Potukuchi Suryaprakasa Rao obtained DSc (1941) from Andhra University, Waltair. He was Head, Chemistry of Forest Products Branch, Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun (1956-60); Professor, Department of Chemistry, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Bangalore; Director, Forest Research Laboratory, Bangalore (till 1973); and ICAR Retired Scientist, Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bangalore.
Academic and Research Achievements: Rao’s main areas of studies were: natural products chemistry and plant biochemistry. He worked on flower pigments while at the Andhra University. At Forest Research Laboratory, he carried out investigations on the chemistry and utilization of several forest products like dyes, drugs, essential oils, fatty oils, carbohydrates, proteins and tannins. He and his coworkers studied the spike disease of sandal and worked out methods for its control, including treatment with antibiotics. He was largely responsible for the development of the tamarind kernel powder industry in the country to get over the problem of the shortage of cereal starches for sizing and finishing in cotton and jute textile industries. He co-authored four books: Industrial Gums (Academic Press, 1959, revised 1972), Some useful Aromatic Plants (Government of India, 1966), Handbook on Indian Woods and Wood Panels and Aromatic Plants of India.
Other Contributions: Dr Rao served as Member, Indian Phytopathological Society and American Wood Preservers Association; and Founder Member, Tree and Wood Chemistry Group of International Union of Forestry Research Organizations.
Awards and Honours: Dr Rao was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, