Ashoka University today announced that a Chair has been endowed by two renowned Astrophysicists, Sunanda Basu and Santimay Basu, in their name for teaching and research in Astrophysics. The University will undertake an extensive search for the appointment of a distinguished Professor of Astrophysics to the Sunanda and Santimay Basu Chair in Astrophysics. The Chair-holder will lead the setting up of an Astrophysics Centre at Ashoka. The permanent Chair will be associated with the Physics Department at the University.
According to Prof Malabika Sarkar, Vice-Chancellor, Ashoka University, ”We are honoured to announce the Sunanda and Santimay Basu Chair in Astrophysics at Ashoka University. Their pioneering work in the area of ionospheric scintillation has been critical to the understanding of ionospheric space weather. The Chair is a step towards encouraging cutting edge work in Astrophysics and the setting up of Centre for Astrophysics to nurture Indian astrophysicists who would follow in their footsteps ”
Speaking on the announcement of Sunanda and Santimay Basu Chair in Astrophysics, renowned physicist Dr Sunanda Basu said ”I am delighted to announce an academic chair in astrophysics at Ashoka University. Over the past few years, Ashoka University has emerged as one of the leading liberal arts and sciences universities in India. I am confident that this position will create a nucleus for a vibrant centre in astrophysics at Ashoka University and encourage world-class research in the subject at the University.”
Sunanda and Santimay Basu are internationally recognized experts in the area of ionospheric scintillation, having made cutting edge research contributions to every aspect of the field encompassing diverse natural irregularity formation processes at high, middle and low latitudes, as well as artificial turbulence generation through high-power high frequency (HF) radio wave interactions. These scintillations, now known generically as ionospheric space weather, are caused by plasma density irregularities in near-Earth space, and are responsible for creating errors in space-based communication and navigation systems such as GPS. Such errors are much enhanced during magnetic storms on Earth, which follow transient events on the sun, like solar flares or coronal mass ejections.
This scientist couple started their research careers in India and continued in the US for many decades. Santimay Basu passed away in 2013 and Sunanda has continued her career, with greater emphasis on philanthropy within the US and in developing countries, including Africa. In 2014, she endowed a gold medal and prize in memory of her husband Santimay, to be given to an early-career scientist at the General Assemblies of the International Scientific Radio Union (URSI).