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Research Opportunities at the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics:


The National Centre for Radio Astrophysics of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (NCRA-TIFR) is the premier institute for radio astronomy in India, and one of the best in this field in the world. Research activities at NCRA-TIFR are centered on low frequency radio astronomy, with faculty members carrying out research in a wide range of areas, including solar physics, pulsars, active galactic nuclei, the interstellar medium, supernova remnants, the Galactic Centre, nearby galaxies, high-redshift galaxies, fundamental constant evolution, and the epoch of reionization. NCRA-TIFR operates the largest steerable radio telescope in the world, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, as well as the Ooty Radio Telescope, and offers challenging opportunities to work at the frontiers of astronomy and astrophysics, as well as in instrumentation development.

 

The Ph.D. programme: Doctoral studies at NCRA-TIFR:

 

NCRA-TIFR conducts a regular doctoral research programme for students interested in pursuing a career in research in astronomy or radio instrumentation; the Ph.D. degree is conferred by the TIFR Deemed University. Students are selected for the doctoral programme via three main avenues, the Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST), the IUCAA-NCRA Admission Test (INAT), and the TIFR entrance test (conducted by TIFR-Mumbai). All three selection methods are based on a written test and two interviews. The three exams are typically conducted every year in early December (TIFR test), early January (INAT) and mid-February (JEST), with the interviews in March of the following year (TIFR), early January (INAT) and late June (JEST). Students with M.Sc. degrees in Physics or Mathematics are eligible for the Ph.D. programme, while students with B.Sc. or B.E./B.Tech. degrees are eligible for the Integrated Ph.D. programme. All students admitted to the Ph.D. and Integrated Ph.D. programmes are provided with a scholarship, a research grant and an international travel grant over the period of their doctoral studies.

 

Research and training programmes for external students:


Besides the doctoral programme, NCRA-TIFR also runs a number of shorter term programmes for external visiting students. These include the Visiting Students' Research Programme (VSRP), the Students' Programme (SP), the Radio Astronomy Winter School (RAWS), the Radio Astronomy School (RAS), and the Pulsar Observatory for Students (POS).

 

The Visiting Students' Research Programme:

The VSRP is an annual summer programme for students entering the final year of a Bachelor's or Master's degree in Physics, Mathematics, Electronics or Engineering. The programme runs from the second week of May every year until the first week of July, with an application deadline in February. Selected students carry out a 2-month research project with an NCRA-TIFR faculty member. At the end of the project, students give a seminar on their research project and face two interviews. Based on their performance, outstanding students are pre-selected for NCRA-TIFR's doctoral programme.

 

The Students' Programme:

The SP is a more informal programme under which pre-doctoral (usually under-graduate) students may carry out a research project with an NCRA-TIFR faculty member for up to a year. Projects under the SP scheme may begin at any time of the year. Projects upto three months duration only require the agreement of an NCRA-TIFR faculty supervisor, while those extending beyond three months typically require a brief interview at the beginning of the project.

 

The Radio Astronomy Winter School:

The RAWS is an annual ten-day winter school for under-graduate students in the B.Sc. (Physics/Electronics/Mathematics) or B.E./B.Tech. streams. It is conducted jointly by NCRA-TIFR and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), under the aegis of the Radio Physics Laboratory (RPL). The RAWS takes place during the last two weeks of December every year, with an application deadline in the preceding September. During the RAWS, students learn the basics of radio astronomy and the working of radio telescopes through a set of lectures and hands-on radio astronomy experiments.

 

The Radio Astronomy School:

The RAS is a two-week bi-annual summer school on advanced radio astronomy, for doctoral and post-doctoral researchers in astronomy. It usually takes place in August, with an application deadline in April, and consists of a set of lectures on radio techniques, instrumentation and astronomy, as well as tutorials on the analysis of data from different telescopes, using standard packages.

 

The Pulsar Observatory for Students:

The POS is conducted jointly under the RPL by IUCAA and NCRA-TIFR at the Radio Astronomy Centre, Ooty. The POS consists of two parts. The first is a 2-day summer workshop (usually in June) in which pre-doctoral (again, mostly under-graduate) students are taught the basics of radio and pulsar astronomy, through lectures and hands-on experiments. This is followed by short observations of selected pulsars between June and December, by workshop participants with the Ooty Radio Telescope.

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