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August 11, 2017

Faculty Spotlight: Khorana Program for Scholars

During the summer of 2017, Dr. Makarand (Mak) Paranjape, associate professor in the Department of Physics and a former member of the India Initiative faculty committee, participated in the Khorana Program for Scholars. Founded in 2007, the Khorana program is supported by the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) and fosters scientific exchange between India and the United States by facilitating summer internships to Indian students, who work and study in a U.S. university research laboratory.

Dr. Makarand (Mak) Paranjape
Dr. Makarand (Mak) Paranjape

Dr. Paranjape hosted a Khorana scholar, Mr. Suchintak Dash, in Georgetown’s Nanoscience and Microtechnology Lab, a shared-user facility in Regents Hall directed by Paranjape. A native of Bhubaneswar, Suchintak will enter the final year of his five-year dual degree bachelor’s/master’s program at Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology School of Biotechnology in the fall. This summer, he is studying ion sensing in the Nanoscience and Microtechnology Lab.

Results with Broad Implications

Suchintak is making a highly selective and sensitive biosensor to detect potassium ions (K+) in body fluids other than blood. Suchintak’s initial results hold great promise for Dr. Paranjape’s broader work on diagnostics. “Potassium is a key electrolyte in the human body and is always part of a diagnostic blood workup since it is vital to the healthy functioning of cells, tissues, and organs. The work Suchintak did will contribute to my research program in blood-free diagnostics using wearable electronic patches,” explained Dr. Paranjape.

Rewards Beyond the Lab

Suchintak had a fantastic experience thus far, and he has enjoyed working with Dr. Paranjape’s team and meeting new students, both from the United States and from several other countries. "It has been my dream to study at Georgetown," Suchintak explained. "When I heard about the university back home, I was totally amazed." 

He's been most impressed by Georgetown's strong track record of academic excellence and innovation. In addition to working in a world-class university laboratory, he has enjoyed exploring Washington, D.C., and has visited several of the Smithsonian museums and U.S. government buildings.

Suchintak reported that he’s enjoyed a culturally smooth transition to life in the United States, and he’s enjoyed visiting neighboring states Maryland and Virginia, where he was introduced to American-style barbeque. He’s already hoping to return one day after he receives his degree.

The Khorana program aims to not only provide the opportunity for Indian students to experience world-class research facilities and to inform American students of India’s long-standing tradition of scientific innovation and inquiry, but seeks to foster relationships between the next generation of thought leaders and pioneers in STEM fields. Georgetown is proud to have taken a step forward to foster collaborative research and knowledge exchange between the United States and India.

Makarand Paranjape is an associate professor in the Department of Physics in Georgetown College, the director of the Georgetown Nanoscience and Microtechnology Laboratory, and a member of the India Initiative Faculty Advisory Committee. He joined the Georgetown faculty in 1998.