Four scientists in fray for IISc directorship

Four scientists in fray for IISc directorship

After almost eight years, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore may have a new director as the current incumbent Padmanabhan Balaram is set to retire.

Four eminent scientists are in the fray to replace Balaram and the likely candidate’s name may be disclosed at the IISc council meeting, scheduled on Saturday.

Department of Biotechnology Secretary K Vijayaraghavan is the forerunner, reliable sources told Deccan Herald.

When contacted, Vijayraghavan, who became DBT Secretary about an year ago, denied going out of the department. Other three academicians are senior IISc professors D D Sharma, Raghavendra Gadagkar and Vijayalakshmi Rabindranath.

While 58-year-old Sharma, a professor of Chemistry, is the youngest of the four, neuro-scientist Rabindranath has previous administrative experience as she was the first Director of National Brain Research Centre, Manesar.

One of the world's leading experts on animal behaviour, Gadagkar is a Professor at IISc Centre for Ecological Sciences. He is also current President of Indian National Science Academy.

Vijayaraghavan, who was heading Bangalore-based National Centre for Biological Sciences before becoming DBT Secretary, is the only Fellow of Royal Society among the four. On the other hand, Gadagkar is a foreign associate of US National Academy of Science.

No interview

A search committee comprising eminent scholars is likely to announce the next director’s name in the council meeting, chaired by K Kasturirangan, Member, Planning Commission and former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation. 

“In IISc, a director is selected several months in advance. There is no interview and no panel. A panel of eminent academicians chooses a candidate on consensus,” said a IISc professor, who is also on the verge of retirement.

Tradition

Even though Balaram crossed 64 years of age last month, he will retire on July 31 in accordance with an IISc tradition. The molecular biologist took over from Govardhan Mehta, who was the director between 1998 and 2005. Bharat Ratna C N R Rao too was IISc director for 10 years.

No woman has ever headed the prestigious institute, which is in existence for more than 100 years. 

A deemed university since 1958, IISc is possibly India's finest research and education institute and highly regarded all over the world.

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