My Mentors


`World`s foremost theoretical electrochemist`


Professor Sarukkai Krishnamachary Rangarajan



`modern day Isaac Newton`



Professor Pierre-Gilles De Gennes





A Tribute:

`Prof. Rangarajan, undisputedly the world`s foremost theoretical electrochemist.`

R. De Levie (1993)


Descriptions like brilliant, inspiring, humane, dedicated, though apt, are not adequate to portray Professor S. K. Rangarajan- either as a person or as a Scientist. Clarity in thought, ability to discern the essential from the details, urge to comprehend, correlate, unify and generalize are transparent in all his activities. In the area of electrochemical sciences, the main thrust of his approach is to bring electrochemistry back into mainstream of physical chemistry and chemical physics where it really belongs.


“I have rarely come across an intellectual and human being who is so open and deep. It is an irreparable loss to the community.”

-Debashis Mukherjee (2008)


“A truly great teacher, SKR was a selfless and self-effacing man.  He gave away his knowledge to anyone who came to him without ever expecting any return.   The very thought of returns never occurred to him.  He was not a man of mere intellect.   Indeed, it was jut one small part of him. At a time when lesser mortals get easily tempted to fall prey to the ways of the world, he remained steadfast in his values and principles, never once deviating from his chosen, or should I say preordained path”. - S. Arunachalam

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Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics (1991) "for discovering that methods developed for studying order phenomena in simple systems can be generalized to more complex forms of matter, in particular to liquid crystals and polymers."



P. G. de Gennes was born in Paris, France, in 1932 (Oct. 26). He majored from the École Normale in 1955. From 1955 to 1959, he was a research engineer at the Atomic Energy Center (Saclay), working mainly on neutron scattering and magnetism, with advice from A. Herpin, A. Abragam and J. Friedel (PhD 1957). During 1959 he was a postdoctoral visitor with C. Kittel at Berkeley, and then served for 27 months in the French Navy. In 1961, he became assistant professor in Orsay and soon started the Orsay group on superconductors. Later, 1968, he switched to liquid crystals. In 1971, he became Professor at the Collčge de France, and was a participant of STRASACOL (a joint action of Strasbourg, Saclay and Collčge de France) on polymer-physics.

From 1980, he became interested in interfacial problems, in particular the dynamics of wetting. Recently, he has been concerned with the physical chemistry of adhesion and physics of granular materials.

P.G. de Gennes has received the Holweck Prize from the joint French and British Physical Society; the Ampere Prize, French Academy of Science; the gold medal from the French CNRS; the Matteuci Medal, Italian Academy; the Harvey Prize, Israel; the Wolf Prize, Israel; The Lorentz Medal, Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences; and polymer awards from both APS and ACS. He is a member of the French Academy of Sciences, the Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences, USA.


Pierre-Gilles de Gennes : publications

Honours and Awards:

Homi Bhabha Fellow (1970-72).

Fellow, Indian Academy of Sciences.

Fellow, Indian National Science Academy.

S. R. Palit Award in Physical Chemistry.

Corresponding Fellow, Third World Academy of Sciences, Italy.

CRSI Life Time Achievement Award (2008)

Associate Editor of Electrochimica Acta (Pergamon Press).

…but the man was much more than what these signify.


Two “rare distinctions”:

Never bothered to obtain a Ph.D. though produced seven Doctorates … and most of them decorated with best thesis awards at IISc. For a major part of his career, he neither had a big team at his command nor funded projects at his disposal.


Some interesting anecdotes and quotes:

*   How Providence brought together Doss and SKR in 1960

The Legend goes that Doss was looking for someone who knew Laplace Transforms and could solve non-stedy-state problem for the redoxo-kinetic effect. A popular article on Laplace transforms contributed by SKR to his Engineering College magazine caught Doss’ attention. Doss came to know from B. A. Shenoi that SKR was his neighbour and came down to meet SKR at his residence. Thus began the famous Doss-SKR collaboration.


*   Professor Martin Fleishman on SKR’s 1965 visit to the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK:

“Look, Rangarajan, this University is a great place and we have had many visiting us. They all got something from here. You are the only person to whom we didn’t give anything but took everything.”


*   SKR learns his first lesson in ‘Administration’ from Doss

On one of his scientific sessions with Doss, SKR had taken with him a file ‘for Director’s approval’; Doss said, ‘You may send the file later, let us discuss science now’.


*   Doss in one of his meetings, seems to have remarked that “discovering SKR” was his most important contribution to electrochemistry.


Publications of Prof. S. K. Rangarajan

Article on SKR by R de Levie

S. K. Rangarajan (1932–2008)

S.K. Rangarajan, a tribute

SKR in memory by KLSebastian

An Obituary on SKR