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Dr Imran Pancha from the Department of Biology, SRM university – AP is recognised in Biotechnology among the top 2% scientists/researchers across the world By Stanford University Researchers. Recently an article has been published in PLOS Biology by Stanford University Researchers on the highly cited researchers in 22 different fields and their subfields. In the Biotechnology field, 1,074 scientists/faculty members were identified, and Dr Imran Pancha is one amongst them. From India, only 77 scientists/faculty members could achieve this honour, and Dr Imran Pancha is one among them. This is an admirable achievement for a young faculty from a nascent University to be in the top 2% scientists of the world. Dr P Sathyanarayanan, the President of SRM University-AP honoured Dr Pancha for bringing this scientific laurel to the university.

Overall, of the top 160,000 scientists from different fields of Science & Technology, India hosts 2,313 scientists/faculty members. This list comprises of the prominent and illustrious scientists from India.

Dr Imran Pancha is a young researcher working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology in SRM University-AP, Andhra Pradesh. He has obtained his doctoral degree from CSIR-Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute-Bhavnagar after graduating from Bhavnagar University. He has also worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Japanese Society for Promotion of Science, Japan before joining SRM University-AP.

Dr Pancha’s primary research focus is to produce renewable energy from microalgae. His team is trying to develop integrated microalgal bio-refinery to produce high-value compounds like phycobiliproteins, carotenoids along with biofuel and bio-fertilisers from microalgae. Apart from this, he is also interested to understand algal-bacterial interaction, particularly isolate and characterise the microalgae associated bacteria and finding their role in growth enhancement and inhibition in microalgae.

Who could have thought of implementing Blockchain in order to enhance cybersecurity before Ms Vyshnavi Garipelly? The answer is simple- No one. That is why Ms Vyshnavi has been able to secure a Guinness Record with her pioneering research “Using blockchain technologies implemented on cybersecurity”, which was published on International Conference on Recent Challenges in Engineering and Technology (ICRCET) on 30 October 2020. Ms Vyshnavi is currently in the final year of her Computer Science and Engineering undergraduate degree.

Blockchain enables security systems, deployed in organizations, to use distributed key public infrastructure to authenticate devices and users. Blockchain’s robust DNS entry approach can improve security by removing a single target that can be compromised. At the same time, it provides the ability to resolve single attack points and multiple targets, such as a database, network, or data centre, at a single access point, and provides the ability to resolve a single point of attacks while simultaneously resolving multiple target attacks, such as a server-sided attack. She has explored the possibility of Blockchain Technology into two significant areas of Cyber Security¬

1. Implementing Security in Private message
As conversational commerce becomes more popular, a lot of metadata is collected from customers during these exchanges on social media. While many messaging systems use end-to-end encryption, others are beginning to use Blockchain to keep that information secure. At the moment, most messaging apps lack a standard set of security protocols and a unified API framework for enabling “cross-messenger” communications. The emerging secure blockchain communication ecosystems tackle this issue and work towards creating a new system of unified communication. Blockchain is an excellent solution for that as it secures all data exchanges and enables connectivity between different messaging platforms. Many companies are looking at Blockchain to secure their personal and private information exchanged over chats, messaging apps and social media. They hope to make it into a secure platform with the help of Blockchain and impenetrable to foreign attacks. Ms Vyshnavi has improved the security through these three methods-

A. Improved PKI
PKI or Public Key Infrastructure keeps messaging applications, emails, websites and other forms of communication secure. But they all rely on third-party certification authorities to issue, revoke or store key pairs. These certification authorities can become an easy target for hackers with spoof identities, trying to penetrate encrypted communications. On the other hand, when keys are published on a blockchain, it leaves no scope for a false key generation or identity theft as the applications verify the identity of the person one is communicating with.

B. Intact Domain Name System (DNS)
The DNS is an easy target for malicious activities as hackers can bring down the DNS service providers for major websites like Twitter, Paypal and others. A Blockchain approach to storing these DNS entries can improve the security extensively because it removes that one single target which can be compromised.

