New Fellows of the Royal Society, and a personal tribute to one

Six scientists of Indian origin have been elected[Nature’s Indigenus blog; hat-tip: Abi] to the fellowship of the Royal Society this year. Congratulations to all of them. Two have spent significant parts of their career in India: M. Vidyasagar, who spent 20 years at CAIR Bangalore and TCS Hyderabad before moving to the US recently; and K VijayRaghavan, the director of NCBS, Bangalore, who has spent almost his entire professional life in India.

Vijay is the only one I know personally: I first met him shortly after moving back to India (and moving into biology), in 2004. I previously wrote about him here, on his winning the Infosys prize in 2009. To quote:

At the time [2004] I was reasonably well known in sections of the [Indian] physics community, but a total unknown in the biology community. We first met at a seminar on developmental and evolutionary biology where he was speaking and I was attending; we struck up a collaboration that, though certainly not the world’s most active and vigorous (the fault is mine), continues to this day(*). I am perennially astonished at how he finds time for everything. At the same time that he has been doing outstanding science, he has, as director, built up NCBS (admittedly already an excellent place when he inherited it) into easily one of the best and most competitive biology centres in the world. And, on top of all that, he’s a great guy personally.

In fact, his contribution in building up NCBS into a “world-class institution” figures significantly in the Royal Society’s citation. I continue to be amazed at how he finds time for everything. And he is one of those scientists always willing to speak his mind, without causing controversy, and participate civilly in online discussion: he has commented occasionally (including very recently) on this and other blogs, and himself blogs at Indiabiosciences.

(*)That was 2009; we since published a paper, and there has not been much active collaboration after that, but it is always stimulating to meet him and talk to him.

Update 23/4/2012: NPNI adds more examples of online interaction with Vijay. The first is particularly amusing, but unsurprising!

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