Ashok Kumar, the new Honorary Doctor in Technology, is a pioneer in bioengineering

Professor Ashok Kumar is a globally awarded researcher and pioneer in bioengineering. Kumar has actively collaborated with Aalto University in novel biomaterials, biopolymers, their additive manufacturing, and their biomedical applications since 2015, and has been granted an honorary doctorate.
Honorary Professor Ashok Kumar
Honorary Professor Ashok Kumar

Professor Ashok Kumar is a globally awarded researcher and pioneer in bioengineering. He is currently a Professor of Bioengineering at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT Kanpur), where he also leads the IIT Kanpur-La Trobe University Research Academy and acts as the Head of Environmental Science and Engineering. He has also served as a visiting professor at several universities internationally, including Aalto University, where he has now been awarded an honorary doctorate.

Kumar obtained his doctorate in India. A few years later, in 1997, he moved to Sweden to start working at Lund University, where his research focused on polymer technologies. While living in Sweden, Kumar was also able to visit Nagoya University in Japan, where the focus of his research shifted more towards a biomedical domain. The research time spent in Japan with background of expertise attained in Sweden was the starting point for the work that Kumar is still doing. In 2004, Kumar returned to India to work at IIT Kanpur, where he strongly contributed to the development of the bioengineering department. Links with Sweden and the rest of Europe remained strong after the move to India, and Finland eventually caught Kumar's attention.

Kumar's collaboration with Aalto University began when Gary Marquis, then Dean of the School of Engineering, visited IIT Kanpur. Soon, Kumar contacted Aalto, and in 2016 he started as a visiting part-time professor at the School of Chemical Engineering, funded by the Academy of Finland. Kumar worked mainly with Professor Jukka Seppälä of the School of Chemical Engineering, but from the beginning he was also joined by Professor Jouni Partanen of the School of Engineering. 
The collaboration turned out to be very successful: Aalto had expertise in functional and bioactive polymer materials and new 3D printing technology that can be used to create new types of structures, geometries, and pieces. Kumar and IIT Kanpur showed great interest in new biomaterials, especially for medical and surgical applications, and possessed advanced applications and application know-how. The research was based on a strong complementarity, which has worked well to this day. 

Kumar has been a regular visiting professor at Aalto University ever since starting in 2016. The collaboration has also included several research visits to conduct research at both universities. This has resulted in several high-quality publications and the collaboration continues to be active. The collaborative research has focused on three areas: bone tissue regeneration, peripheral nerve regeneration guiding materials, and 3D printed structures based on novel bio polymers. In addition to the researchers, students have also played an active role, as they have had the opportunity to visit the laboratories and research of the partner institution. 

Kumar has been instrumental in expanding and activating cooperation between Aalto University and IIT. In addition, Kumar has, among other things, invited Aalto to join the India-Europe Research and Education Cooperation Network, which has also provided a broader frame of reference. Kumar himself believes that cooperation between Finland and India should continue in the future and that both countries have much to learn from each other. In addition to the healthcare domain, Kumar sees the energy domain, amongst others, as an important area for joint research.

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