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ISSN: 1600-5767

Sivaraj Ramaseshan (1923–2003)

aMolecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India

(Received 2 February 2004; accepted 2 February 2004)

Keywords: obituary.

Sivaraj Ramaseshan, distinguished crystallographer, materials scientist and much else, died at Bangalore on 29 December, 2003, at the age of 80, after a prolonged illness. He leaves behind his wife Kausalya and three daughters.

Born in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) on 10 October, 1923, he graduated from the University of Nagpur before joining the great scientist C. V. Raman in the Physics Department of the Indian Institute of Science in 1943. After obtaining his doctor­ate, he continued as a faculty member in the Department. His early work was concerned with magnetism and optics. He turned to crystallography in the first half of the fifties and quickly established a vibrant crystallographic group at Bangalore. Among the many contributions that emanated from the group, particular mention may be made of the two-wavelength method for solving crystal structures using anomalous dispersion, which in fact forms the basis for the currently hugely popular multiple anomalous dispersion (MAD) method. He moved to the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in 1962, where he continued his crystallographic researches. While at IIT, he spent a year in Dorothy Hodgkin's laboratory at Oxford, which marked the beginning of several life-long friendships.

He returned to Bangalore in 1966, now to start a materials science laboratory at the National Aeronautics Laboratory. This turned out be the beginning of his outstanding contributions in the area and their use for important applications. He continued to pursue fundamental research in physics and crystallography as well. In addition to the work in his own laboratory, he contributed to the development by other institutions of products such as heart valves, blood bags and components for aerospace applications. He was appointed as Joint Director of the Indian Institute of Science in 1979 and Director in 1981, from which position he formally retired in 1984. During his second tenure at the Institute, he initiated several important scientific and technological programmes.

His post-retirement phase proved to be extremely productive and useful. He was deeply involved in the administration of the Indian Academy of Sciences, of which he was President during 1983–1985, and the Raman Research Institute, Bangalore. He took a keen interest in Academy publications, particularly the journal Current Science, of which he was editor from 1989 until his death. Particular mention must also be made of the publication by the Academy of the collected works of Dorothy Hodgkin, which he coedited, in three volumes.

Ramaseshan has been honoured with many fellowships and awards. He served the International Union of Crystallography in several capacities, including as its Vice-President (1981–1984). Remarkably, a substantial proportion of crystallographers in India are his academic descendents.

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