UNE graduate honoured in India

Published 28 January 2009

nimbkarsingh.jpgThe Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, has presented a national award to a recent UNE graduate, Dr Chanda Nimbkar.

Dr Nimbkar is the Director of Animal Husbandry at the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in the Indian State of Maharashtra. At a ceremony in New Delhi last month she accepted the award for her leading role in an Indian research team that, through a 10-year project in collaboration with Australian scientists, has enhanced lamb production in Maharashtra.

As part of the project, Dr Nimbkar studied at UNE for her PhD degree in genetics, graduating in 2006. Her supervisors were Professor Julius Van der Werf, Professor Steve Walkden-Brown, and Professor Brian Kinghorn.

UNE was the commissioned Australian research institution for the project, which was funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. Professor Walkden-Brown led the Australian team, which included seven UNE scientists as well as several from CSIRO and the University of Melbourne. The project culminated in an international workshop in Maharashtra last November. For more information on the project and the international workshop, go to http://blog.une.edu.au/news/2008/11/.

The award presented at last month’s ceremony was the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Award for Science and Technology Innovations for Rural Development. NARI and the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) were the Indian collaborators in the project and, along with Dr Nimbkar, Dr Vidya Gupta of NCL received the award on behalf of her organisation.

“NARI, in collaboration with NCL, has successfully introduced the FecB gene in Deccani sheep to enhance lamb production,” the citation reads. “A new strain of Deccani sheep with higher productivity, called ‘NARI Suwarna’, has thus been developed. The FecB gene-carrier ewes produce twin lambs at every alternate lambing. This increase is high enough to bring about a substantial increase in the shepherds’ income. It is thus transforming the rural shepherds’ economy.”

Dr Nimbkar’s UNE supervisors expressed their pride and satisfaction with this official recognition of her work. “Chanda has always been very dedicated to her work and to the shepherds she works with,” Professor Van der Werf said. “It’s good to see a graduate apply her knowledge so effectively, and to the benefit of so many in the community that she comes from.”

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows the Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, presenting the award to Dr Nimbkar.