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New Faculty Introduction

We are delighted to welcome Prof. Amber Jain to the IIT Bombay family. He joined the Department of Chemistry in March 2018.

He earned an integrated master’s degree from IIT Kanpur and holds a PhD. from University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA. Talking about his professional experience, he has been a researcher after his studies, working as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania(USA).

Talking about his research interests and professional experience, he says that he is interested in simulating reactions on a computer, with motion of all atoms explicitly present. Typically in these simulations, it is assumed that there is no transfer of energy between the electrons and nucleus. This (Born-Oppenheimer approximations) assumption is sometimes not valid, for example in photosynthesis, sunlight initially provides energy to electrons in the leaf, and these electrons then transfer the energy to the nuclei of the leaves. This nuclear energy is what drives the photosynthetic reactions. This is where his research interests begin:  developing methods that can include the transfer of energy between electrons and nuclei accurately so that we can simulate reactions like photosynthesis (we still do not understand all the reactions and steps that occurs inside a leaf!).

There are several more such reactions where this method development is critical - catalysis, where the electrons of the metal interact with nuclei of reactants; controlling chemical reactions with lasers.

The other field he is interested in is to think about quantum mechanical behavior of protons. Often they do not behave as Mr. Newton would have thought they do, for example they can 'disappear' and 'reappear' somewhere else. (This actually happens in our DNA, causing diseases.)

Prof. Jain’s long term plans include both teaching and research. In teaching, in the long run, he is interested in testing and implementing new methods that have been scientifically shown to be better than 'normal' teaching. For example, allowing student discussions (in and out of lectures) help in retention of concepts. (He is quite glad about the presence of Parimal and Pramod Chaudhari Centre for Learning and Teaching, aka PPCLT, at IITB!)

Talking about his plans on engaging students inside and outside the classroom, he says, he has two plans he wants to try: (1) think pair share strategy in class. After 10-15 minutes of lecture, a question is provided to students. Students are asked to discuss among themselves and then answer the question. (2) Creating open-ended conceptual questions to be posted online. These ideally should be thought provoking, hopefully inducing discussions between students.

Apart from his research and teaching, he likes to play chess, badminton and table tennis. He reads a bit of novels and watches some TV whenever he gets free time.