Doing the science talk!

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | PRIYANKA SHANKAR
Published Nov 8, 2017, 12:16 am IST
Updated Nov 8, 2017, 12:16 am IST
Ajit Johnson, a scientist, writer and artist from Tamil Nadu is working on scientific communication and protecting human species.
Ajit Johnson
 Ajit Johnson

As a doctor I could only treat a disease while as a scientist I might be able to eradicate them,” begins Ajit Johson in an optimistic note when asked why he chose to become a scientist. Hailing from Nagercoil a beautiful small town in Kanyakumari, this young scientist is making a change in the field of science, communication and illustrative art. Currently residing in Edinburgh, Ajit is a researcher who works in molecular science and is completing his PhD at the University of Edinburgh.

Growing up with a love for solving puzzles, it became an addiction for Ajit. “I used to sit for hours, fight, cry, think and do everything while solving a puzzle but I used to finish it. When I grew up I realised that the biggest puzzle was the Universe with many unanswered questions. That’s how I landed up being a scientist, solving some unanswered questions!” says the 29-year-old.

 

While he is working with gene cells in the lab for hours, looking to eradicate cancer and many incurable diseases, Ajit believes that it is essential for all scientists to communicate to the public. He elaborates, “I saw a post on Facebook that read, ‘Cancer is not a disease, it is a business’. We have not taken out enough time to talk to the public about the research progress and its difficulties. I believe that when scientists communicate directly with the public, they can make people understand science without unnecessary assumptions, exaggerations and misinformation that has overrun the internet.”

To bring a solution to this, he started an e-platform — The Surg. With the objective that science needs its own platform, The Surg has short videos of the progress that scientists have made, articles and more run by volunteers from students to professors around the globe. “Using social media for science is great, but it also means that you are competing with videos of cute cats. We all know who is going to win,” says Ajit on a sarcastic note. He adds, “The platform will have thousands of researches that are not exaggerated and are exact, along with the limitations and the progress can be monitored. We have created over 90 videos so far which have been viewed over 20 million times.”

Ajit is also an activist. He campaigned through illustrative art for causes such as tech addiction and acid attack. “I generally invite myself into voicing for social issues. I had previously spoken out about tech addiction, net-neutrality, acid-attack and more recently the jallikattu issue. The tech addiction series, titled ‘This Generation’ was the one that became an internet sensation and got internationally recognised. To be honest, I did not expect that. I was overwhelmed, humbled and happy to see a lot of people taking it sportive.”

When asked if he’ll come back to India anytime soon, the youngster replies, “That’s a definitive yes. There is no place like home. My goal is to make significant scientific contribution that will improve the patients’ quality of life.”

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