9:30 pm - Thursday November 5, 2015

US names mountain after Indian-American scientist

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Akhouri Sinha, adjunct professor in Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota, was recognised by US Geological Survey, which named the mountain Mt Sinha, for his work he did as an explorer in 1971-72.

Sinha was a member of a team that catalogued population studies of seals, whales and birds in the pack ice of the Bellingshausen and Amundsen Seas using US Coast Guard Cutters Southwind and Glaciers in 1972 and 1974.

The mountain was named by Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN) and the US Geological Survey.

Mt Sinha, a mountain (990 m) at the southeast extremity of Erickson Bluffs in the south part of McDonald Heights, overlooks lower Kirkpatrick Glacier from the north in Marie Byrd Land.

“Anyone can see the Mt Sinha, Antarctica on Google.com or Bing.com,” Sinha told in an interview.

“Show to the world that you are capable, don’t be afraid to contact people out in the field today, and grab every opportunity,” he said.

Sinha, who graduated with a BSc degree from the Allahabad University in 1954 and MSc degree in Zoology from the Patna University in 1956, said he was invited to conduct research on reproduction of Antarctic seals by the National Science Foundation Antarctic Programme.

He also taught in the Department of Zoology at the Ranchi College from November 1956 to July 1961, before coming to US.

“I went to Antarctica on two expeditions lasting for about 22 weeks on the US Coast Guard cutters, Southwind and Glacier, during 1972 and 1974, respectively,” said Sinha, who has published over 100 papers and has been teaching graduate level courses for almost 25 years.

Sinha says his forefathers migrated to Buxar in Bihar from Delhi after Nadir Shah of Iran invaded Delhi in 1739.

“I go to my village (Churamanpur) almost every year, preferably in February to escape Minnesota winter and to visit relatives and village friends and others.”

Recollecting his research experience in Antarctica, Sinha said during the four-month research session, he and his teammates surveyed animal populations from a Coast Guard ship.

“We were often dropped via helicopter atop vast sheets of pack ice to observe and capture resident fauna,” he said adding that once he was even attacked by predatory Skua birds near Palmer Station. “No guts, no glory.”

Sinha rues that the ice he once traversed has begun to disappear at an alarming rate.

Records of population sizes, types and behaviours created by Sinha and his teammates have established critical baseline data that remains relevant in today’s climate change debates.

The findings also constitute the first body of work to inform UN policy makers in population conservation efforts, he said.

The Indian-American scientist argues for a strong research collaboration between India and US in Antarctica.

“By partnering with USA, India could play very constructive role in Antarctica. This may begin a new era of much needed cooperation between the two countries,” he said.

Sinha said he had corresponded with Dr Syed Zahur Qasim, Secretary of the Department of Ocean, Government of India.

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