Gopika Kottantharayil Bhasi from Thrissur, Kerala, has become the first recipient of Shah Rukh Khan La Trobe University PhD Scholarship, which was named after the superstar last year. Bhasi is a young researcher who has been working on farming practices through animal science, ecology and molecular studies. She was chosen for the four-year scholarship from over 800 Indian women who had applied.

“Through my research, I know I will be contributing to improving agricultural science in India. Protecting our honey bees is vital to food production and I’m so excited for the opportunity to be working with leading scientists conducting cutting-edge research,” Gopika said.

Khan was conferred with an honorary degree by the Australian university last year after which the scholarship got its name. The scholarship is granted to female Indian candidates for research in health, sport, information technology, cybersecurity or engineering. The recipient is entitled to receive a sum of 200,000 Australian dollars (Approx Rs 93,88,341.25).

Protecting our honey bees is vital to food production and I’m so excited for the opportunity to be working with leading scientists conducting cutting-edge research. –  Gopika Bhasi

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“I’m a staunch believer in education and I would like to congratulate Gopika. The way forward for everyone is educated and there’s never an end to education,” Shah Rukh said. “Empowering and educating women is key and the world goes forward with educating women. I think education in India or anywhere else in the world is a step forward. I admire Gopika’s dedication and determination. This scholarship will enable her to travel to La Trobe in Melbourne, Australia where she will pursue her dreams of helping to improve India’s agriculture sector,” he added.

The award was given at an event in Mumbai which was treated as the curtain raiser to the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne going to happen in Melbourne for the 11th year. “I am ecstatic about the initiatives we have taken, especially our association with La Trobe University. Having Mr Khan support a young researcher’s dream is a step towards us collectively furthering our social responsibilities. I and all of us at IFFM wish Gopika the very best,” said Mitu Bhowmick, festival director.

Gopika will be joining La Trobe’s research team who are discovering new techniques to protect the world’s honey bee population from viruses, pollutants and declining diversity in flora. She will research a field-deployable diagnostic test for honey bee viruses and with the aim of developing therapies to aid honey bee health.

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A graduate from the University of Calicut, Gopika has a passion for animal health, having grown up in a farming family and researched the management of Asian elephants in Kerala.  For the past year she has been managing her family’s poultry farm, while her father recovered from heart by-pass surgery. During this time Gopika researched the impacts of feed, water, diseases and climate on livestock for food production.

I admire Gopika’s dedication and determination. This scholarship will enable her to travel to La Trobe in Melbourne, Australia where she will pursue her dreams of helping to improve India’s agriculture sector

La Trobe Chancellor, John Brumby AO said the University looked forward to welcoming Gopika to start her PhD. “It is highly appropriate that a scholarship created to recognise Mr Khan’s humanitarian and social justice work to inspire positive change in the world is now about to change Gopika’s life forever,” Brumby said.

Picture Credit- Wion

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