations Aditya for making it to top ten with a unique perspective to the mosquito story!

The Nature India editorial and design teams will shortlist the top three from the ten stunning images we are rolling out now in no particular order of merit. Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. The final results will be announced sometime in late January 2019.

The winner of the Nature India photo contest 2018 will receive a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

So watch out for our other finalists and feel free to promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.

NI Photo Contest 2018: Finalist #4

Time now to roll out the Nature India photo contest 2018 finalist number four:

Owais Rashid Hakiem, PhD student, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, India

Photo caption: Nip them in the larva

Owais Rashid Hakiem

Owais Rashid Hakiem

Owais shot a series of pictures highlighting the menace of vector-borne diseases and probable solutions.

He took this picture of mosquito larva in the insectory of the National Institute of Immunology, Delhi, where they rear Anopheles mosquitoes to understand the molecular mechanism of progression of malaria. Owais says:

Plasmodium, a single cell parasite spreads to humans through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquito, also known as night-biting mosquito as it mostly bites between dusk and dawn.

The mosquito lays eggs mostly inside open containers. New vectors hatch when the containers are filled with water. Dirty surroundings, unsafe water and poor personal hygiene are some major socioeconomic factors that play a vital role in the spread of malaria. The key to prevent malaria and other such vector-borne diseases is cleanliness so as to scuttle any chance of the larvae to hatch. Not allowing water to accumulate in open containers and other spaces within the house, or in the backyard, is a key first step towards fighting the menace, or as they say, in nipping it in the bud.

Welcome to the top ten Owais!

The Nature India editorial and design teams will shortlist the top three from the ten stunning images we are rolling out now in no particular order of merit. Nature India’s final decision to chose the winner will be partly influenced by the engagement and reception these pictures receive here at the Indigenus blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. To give all finalists a fair chance, we will consider the social media engagement each picture gets only during the first seven days of its announcement. The final results will be announced sometime in late January 2019.

The winner of the Nature India photo contest 2018 will receive a cash award of $350, the second prize is worth $250 and the third $200. Photographs will be judged for novelty, creativity, quality and printability by a panel of Nature Research editors and photographers alongside a leading Indian scientist working in the area of vector-borne diseases. The winner and two runners-up will receive a copy of the Nature India Annual Volume 2017 and a bag of goodies (including Collector’s first issues of Nature and Scientific American and some other keepsakes) from the Nature Research. One of the winning entries also stands a chance of being featured on the cover a forthcoming print publication.

So watch out for our other finalists and feel free to promote, share and like your favourite entries with the hashtag #NatureIndphoto.