Dr. Akhouri Sinha was blissfully unaware that a mountain in Antarctica was named after him. One day, while browsing through the internet, he stumbled upon this information on Wikipedia. The US Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names identified the mountain as Mount Sinha (Mt. Sinha), honouring his pioneering work from early 1970s on animal population in Antarctica.
Akhouri Achyutanand Sinha was born in Churamanpur village near Buxar, Bihar. He completed his graduation with a BSc degree from Allahabad University in 1954, and obtained an MSc degree in Zoology from Patna University in 1956. Sinha then taught Zoology at the Ranchi College, Jharkhand, from November 1956 to July 1961.
After this, he went to the US to complete his PhD at the University of Missouri in Columbia.
He began his career as a reproductive biologist with a specialization in the reproduction of sea otters and other marine animals.
Later, Dr. Sinha joined the University of Minnesota where he taught for over 25 years and carried out his pioneering research in biology.
The Antarctic Expeditions – A high point in his career
Given his background and his expertise in reproductive biology, the US National Science Foundation invited Dr. Akhouri Sinha to conduct research on the reproduction of Antarctic seals, as part of their Antarctic Program.
Thus, he became a part of the scientific team which made two expeditions to Antarctica in 1972 and 1974. They spent about 22 weeks on the icy continent, conducting population studies of seals, whales and birds in Bellingshausen and Amundsen seas. “We were often dropped via helicopters atop vast sheets of pack ice to study, catalogue and capture resident fauna,” says Dr. Sinha.
He was completely spell bound by the pristine beauty of the place and more importantly, by the amazing adaptability of the animals in harsh weather conditions there.
The naming of Mount Sinha
Picture used for representation only. Source: Andrew Mandemaker/Wikimedia
A 990 meter (3248 feet) high mountain located in the southeast extremity of Erickson Bluffs, in the southern part of McDonalds Heights, has been named Mount Sinha.
The mountain was named by the US Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN), and US Geological Survey. They also added that “records of population sizes, types and behaviours created by Sinha and his teammates have established critical baseline data that remain relevant in today’s climate change debates.”
The mountain was originally mapped between 1959-1965, by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and US Navy air photographs. It is ranked as the 2914th highest mountain in Antarctica. Dr. Akhouri Sinha, now in his 80s, is currently a research scientist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Centre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, an adjunct Professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, and a professor in the Department of Urology at the University of Minnesota.
He and his team are studying characteristics of prostate cancer stem cells and aggressiveness of prostate cancer in addition to cell proliferation and cell death.
Dr. Sinha is reported to have said that the ice that he had once traversed has begun to disappear at an alarming rate mainly due to climate change.
He still does not know “the exact date or year when Mount Sinha was named.”