In addition to my students at the Indian Institute of Science, our lab hosts and supervises the dissertations of students enrolled in other universities for Masters or Bachelors programmes. We also host students enrolled in PhD programmes in other universities in India and abroad, and provide both academic inputs and office/ laboratory space for their work. Note that there are several layers of permits if you are a foreign national. Long conversations about ecology and biogeography are part of the deal.
Archana Bali, 1978 - 2014
Archana Bali was the first student to approach me for supervision on a Masters dissertation. From the first batch of the Masters in Wildlife Conservation at NCBS, Archana was studying mammals on coffee estates. Dr. Ajith Kumar, the Director of the programme and a mammalogist, was her primary supervisor, so there was no problem there. But Archana was also determined to study policy - how various laws affected conservation on these estates. I remain unsure as to why I became her mentor in this endeavour, but then, no one could say 'No' to Archana. Having coaxed all sorts of information out of estate managers and owners for her thesis, she left for the University of Alaska, Fairbanks as the first George Shaller Fellow for a PhD on human-caribou systems in the context of climate change. She worked with indigenous peoples from Alaska to Quebec and produced the 'Voices of the Caribou People' an award winning film. Archana was a star in every way. Tragically, Archana was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013. After a long battle that she fought with courage and cheer that only she could muster, she passed away in 2014. All those who knew Archana will remember her as one of the most cheerful, caring and irresistibly charming persons they will ever meet. Her passing robbed her family and the community of a champion and a friend.