New Delhi: Former Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the government of India K. VijayRaghavan has been appointed the chairman of Ashoka University’s newly formed Science Advisory Council.
The liberal arts and sciences institution created the Council to guide its Vice-Chancellor on “enhancing research, teaching and training in the Natural Sciences, Computer Science and Mathematics,” the university said in a statement Monday.
The founding members of the Council are: Rajesh Gopakumar, Senior Professor and Director, ICTS-TIFR Bangalore; Yamuna Krishnan, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago; Priyamvada Natarajan, Professor of Astronomy & Physics at Yale University; and Somak Raychaudhury, Director, IUCAA, Pune.
VijayRaghavan, an emeritus professor and former director of the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore, had served as the PSA from March 2018 to April 2022.
The 68-year-old was appointed the PSA after retiring as Secretary, Department of Biotechnology (DBT). He served in that post for five years from January 2013 to January 2018.
When asked about the new Council, he said: “The University has been making significant strides into various areas of cutting-edge research, aimed at solving some of the most important scientific issues of our time.”
He added the Council has “an important role to play in guiding the University’s research and development agenda”.
Achievements & awards
“I’m not going to be stupid and try something completely nutty. I’m going to try something within my grasp,” he had said when he left his job at NCBS — an institute he helped to build from the ground up — to lead the DBT in Delhi.
He said that he wanted to inject rigour into Indian science and train scientists to work together on tractable problems.
Professor VijayRaghavan’s contribution to science, as an outstanding developmental geneticist and neurobiologist, have also been widely recognised.
According to the Infosys Science Foundation, his work with Drosophila has revealed important principles and mechanisms that control the assembly and wiring of nerves and muscles during development. He has worked to define how these neuromuscular circuits direct specific locomotor behaviors.
VijayRaghavan is known for his innovative use of tools and concepts of genetics, microscopy, molecular biology, developmental biology and behavioral biology. He is also noted to be fearless in the incorporation of new methods when needed to tackle new biological questions.
The eminent scientist was awarded the Padma Shri in 2013 and the inaugural Infosys Prize in Life Sciences in 2009. VijayRaghavan was also a recipient of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, India’s most prestigious science award, in 1998.
He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society — formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge — since 2014. An alumnus of IIT-Kanpur, he is also a fellow of The Indian National Science Academy and The Indian Academy of Sciences and served on the Council of the latter.
He is also an associate member of the European Molecular Biology Organization and has received the Procter and Gamble Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Lucille P Markey Senior Research Fellowship.
In April 2014, he was elected as a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences.
Professor K. VijayRaghavan completed his Bachelor of Technology degree in Chemical Engineering and his Master of Technology degree in Bio-Medical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.