A huge temnospondyl excavated in the Late
Triassic Gondwana Formation of India

I was born and brought up in a traditional Indian family in Kolkata, one of the four metropolitan cities in India. From an early age I was attracted towards Natural Sciences and wanted to pursue a career in STEM science, beyond the conventional career options of Indian society. Though I wanted to be a field geologist, I also had a fascination in biology and mathematics among other sciences. This combination led me to have an interdisciplinary mindset from an early stage. This drives me to incorporate technology, engineering , mathematical sciences in paleontology and work in STEM – as an integrated approach.

EDUCATION

I passed my Secondary and Higher Secondary Education from Carmel Convent with a combination of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry,Biology and Environmental Sciences in addition to two languages English and Bengali (my mother tongue). Later, having a knack for learning languages, I learned Spanish from the Indo-Hispanic Language Academy as well as from Ramakrishna Mission Institute School of Languages.

For my undergraduate studies, I enrolled under the University of Calcutta and completed my Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Geology Honours (Major in Geology) with Physics and Mathematics. From the beginning of my undergraduate studies I was fascinated with Geological field work and had a particular knack in mapping and studying deformation in rocks. This skill forms a basis for me today to study and incorporate taphonomy and deformation mechanisms in Paleontology.

Thereafter, I completed my Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Applied Geology from the University of Calcutta, which is one of the oldest and pioneering centers of Earth Sciences in India. My Masters thesis was based on Structural Geology and deformation in shear zones and was titled ” Deformation of a Granitoid Body within North Puruliya Shear Zone, near Bero, Puruliya District, West-Bengal“. For my Masters thesis I was under the supervision of Prof. Tapas Bhattacharyya, a pioneer in the field of Structural Geology and Tectonics. During my M.Sc. thesis I also specialized in extensive Geological mapping and field Geology and was particularly fascinated with the study of the mechanism of deformation. This I later incorporated in my Ph.D. work on retrodeformation and deformation mechanism of vertebrate fossils. It was during my Masters curriculum that I took a course in Vertebrate Paleontology and worked additionally on the topic “Non endemism of Indian vertebrates since Mesozoic“. I delivered a special lecture on this topic in my Masters colloquium under the guidance of Prof. Dhurjati Prasad Sengupta. It was then that I was attracted towards the huge domain of Paleontology and wanted to incorporate my specializations in deformation , geology and stratigraphy into Paleontology.

Mapping of a granitoid body in the North Puruliya Shear Zone, West- Bengal. India

CAREER

With the aim of incorporating interdisciplinary sciences into my field of work, I thought of pursuing a Ph.D. I was awarded the Junior Research Fellowship from the Indian Statistical Institute – an Institute of National Importance in India. I started my PhD under the guidance of Prof. Dhurjati Prasad Sengupta of the Geological Studies Unit of the Institute. During the first year of my Ph.D. I was rigorously trained in courses on multivariate and basic Statistics, Advanced Structural Geology and deformation, Advanced Sedimentology and Advanced Paleontology. Two years later in 2017 I was awarded the Senior Research Fellowship by the Indian Statistical Institute on the basis of my work.

My biggest strength lies in my expertise in field excavations of vertebrate fossils and field knowledge in Gondwana Geology. During my Ph.D. I have thoroughly revised maps of the Early, Middle and Late Triassic Gondwana Formations of all the four major Gondwana Basins in India. This was a very demanding and an equally rewarding work.

Geological Mapping in Middle Triassic Satpura Basin, India

My aptitude for quantitative analysis, Mathematics and Statistics informed my journey in PhD and resulted in my learning and mastering Geometric Morphometrics and Bayesian Phylogeny. My Ph.D. title, “Paleontology and Stratigraphy of the Triassic Temnospondyl Amphibians of India” covers the comparative anatomy and morphology and the first ever phylogenetic sorting of all Indian Triassic temnospondyls. Apart from traditional paleontological techniques I have worked extensively on histology, micro CT scanning, retrodeformation, bone taphonomy, biostratigraphy, paleobiogeography and paleoclimatic reconstructions. Parallel to working on temnospondyls I have also worked extensively on the study of coprolites and applied variety of engineering techniques on different Gondwana vertebrates from India.

Excavating fossils from Sandstone in the Early Triassic Panchet Formation, West Bengal, India
Lystrosaurus femur from the Early Triassic Panchet Formation, West Bengal, India

In addition to my Ph.D. work in Gondwana, I have recently started field work, exploration and excavation in the Eocene, Miocene and Jurassic marine formations of the Kutch region in Western India. The Kutch Basin, apart from hosting vertebrate fossils has an array of invertebrate fossils and foraminifera. I intend to enrich my expertise by working on these .

Whale Skull excavation from the Eocene Harudi Formation in Kutch, Gujarat, Western India.

Fossilized rib of a marine mammal from the Miocene of Kutch , Gujarat, Western India.

I am a staunch believer in integrated and interdisciplinary science, many of my works are collaborative which allows me to network with different national and international laboratories and with people of varied fields ranging from engineers, doctors, mathematicians and other paleobiologists.

HOBBIES

I am a singer trained in Indian Hindustani Classical music and very passionate about Western Classical music, and all forms of folk and country music. My favorite pastimes include reading, singing, amateur photography, quilling and origami.