C. Diminished DDoS attacks
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is an attack in which multiple compromised
computer systems attack a target, such as a server, website or another network resource, and cause a denial of service for users of the targeted resource. This forces the system to slow down or even crash and shut down, thereby denying service to legitimate users or systems. This problem can be solved by integrating Blockchain into decentralized solutions which can protect against such attacks. “Nowadays, multiple measures for security are being developed and adopted, and yet threats develop and adapt itself accordingly. However, with Blockchain, we now have a vast scope of ensuring that the data is safe,” says Vyshnavi.

2. Transaction security developed by COIN APP.
COINAPP is an easy-to-use cryptocurrency application for resource-constrained businesses, that are not currently equipped to handle the ledger information securely. COINAPP replaces third-party transaction vendors, and it keeps all transactional data between two peers encrypted. The boosted level of security helps companies to keep transparent records in a public sphere.

With the internet shrinking the world into a global village, more and more people are joining social media. The number of social media platforms is also on the rise. More social apps are being launched with each dawn as conversational commerce gains popularity. Vyshnavi’s research has a massive impact on society, as in the recent past, numerous attacks have been executed against social platforms like Twitter and Facebook. These attacks resulted in data breaches with millions of accounts being hacked and user information landing into the wrong hands. Blockchain technologies, if well implemented in these messaging systems, may prevent such future cyberattacks. COINAPP also has huge industry impact as it can be easily integrated with platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger etc. No matter where or how it is applied, the key factor in using Blockchain as a cybersecurity method is decentralization. When access control, network traffic, and even data itself are no longer held in a single location, it becomes much more difficult for cybercriminals to exploit. This research has the potential to strengthen security, decreasing vulnerability.

“Joining SRM University-AP was the best decision of my life. The continuous support from the faculty has completely moulded me into thinking more logically and creatively. It was wonderful to explore the possibilities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during the Semester Abroad Programme. I came across with success when I won some of the hackathons at Denver and California with the bounties. The opportunity to work on Blockchain and cybersecurity knocked on my door while I was staying here,” exclaimed Vyshnavi.

Ms Vyshnavi is now willing to take her research further. She always wanted to do something that can contribute to society meaningfully. Hence, she is looking for industry collaboration to implement her research in the real world to make a difference.

Enhancing surveillance by enabling CCTV cameras to produce actionable insights using AI-ML technology

With the vision of bringing surveillance cameras to life, Sourav Sanyal, Miran Junaidi, and Saurabh Ghanekar, 4th year, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, SRM University-AP, Andhra Pradesh, founded OurEye.ai, an automated, end-to-end video intelligence solution for enterprises to monitor surveillance camera recordings, leveraging pre-existing CCTV-IP infrastructure. The young entrepreneurs extend their gratitude to SRM AP for shaping their career from the inception of their erudite journey with the university. Miran says, “The pioneering active learning pedagogy at SRM AP in place of a memory-based rote learning method enabled us to evolve as learners. Also, the approachable management at SRM AP supported and encouraged our ideas, steering us to the path of success. Today we feel honoured for achieving the ability to give back to the university that made us. We have the best talent at SRM AP and have employed 6 students on a part-time role.”

The idea of starting a company infused with innovative technology was instilled among the students by the student-run technological club of SRM AP, Next Tech Lab. Miran narrates, “ SRM AP gave us something that no other university has, which was Next Tech Lab. I met my batchmates, the co-founders of OurEye, at Next Tech Lab, where we built so much every day round the clock while having fun with technology. We could not be more grateful for the opportunity and freedom that we got at the lab. Also, SRM AP has Introduced us to mentors like Adithya and Anshuman, founders of Next Tech Lab, who have been there for us every single day and helped us in developing a problem solving and curious mindset.”

