PROFESSOR BALSWAROOP BHATT is proud to admit that “even from a tender age” Mathematics was his passion. Born in India, he earned a PhD in Fluid Dynamics from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, in 1976 and then pursued research in Fluid Dynamics and Bio Mathematics. He says, “For the last 20 years I have been trying to use Mathematics to understand the dynamics of some relationships and physiological flows”.
Through his supervision of students, Professor Bhatt has successfully mentored five PhD candidates here at The UWI to completion of research on topics that include fluid dynamics and mathematical models of crime. Now he is applying the models to understanding the dynamics of the stock market and cancer. He firmly believes Mathematics can benefit any area because prior to any endeavour – time management, budgets, even relationships – one must plan parameters and make some form of modeling to measure (and adjust accordingly) – which are mathematically based functions. Professor Bhatt says that mathematical modeling can reveal the stability or instability of systems, even marriage.
As a researcher and now emeritus professor, his intention is to support whoever needs his help academically. He wishes to further promote his field and, in his opinion, there are many more avenues for the application of mathematical concepts. Even in cancer treatment, he says, mathematical models can predict outcomes better than just the judgment of a doctor relying on his experience.
One highlight of Professor Bhatt’s career is that he was awarded an academic staff fellowship of the Commonwealth to do research at DAMTP, University of Cambridge, U.K. for a year where he produced two research papers. One was published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics which comes from Cambridge University and the other, QJMAM which comes from Oxford University.
Professor Bhatt loves both teaching and research. Together with his colleagues, the Department began to offer an MSc in Mathematics which had its first intake in 2005. He also implemented a programme to share further mathematical knowledge with school teachers and engineers in a course format. From 2006 to present he has organised three international conferences in the field. In 2004 he achieved professor status and in 2005 he became Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, (FIMA) based in the United Kingdom. Of this new title - ‘Emeritus Professor’ – he said he is honoured and looks forward to giving his services and assistance to anyone who needs help with mathematical modeling.
PROFESSOR GURMOHAN KOCHHAR first arrived at The UWI’s campus when there were 2000 students and when he retired there were 18,000. He specialises in the field of Mechanical Engineering and says he likes to tinker with things – trying to make then work, and has always liked working with his hands.
Professor Kochhar’s family came to Trinidad and Tobago as refugees from West Pakistan. His father worked in military engineering and this influenced his choice of career. As a scholar, he pursued his first degree in India, his Masters’ degree at the University of Wisconsin and his PhD here at The UWI. A student at The UWI from 1970 to 1976, he left to work in Canada as a professional engineer and then returned to become a lecturer. In 1996, he attained the title of professor. Indeed, Professor Kochhar has held the posts of Deputy Dean of Engineering, Dean of Engineering, Advisor to the Vice Chancellor, and then Deputy Principal.
Aside from making The UWI the home of his full-time academic pursuits, he says that this university has helped him to create his family home as well in that he met his wife on campus. “I got two certificates from UWI,” he says with a grin, “One is a PhD and the other is a marriage certificate. Both have no expiration date”. Professor Kochhar is also proud of his two daughters and his son and the fact that they are achievers – a doctor, a lawyer and an engineer.
The specialty field embraced by Professor Kochhar is Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (Thermal Sciences). His philosophy is you teach what you research and you research what you teach. In addition, he says that he loves his students and is supervising five MSc theses at present. His approach is to always reference the practices of the industry hand in hand with pursuing the theoretical research in order to comprehensively prepare students.
For him, the title of Emeritus Professor is indicative that, as he says, “My university which I have given all my life to has recognised me, and that recognition is going to be a lifelong recognition and I am very grateful for that”.
Regarding current endeavours, he has just reviewed a book for the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), an undertaking which speaks to his concern for the protection of green spaces. He says that as an engineer your job is to find a solution to the problems of people in the most cost effective way without harming the environment.
Years ago as Deputy Principal, some of his successes were air-conditioning the cafeteria and setting up the food outlets. He says, “I have always been very student-centred. I am here because of students not the other way around”.
Professor Kochhar, who has turned down lucrative opportunities for private consultancy, says that in life you make choices and you make them not just based on material gain. He says, “I am a person who likes to help and I think I have been able to do that in the university system. My satisfaction is in seeing my students do well”.
PROFESSOR VIJAY NARAYNSINGH has had a distinguished career that led to fellowships in several International Colleges, Reader in Surgery (1990), Personal Chair (1997), and Departmental Chair (2002) in the University of the West Indies. At age 42, he was one of the youngest recipients of the National Award (The Chaconia Gold) for service in Medicine to Trinidad and Tobago. In 2003, he was the first and only Caribbean Surgeon to be granted the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS England) without examination. He was also the first and only Caribbean Surgeon to be made an Examiner at the Royal College of Surgeons of England for their postgraduate surgical exams. In 1991, he was chosen by Medicine Sans Frontieres (Nobel laureate) to be one of five surgeons worldwide to sit on an international panel on colon trauma surgery (Brussels, Belgium). He was chosen as the surgeon to the Pope when John Paul II visited Trinidad and Tobago in 1985.
Internationally, Professor Naraynsingh has been a pioneer in the design of twelve new operations, never done in the world before. These procedures have all been recorded in the international surgical literature. In the Caribbean region, he has been credited with the many advances including: the first to perform kidney transplantation in 1988, carotid surgery for stoke under local anaesthesia in 1984, no colostomy surgery for left colon obstruction in 1985 and colon trauma in 1991 and extensive use of myocutaneous flaps in general and orthopaedic surgery from 1981 to 2010 in Trinidad and Tobago.
Professor Naraynsingh is an educator, community leader, mentor, scholar, adviser, author and surgeon. He has taught and administered programmes at The UWI for more than twentyfive years, and has started the postgraduate surgical specialties and sub-specialties in Trinidad and Tobago. His outstanding research accomplishments led to a prolific publication record and contribution to nationhood and public service. He continues to publish having authored 52 publications in peer reviewed journals in 2009 to 2012. On the basis of his published work, Professor Naraynsingh has been invited to lecture and sit on international expert panels. He has also supervised and mentored over fifty colleagues on their first scientific publication and training contributed to the careers of some fifteen specialist surgeons who are now employed at the highest level at home and abroad.
Professor Naraynsingh has a distinguished record of public service. He has led outreach activities beginning since graduation from medical school. He has founded the Avatar Medical Auxiliary which provides access for the underprivileged to medical and surgical care. To further this goal, on 6 separate occasions, he set up activities to provide 108 patients with free surgical treatment. He was also the Trinidad and Tobago consultant surgeon for the Kids First programme for underprivileged children in Guyana.
For more than 30 years Professor Naraynsingh has shared his secrets of success with young students through youth groups, holding camps and illustrating study techniques. The most recent workshop recorded 300 attendees from over 20 schools and tertiary institutions. These social endeavours have been well appreciated by recipients as well as organisations, national and international, including the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, The Rotary Club, The Lions Club, St. George County Council, San Fernando City Council, and the Spiritual Baptist Church. His most recent awards include the Award for Excellence in Medicine and Community Service, Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin in August, 2010 and the Award of Excellence for Exceptional Contributions to Educational Development, Medical and Community Service and Humanitarianism in the Caribbean by The Holi Samelan Committee of New York, USA in September 2010.