Brief biography

My name is felix though I often sign-in using my sobriquet: iFlex, the anagram or Iron59, the chemico-hellenic formula of Fe-LIX. 

I was born in Kerala, India in 1980 and spent 25 years of my life in various parts of India before accepting a Scholarship from MEXT to do my PhD in Phycology at Kochi University, Japan. I have recently completed my PhD in Natural Sciences from Kochi University, Japan (under 
Japanese Govt. Monbukagakusho:MEXT  Scholarship Scheme) and joined at Central University of Punjab, Bathinda as Assistant Professor at School of Biosciences.This is indeed my dream job; this allow me to pursue  a career devoted for both teaching and research, with flexibility of choosing a research area what I really wanted to work on!

 Despite my name sounds like Christian, I am not. Does it sounds feline? ('Felix the cat', Felis domesticus, Egyptian cat goddess Bast) Right, I love cats a lot! I was born in a Hindu-Brahmin family (Nambissan-Ambalavasi) and brought up as Hindu; but I'm irreligious (though, a believer) and fascinated by neo-paganism (Japanese Shinto; Egyptian Kemet; Scandinavian Norsk, British Druids and so on). You might be curious to know, why did I change my name?

I changed my name a decade ago, you know those young days of revolt against social norms (a.k.a."the catcher in the Rye", type). Now that those maverick days are over, yet i don't really regret my earlier decision. 

I love Science and support arguments that are evidence-based. I'm a big time skeptic of such pseudo-science things, that include astrology [right ;)], "makara jyothi", ayurveda, homeo, (sidha, yunani, reiki, acupuncture, etc etc....this garbage-list is never ending, unfortunately!). I want to live and die with a passion for truthfulness, honesty and, therefore, Science! (i love reading Michael Shermer's Skeptic column of the Scientific American).The only thing i believe in, which can't be explained by science is in the existence of providence, the ultimate control-engineer of life and the universe. Though I'm a believer, I do not visit temples to pray (I however visit some temples with a mind-set of a traveler). I believe helping others who are in need of it, is the ultimatum of "dharma". I do not believe in spirits as well as in spirituality, but, i back principle of "sanchita karma" in that if we sow goodness, we reap goodness; sow evilness, reap evilness. I do not believe in heaven or hell, but i believe that destiny is something which is free from our "free-will".

I remember that I always enjoyed visits to the beach and seashore during my school days and swimming was my favorite pastime (beside cats and bikes). During my 3 years of learning Biology at St. Pious X College, Kannur University I first came to know that marine algae (including phytoplanktons) contribute to almost 70% of the total oxygen production in earth and this motivated me to spend a summer (2001) at the lab of Dr. M.K. Mathew to work on a marine microalgae- Dunaliella salina. I then decided to continue working on green algae. For the masters, I joined University of Madras, India and studied about macroalgal Photobioreactors and later, National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India to study marine primary productivity. I am currently a graduate student at Kochi University, Japan and I am studying about reproduction, seasonality, biogeography and phylogeny of a marine green alga: Monostroma.

My career goal is to continue the research on basic scientific problems as well as contribute in the academic environment and the world. Yet another is to bring the essence of modern research to the lay men who can't appreciate the beauty and importance of nature surrounding us, through the medium of popular science writing (I enjoy reading New Scientist/Scientific American as well as listening to the podcast The naked Scientists).

 
 

Personality

 

My personality type falls into the INTP category of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I'm relatively obsessive, which I use as a strength. Precision of goal is very important to me; this serves me well when researching or writing. I'm best at working with concepts. When I become rabidly interested in something, it consumes most of my thoughts for months or even longer. I'll keep working at it, long after someone else would have gotten bored and turned to something else. This has allowed me to build up ruthless competence even when nothing comes naturally to me at first.


Countries I have been to


 
 

Activities and Pastime


In my free time, I play with my daughter (Haritha), stream online radio stations and read books. Occasionally, but less frequently than other people, I watch video - usually classics on DVD. I definitely don't enjoy parties, but I do enjoy games. I'm not interested in poker, but I am interested in chess, even though I'm exceptionally lousy at it and I don't play it as much as I'd like to. Chess appeals to me in part because it's a game of perfect information - the entire state of the game is always visible to all players.

I use some of my free time for activities that are still enjoyable, but are somewhat closer to the other end of the entertainment-work spectrum. My website chronicles these creative endeavors. There are several reasons why I like to explain things. I'm good at it, and I always take pleasure in doing something well. Also, developing a clear conceptual explanation of something helps me to understand it more completely. Learning is hard work, filled with lots of trial and error; with a clear conceptual explanation, I can make the process easier for other people. I love to reduce and eliminate complexity.

Among other activities, I enjoy hiking, swimming, life-hacking, playing board games, cross country biking,

Origamy (see my cranevase, and lips).

These are some activities I'm into: swimming,bicycling,running (oh yeah, that triathlon definitely!), camping and hiking (I love outdoors!) and helping others. I'm not much into team sports, but I love watching lawn tennis and sumo wrestling in telly. Sometimes I play chess in computer, but I am not that good at it as i used to be. I love travelling (I'm a 'frugal traveler') though I haven't really traveled to the places I wanted to travel; given a chance I would love to visit Peru, Chile, Egypt and Finland someday! The first place I check-in whenever i travel to a far-off place is normally, a zoo. I also enjoy writing; during my school days when i was still in Kerala, some of my essays had gotten published in Malayalam popular-science magazines (Eureka/Shastrakeralam), news papers (Mathrubhumi) and so on.

Volunteering my free time, makes me very happy. I'm involved with Kerala based community-organisation for educating village people of science and technology, Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad. I prefer donating to charities to personal gifts, in general.

I'm a big fan of old-time radio shows (BBC Archers, for e.g.) and podcasts (the Naked Scientist podcast, for e.g.). For several reasons i do not like watching telly (other than for sports, as mentioned before), one among them is the never-ending and totally irritating deluge of nonsensical ads. I find hulu, the online site, is a better alternative.

Most of the time I listen to what I call trance. I'm not very discriminating when it comes to classifying music; what I call "trance", others call "techno", "dance", or "electronica". Probably the best-known trance artist that I listen to is Armin van Buuren. I also highly recommend DJ Tiesto and Ulrich Schnauss. (These three artists sell CDs through Amazon.) I also listen ambient music while working (Brian Eno: Ambient 1, Music for Airport) or a band called Vitamin String Quartet. My own musical aptitude is nonexistent.


I am not an avid bibliophile, but i find time to read books-mostly e-books in my mobile- when I'm really in mood. These are some of my best loving books: The sun also rises; Kafka on the shore; the Atonement, The wind-up bird chronicle and The great Gatsby. I also love fiction column (mostly short stories) that appears in "the new yorker" magazine online edition.