Along with sponsoring over 5 international conferences, SRM AP enabled the brilliant students to study a semester at the University of California, Berkeley as part of the Semester Abroad to broaden their horizon of knowledge. The trio envisioned this start-up while they were pursuing their semester at UCB. Miran remembers that when he lost his mobile phone in a park, they had to wait for 10 days for the CCTV supervisor to analyze the cameras. The three students identified that capital expenditure by businesses on setting up cameras is huge and return on investment is low. This drove them to ideate a platform that will send real-time notifications to the supervisors through embedded Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology. OurEye enables businesses to deploy a remote auditor/quality controller through existing cameras. Based on industry requirements, the platform is programmed to observe and monitor, producing actionable insights to improve the business operations and scale.

Initially, the students commenced their journey by showcasing their platform in international hackathons. Recalling, Miran says, “The biggest challenge was to raise funds as it entails the daunting task of sharing your idea and vision with the rest of the world.” OurEye received $35000 from Sanjay Mehta led 100X.VC, and currently, comprises of 23 team members including the 3 co-founders. Being used by 11 companies across 17 outlets, the start-up generated a revenue of Rs. 1.7 million in the recent financial year. The students inform, “We’re learning so many new things and growing so very fast. We are now attempting to raise a new round of funds from foreign institutional venture capital. We also plan to add more features to the platform, hire a sales team to expand the client base to hospitals, schools, and commercial spaces. Very soon after the pandemic, we would be opening an office in Bangalore that would house 35 engineers, and other employees.”

Dr Goutam Kumar Dalapati, Associate Professor, Department of Physics, SRM University-AP, Andhra Pradesh, published a research paper “Improvement on Photoresponse Properties of Self-Powered ITO/InP Schottky Junction Photodetector by Interfacial ZnO Passivation” in the reputed Journal of Electronic Materials, Springer. Photodetection has emerged as the key technology in contemporary science because of their wide range of applications in daily life and in industry, including astronomy, surveillance, environmental monitoring, machine vision, and cameras in smart phones. Commercial photodiodes should meet the criteria of high charge carrier mobility, small exciton binding energy, and higher stability. This intrigued Dr Goutam to indulge in the study of photodetector which is essential to improve several electrical parameters such as low power consumption, and higher sensitivity.

In this research, Dr Goutam developed a high-performance photodetector using Indium phosphide/indium tin oxide (InP/ITO) semiconductor metal junction. He explains, “Photodetection in semiconductors follows the principle of generating electron-hole pairs under incident light higher than or equal to its bandgap. In Schottky type photodiode, at thermal equilibrium, the Fermi levels of the metal and the semiconductor are equalized, and a transfer of electronic charge occurs from the semiconductor to the metal. Moreover, these charge transport properties can be simply tailored by compositional engineering, which provides plenty of space to modulate the performance metrics of the photodetectors. During my research, the atomic layer deposition of zinc oxide (ZnO) on the InP surface was found to increase the valence band offset for current conduction in the photodiode. Photoresponse properties were believed to improve through effective hole blocking by the ZnO interface layer which further prevents the surface recombination of photo-induced generated electron-hole pair. Through my research, I deciphered that the ITO/ZnO/InP photodiode exhibited a maximum photoresponsivity of 44.2 mAW−1 under a 520 nm laser irradiation with an illumination power of 1 μW at the zero bias voltage.”

For the successful implementation of the proposed ITO/ZnO/InP photodiode in the manufacturing levels, significant efforts are essential. Dr Goutam acknowledges that device to device variability must be addressed which arise from the deposition condition of the ZnO layer by atomic layer deposition. Surface defects reduction and selection of charge collecting electrodes must be optimized to improve the performance of the photodetector. Thus, Dr Goutam will dedicate his future research work to study patterned 2D graphene-based electrode to improve the performance. Also, n-type 2D MoS2 and hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) passivation will be studied by him on the III-V semiconductor surface for better photoresponsivity.

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