‘Our research is equal to the West. There is no magic in the world except the magic of hard work.’

“Sister Mary”

Small college facilities, perplexing problems, dangerous chemicals — nothing would stop the nun from her award winning research.

On August 24, 1998, an Indian was named one of the “2,000 outstanding scientists of the 20th century” by the International Biographical Research Centre at Cambridge.

The college principal’s findings will potentially save shipping companies millions of dollars and offer a magic solution to “fouling” — the biological coating a ship acquires over years on the sea. Fouling adds to a ship’s weight, reducing speed as well as fuel efficiency. For ages, mankind’s only response was scrubbing. Then scientists discovered fouling mixes seemed to steer clear of coral beds and sponges in the sea, concluding that the chemical continuously oozing from the corals was a fouler fighter. Sister Avelin, with a PhD in marine biology, was fascinated with this discovery and went on to discover that several soft corals of the Indian Ocean contained fouler inhibitors. Of these, Juncella Juncea contained the most potent compounds. Its extract is now called Juncelin, a combination of Juncella and Avelin in honour of its’ discoverer.

The discovery is yet to find commercial exploitation. Within Sister Avelin throbs a stout Indian heart: “My success shows that we are equal to the West”. In the end, Sister Avelin may or may not conquer commerce. But she has already achieved something greater — a reconciliation of spiritualism and science.

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