The Prof Satish Dhawan Young Engineer Award was conferred on Dr K Balakrishna, an Associate Professor of Geology at the department of Civil Engineering, Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal in Bangalore on Thursday. The award, instituted by Karnataka government, carries a cash award of Rs 50,000, a citation and a memento.
Dr Balakrishna was chosen for the award for his contributions and achievements in the area of earth sciences for the year 2011. He is the first one from MIT, Manipal Academy of Higher Education to bag the award, established in 1996.
The award was presented by Emeritus Professor and former Director of IISc Bangalore Prof G Padmanabhan at the Satish Dhawan Auditorium of IISc. IISc Director and Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST) president Dr P Balaram, Principal Secretary to the ministry of IT, BT and S&T, Mr ISN Prasad, Dr MS Mohan Kumar Secretary KSCST and Executive Secretary Dr Prithviraj were present during the function.
Dr Balakrishna has worked on the geochemistry of various Indian rivers to understand the weathering of rocks and its link to the Earth’s long-term climate change. Currently he is working on the chemistry of Nethravati and Swarna rivers, to investigate the impact of anthropogenic pollution on the river, and its ability for self-purification.
He has published about 50 research articles in scientific journals of repute, and in conference proceedings. He has got external research grants from MoEF and European Union through which he has developed a state-of-the-art research lab at MIT. He is currently guiding five Ph D and M.Tech students. Dr Balakrishna has published about 25 popular science articles in Kannada newspapers and weeklies of Karnataka.
He has contributed towards popularizing earth sciences at the school level in Udupi and Manipal, by conducting programs like Earth Day and Ozone Day through funding from Ministry of Earth Sciences. He is actively collaborating with scientists from Japan, France, USA and China. This has led to opportunities for his Ph D and M.Tech students for short-term visits to overseas laboratories.