Were it not for the guidance and support of his parents and two influential teachers, Professor Chennupati Jagadish may well be ploughing fields in his homeland of India.
Instead, Jagadish is Distinguished Professor and Head of the Semiconductor Optoelectronics and Nanotechnology Group at the Research School of Physics and Engineering (RSPE) at ANU. With his wife, Vidya, who is also a scientist, Jagadish has established the Chennupati and Vidya Jagadish Endowment Fund.
The Fund will support up to four scholarships or fellowships a year for students and researchers from the developing world to study or conduct collaborative research for up to three months at RSPE.
Jagadish, who studied by the light of a kerosene lamp up until grade seven, was invited to live with his high school maths and science teacher for three years to give him access to a high school education. Another high school teacher provided encouragement and support to pursue further studies.
"The generosity of those two teachers in India made a huge difference for me. My wife also came from a small place in India, and we both started out with limited opportunities and limited resources,"
Jagadish said. "So we felt it was time to give something back to improve the opportunities for people in need."
The program will expose researchers from developing countries to the University and its state-of-the-art facilities.
"Hopefully they will go back to their country and feel passionate about science and technology, and be inspired to become scientists of the highest calibre possible," Jagadish said.
"Science and technology really provides the quality of life that we have in the modern world and we want to inspire people to contribute to advancements in science and technology in terms of making a difference to the world."
The experience would also allow these researchers to meet other academics and be exposed to networks that may be beneficial to them later in their career, he said.
"Maybe they will come back as PhD students to Australia or to ANU. It is to open doors for them," Jagadish said. "The purpose of the Endowment is to create opportunities for people who have limited opportunities.