Pursue your research interests with Amrita University in India

Student Researcher

Amrita University is India’s top-rated private university, and its Live-In-Labs (LILAs) are its flagship opportunity for international students.

Students from virtually any disciplinary background are invited to apply for this opportunity. Amrita University’s “labs” are 101 villages in rural India, where Student Researchers live, assess the local community’s challenges, and apply their educational training in the creation and testing of potential solutions. To apply, pick one of the following focus areas --  Health & Livelihood, Education & Technology, Infrastructure & Basic Facilities, Energy, and Environment & Farming – and prepare a statement of interest that describes your academic and personal background in this area. Working with CGHE Program Coordinator, Dr. Lisa Vahapoğlu, you will develop that statement into a research proposal that will be submitted to Amrita University. If you are selected for this opportunity, you may travel to India over the Winter recess. Minimum time in country is 3 weeks. 

What are Live-In Labs?

If the “lab” part of Live-in-Lab conjures up Bunsen burners for you, think again: Amrita’s “labs” are 101 villages in rural India, where Student Researchers live, assess the local community’s challenges, and apply their educational training in the creation and testing of potential solutions.

The central aim of LILAs is to find ways to integrate education into day to day life, and in so doing, to foster strategic planning (rather than mere survival) in rural communities. To that end, you will work in an interdisciplinary team, in a village, where you will be applying and implementing theoretical knowledge that you’ve acquired from the classroom, extracurricular activities, and life experiences. Recent projects have included students from a very broad range of schools and degree programs, e.g. Civil and Environmental Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; Social Work, Epidemiology, and Fine Arts (MFA with a  focus in ceramics). If you would like to see how your degree can be applied to real-world challenges, this is a terrific opportunity. Students from virtually any disciplinary background are welcome to apply.

Live-In Labs Focus Areas

Health & Livelihood: Activities and projects include development of low cost medical diagnosis units and healthcare management devices, rural health management systems, and programs to detect and manage epidemics.

Especially suitable for UB students from Epidemiology and Environmental Health; the School of Management; School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; School of Medicine. Students from other disciplines who have background and interest in this area are also invited to apply.

Education & Technology: Activities and projects include development of programs to reduce school drop-out rates; establishment of after-school education centers and computer training programs; creation of tablet-based programs; skill development to empower artists working in traditional media; and development and promotion of community-based educational campaigns.

Especially suitable for UB students from the Schools of Education and Social Work, and those from many Departments in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students from other disciplines who have background and interest in this area are also invited to apply.

Infrastructure & Basic Facilities: Activities and projects include sustainable infrastructure development utilizing locally-available resources; development of low-cost water distribution systems; and development and implementation of sanitation systems suitable for rural communities.

Especially suitable for UB students from the Schools of Architecture and Planning and Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Departments of Geology and Geography. Students from other disciplines who have background and interest in this area are also invited to apply. Alumni of CGHE’s 2016 Global Innovation Challenge are particularly encouraged to apply.

Energy: Activities and projects include development of efficient energy management practices and optimizing distribution models and generation of power leveraging renewable energy sources.

Especially suitable for UB students from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Departments of Geology and Geography. Students from other disciplines who have background and interest in this area are also invited to apply.

Environment & Farming: Activities and projects include development of best practices in farming economics, development and implementation of awareness programs for organic farming, creation of micro food-processing units, and establishment of smart agriculture systems. A sample problem that is waiting to be solved: what are novel ways to use surplus jackfruit of which one of the village “labs” has an overabundance? Can a product be developed that help create jobs in the community?

Especially suitable for UB students from the Schools of Management, Architecture and Planning, and Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Departments of Economics, Geology, and Geography. Students from other disciplines who have background and interest in this area are also invited to apply. 

How to Get Involved?

First, pick one of the areas of focus: Health & Livelihood, Education & Technology, Infrastructure & Basic Facilities, Energy, and Environment & Farming. Prepare your CV and a statement of interest about this focus area, and set up a time to meet with Dr. Lisa Vahapoğlu with CGHE to discuss the program and determine whether it will be a good fit for you. If you/Dr. Vahapoğlu, jointly determine that you should proceed, you will develop a research proposal, find a UB faculty mentor to support your research project, then send your application materials to Amrita’s Center for International Programs. Amrita staff will carefully evaluate your background, aptitudes and interests, and match you with a specific ongoing or prospective project. You will hear back from them in about 3 weeks, at which point you will be told the village to which you have been assigned, as well as the particular problem that you will be addressing, and the project team with whom you will be working. At that point you can begin planning your trip to India! 

Once you arrive in India, you will be picked up at the airport by an Amrita agent, and you will be taken to Amrita’s Amritapuri Campus where you will attend an orientation and go through admission formalities, which will take about 4-5 days. After that, you will travel to the village to which you have been assigned, where you will listen, learn, and contemplate the challenges there with your team (which will include Amrita students and an Amrita faculty member who will be functioning as the PI of the project).  In some villages, students will be staying in an apartment; in other villages students will be placed with a local family.

At the conclusion of your project, you will prepare a report that summarizes your experience and findings. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How far in advance does the application need to be submitted?

The initial contact with Amrita (submission of resume and motivation letter) at least three months before intended date of travel. Please allow at least 3 weeks for Amrita’s International Office to evaluate your materials and do “matchmaking” with LILA projects that would make good use of your skills and education. 

What is the duration of the opportunity?

Minimum of three weeks; maximum of one year.

Are there seasonal or holiday limitations when this opportunity is not available?

Amrita University administrators would appreciate your not planning to arrive in the window from September 20 to October 2 as it is a major holiday. Also, please note that Amrita University is on break from the third week of December through January 2.  University administrators will be there during that time but you would not be able to begin work with Amrita student collaborators and faculty students until after January 2. 

What is the cost to students?

Application, Registration and Tuition fees: Free

[Note: Amrita currently provides scholarships for international students who wish to participate in LILAs; however, this might change in the future]

Room and board: $250/month

Books: N/A

International transportation: Student’s responsibility. Students working on health-related projects can apply for CGHE travel funds, which are offered on a rolling and competitive basis until the funds are exhausted for the academic year.

Local transportation to/from living quarters and workplace/classroom: this is the student’s expense, and it will vary depending on the location of the village where the student is placed. Please note that students are expected to take ground transportation (bus or train) to the village to which they are assigned (no air travel). Amrita’s international office will help students to coordinate their in-country travel.