Every year, February 28 is celebrated as National Science Day to commemorate renowned physicist C.V. Raman’s discovery of what is known as the Raman effect.

But it has taken over 20 years for a scientist from the State to receive the award constituted under his name.

S. Rajarajan, 58, a professor of microbiology at Presidency College has been awarded the Dr. Sir C. V. Raman birth centenary gold medal this year. Dr. Rajarajan, who hails from Cuddalore is an alumnus of Presidency College and the University of Madras, and holds a Ph.D in medical microbiology.

“It is believed that Prof. Raman booked his tickets much before the announcement of the award. He was confident of getting the award because he believed in his research. That is very inspiring for me,” said Prof. Rajaram, who was given the responsibility of setting up a microbiology lab in Presidency College in the late nineties.

“It was difficult because we had to start everything from scratch. Getting experts in this field is a big challenge,” he explains. Presidency College now is one of very few colleges here that offers postgraduate and Ph.D programmes in microbiology.

Prof. Rajaran is also the principal coordinator of the national-level programme to develop an antiviral drug for closely-related viral diseases such as chicken pox and herpes. However, the principal focus of Prof. Rajarajan’s research has been mosquito-borne diseases such dengue and chikungunya which are causing an increasing number of deaths of late.

“We have collaborated with other institutes in Kanpur and Jammu, to collect blood samples. Everything will be processed here,” the scientist said.

He also said there is an increasing interest among students in research in pure sciences, but many are also drawn to engineering.

“Knowledge of pure sciences is important to enjoy engineering, which is application-oriented. I tell them to be patient because research takes time to bear fruit. Not many engineers are well known, but Sir C.V. Raman, a scientist, is respected everywhere,” he said.

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