August 10, 2021
We always like to hear that our former trainees are progressing in their careers and so were pleased to get news of Dr Upendra Kumar, a microbiologist from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) – National Rice Research Institute (NRRI) at Cuttack in India, who we reported on in 2017. Dr Kumar completed three months of training with Dr Gupta Vadakattu, Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO and the project team at the CSIRO Microbiology Laboratories in Adelaide. The training focused on the application of molecular tools to understand the biological functions in agricultural soils.
“Since his visit to our shores, Dr Kumar seems to have been very successful in securing new projects and publishing scientific papers leading to receiving a number of awards,” said Dr Gupta.
Dr Kumar received two national awards from ICAR in 2020, awarded in July 2021.
The two national awards are of particular note. The first was the Lal Bahadur Shashtri Young Scientist Award, named in honour of the second Prime Minister of India who promoted the White Revolution and the Green Revolution in India. Dr Kumar was recognized as the Outstanding Young Scientist for 2020. His second prestigious award was as a member of the team which was awarded the Nanaji Deshmukh Award for outstanding interdisciplinary team research, named in honour of the respected Indian social reformer and politician.
“These awards again demonstrate the value of the Crawford Fund and participating Australian researchers in the training of early-career developing country scientists to quickly make major contributions to their nation’s food security and well-being,” said Dr John Radcliffe AM FTSE, who was chair of the SA Committee at the time of Dr Kumar’s training.
Dr Kumar recently contacted Dr Gupta with the news of his more recent work, the awards and the impact of the Crawford Fund supported training:
“Overall, this training has provided a good support to learn advanced molecular tools and also given opportunities to interact with a number of Australian scientists which helped me publish twelve papers in peer reviewed journals during 2016-2018.
“As a precursor for my recent awards, I had received Best NRRI Scientist Award 2017 and the AZRA Fellowship Award 2018 by ICAR-National Rice Research Institute and the Association of Zoological Research Associations, respectively.
“Through this training, I have acquired an enormous knowledge by which I could receive a full fledge project as principal investigator for year 2017-2020 and was also associated in three other projects.
“My association with Dr Gupta is still continuing in the form of a book chapter ‘Diversity of sulfur oxidizing and sulfur reducing microbes in diverse ecosystems’ in Springer Nature and a manuscript ‘Continuous application of inorganic and organic fertilizers over 47 years in paddy soil alters the bacterial community structure and its influence on rice production’ under review in Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment Journal,” wrote Dr Kumar.