Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
Prior to Pondicherry University, Prof. Mathur has served in various reputed institutions including KIIT University, Bhubaneswar as a Vice-Chancellor. He is the visiting Professor/ Scientist at The Population Council, Rockefeller University, New York, Cleveland Clinic, USA, Westfalische-Wilhelms Universitat, Muenster, and Hamad Medical Centre, Qatar. He is the Former President, Section of Animal, Veterinary and Fishery Sciences, Indian Science Congress. He served on National Task Force on Bioinformatics and Infrastructure Facilities of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Department of Information Technology, Government of India. He is on the National Task Force on Fertility Regulation and Expanding Contraceptive Choices of Indian Council of Medical Research. He is on the Committee on Reproduction and the Environment of the Society for the Study of Reproduction, U.S.A. and was Vice-Chairman of Scientific Committee of Third Asia-Pacific Forum on Andrology, China.
Prof. Mathur has published over 185 scientific papers. He is the editorial board member, reviewer of over 100 national and international journals and also the recipient of Young Scientists’ Award, Asutosh Mookerjee Memorial Award, Rockefeller Foundation Special Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, Rockefeller Foundation Biotechnology Career Award, INSA-German Academy (DFG) Exchange Programme, Dr. P.N. Shah Memorial US Vitamin (India) Oration Award, ICMR International Fellowship Award for Senior Indian Biomedical Scientist and Subhash Mukherjee Memorial Infar India Oration Award, Dr. K.K. Iya Memorial Oration (National Dairy Research Institute, India.
Prof. Mathur’s experience in the education sector
I entered research in 1976 and completed my Ph.D. programme in 1980 from Banaras Hindu University. I was a recipient of research fellowships directly from CSIR. I have been teaching since 1982 at Kurukshetra University and Pondicherry University since then. I have more than 36 years of teaching experience. Between 2015 and 2017, I was Vice-Chancellor of KIIT University, Bhubaneswar. I have a great experience as a teacher. It is so satisfying to see your students performing well in their lives. Academic freedom is very important. Power to influence young minds is a very important tool in the hands of a teacher. Most of the time a teacher makes an indelible mark on their students.
Prof. Mathur’s philosophy of leadership and his leadership style
I have headed this department several times. I try to help the students and motivate faculty by setting an example in front of them. This approach helped me building up a team and also to start several innovative projects and interdisciplinary programmes. I had served as Dean of the School of Life Sciences also. I founded Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics which offer courses in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.
Significant challenges faced by Prof. Mathur as the HOD of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Pondicherry University
In a young University like Pondicherry University, starting new and innovative courses such as Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology posed several challenges like making them acceptable, creating facilities and getting faculty recruited in these areas. Devising relevant syllabi and producing employable graduates have been a great challenge.
Curriculum of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Pondicherry University
The syllabi were devised after a lot of consultation with top academicians and industry personnel. Scientists from various research institutes and industry were also involved in teaching. A similar strategy I adopted at KIIT University, Bhubaneswar where I served as Vice-Chancellor.
Growth of students through placement opportunities available in Pondicherry University
The students get placed in various institutions and industries within India and abroad. Many of our past students are holding very good positions.
Prof. Mathur’s relationship with the students being the HOD, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the university
I make myself available to the students all the days. I also have been taking classes and counseling sessions at Pondicherry University and KIIT University.
Ideal school environment according to Prof. Mathur and how he encourages that kind of culture in Pondicherry University
I would like disciplined environment where students have thirst for knowledge and skills in addition to developing a positive attitude.
Goals in mind for Pondicherry University for the next few years
I would like to see our University figuring in top ten Universities in the country and also very high-ranking University in the world.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students
I would urge the students to dream big and keep themselves engaged to chase them. Never give up. Your life is not made up of DNA, protein and fat alone, but with time. Never waste it. Do not try to emulate others but live your own dreams. A small failure may be a prelude to big success.