Ajith Ashokan


  • Mailing Address
    address1:Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Bhopal
    region:Madhya Pradesh

  • Telephone

  • Time Zone
    Indian Standard Time (GMT +05:30)

  • Gender

  • Organization
    Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal

  • Employment Status
    Government Agency

  • Role
    Scientist Mentor: I will mentor teams of students online

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I am a botanist, and I completed my Ph.D. in Biological Sciences in June 2020. An interest in angiosperm taxonomy motivated me for a Ph.D. aimed at understanding the phylogenetic systematics, historical biogeography, and character evolution in the genus Hedychium J.Koenig (ginger lilies: Zingiberaceae). My long-term association with Hedychium instilled a particular interest in the evolution of growth forms among tropical plant lineages. I am currently interested in the functional trait evolution of lianas (or woody climbers), a dominant growth form in tropical biomes. And I look forward to investigating their evolutionary patterns shortly.

  • Do you have previous experience in mentorship or educational outreach? Please list here (200 words)
    Immediately after my master's, I started working with an NGO where I got numerous opportunities to interact with farmers and other stakeholders on their involvement in ecosystem conservation. I also participated in nature walk or tree walk groups to interact with students of diverse age groups, discussing plant diversity. I also spent some time teaching biology (plant physiology and development, plant biochemistry, ecology, and evolution) lessons to undergrad students and other research aspirants before starting my Ph.D. During my Ph.D., I was TA-ing three courses (Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavioral Biology) that my thesis advisor offered. Apart from these, I also mentored three master's students and seven summer interns during their research internships. I believe that the best way to learn something is through teaching it to someone.

  • Which of the following best describes your career stage?
    Postdoctoral Researcher

  • Profile Question 1
    When and why did you decide to go into a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    I don’t remember exactly. But my interest in plants started when I was in high school. I developed my interest in plant sciences because of those mentors and colleagues who were passionate about plants and curious about their diversity. I can see that my interest in plants is growing every day, and I believe that this learning process will never end. Precisely, that is the best part of Science.

  • Profile Question 2
    What is the coolest thing you have discovered or learned about plants?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    To me, the fascinating thing about plants is their endemicity (or restricted distribution ranges). We know that plants form an intricate association with their environment (a union of both biotic and abiotic components). In large, a geographic area is often defined by the plants it encompasses. Certain parts of this planet are known to have a proportionally more number of plants that do not grow anywhere else. The narrow endemicity of specific plant lineages leaves us wondering why they are only found in a particular area and nowhere else on this planet. Therefore, I fell in love with the field of phytogeography during my Ph.D.

  • Profile Question 3
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    Each plant is unique in its means, and comparison often proves pointless. Although I have several personal favorites among plants, I am counting Baccaurea courtallensis as special here. This tree is endemic to the southern Western Ghats in India. The best thing about this tree is that it produces its flowers on the main trunk or old stem (known as 'cauliflory'). The densely clustered inflorescences cover the entire tree trunk and provide the tree with a characteristic display. Later, fruits replace these flowers, and they hang in clusters and attract a wide variety of animals.

  • Help represent the outreach efforts of your societies. Please click all those organizations you are a member of:
    American Society of Plant Taxonomists

  • How did you hear about PlantingScience?
    Dr. Vinita Gowda

  • Availability
    I am currently available for mentoring, please send me team match invitations

  • Preferred Student Level(s)
    Elementary School Students (5th grade)
    Middle School Students (Grades 6,7,8)
    High School Students (Grades 9,10,11,12)
    Undergraduate Students

  • Preferred Investigation Themes
    The Power of Sunlight (photosynthesis and respiration)
    The Wonder of Seeds (seed germination and growth)
    What about Pollen? (pollen and pollination)
    Plants Get Sick, Too!
    Tree-mendous Trees

  • Challenge, ELL, Honors
    Academically Challenged
    ELL - English language learners
    Honors or AP - Advanced Placement

  • In addition to English, I am comfortable communicating with students in the following languages:
    None of the Above

  • Videoconference Ability

  • Capacity: How many teams at a time are you comfortable working with?

  • Receive Email Updates
    Yes, send me emails

Recent Posts

shscasesweeneyspring2022 project 25 Ajith Ashokan

Hey, I am Ajith. I believe that you are getting to see a lot of flowers these days. Keep looking...

shscasesweeneyspring2022 project 1 Ajith Ashokan

Hi Maxwell,

Could you please provide me more details of this plant? I was wondering whether the flowers were collected much before the anther dehiscence and hence the anther theca appears empty. The mature pollen grains are easier…

shscasesweeneyspring2022 project 1 Ajith Ashokan

My name is Ajith and I am a tropical botanist from the Indian Subcontinent. I am really excited to be a part of this team.

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