ISP Delhi Bureau
Her journey into the academic world changed her perceptions and worldview of opportunities. Dr Evelin Heikham from Manipur, a botanist by career, is a star in the making who is investigating and documenting the immense scope of using biofertilizers in agriculture to save environments and to increase crop yield.
Evelin Heikham grew up in a small Manipuri village near the city of Imphal. She was academically inclined and developed a love for science as she evolved in her school life. She settled finally with her interest towards life sciences. One of her ardent dreams is to have a plant named after her, she said talking to ScioRio, an exclusive platform promoting science communication. She is on a mission these days to explore rich floral biodiversity in North-East India.
The young scientist Evelin grew up amid the insurgency problem in Manipur which was only worsening with time. She has to bear the burns of protests and mass unrest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and also the border tensions between Nagaland and Manipur. She struggled through her childhood with strangers confronting families with extortion demands.
She remembers her days at Tamphasana Girls’ Higher Secondary School full of protests, rallies and agitations. She left Manipur and reached Delhi for her higher studies. She took admission in Delhi University’s Khalsa College and life changed for her with her interests towards sciences getting wings. She completed her Masters in Botany and cleared the CSIR-NET exam to pursue her PhD under the guidance of Dr. Roopam Kapoor.
Prof Kapoor’s laboratory became her second home and started studying the beneficial effects of mycorrhizal fungi to plants that grow in extremely tough and infertile regions. Her work investigated how mycorrhizal fungi could be used as bio-fertilizers to help plants thrive in such stressful soil conditions.
Evelin is now a young Principal Investigator establishing her lab in a reputed institution in Arunachal Pradesh and is doing commendable work in exploring the hidden plant biodiversity of the North-East regions of India. Her areas of research are important to the nation as further studies and documents the scholarship around mycorrhizae affect the build-up of bioactive molecules in plants which are the by-products of plant metabolism and are known to show antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer properties. Her discoveries have a potential to revolutionise medicinal and agricultural applications of biomolecules from plants. Evelin presented her work to the international scientific community at a conference in Vienna, Austria.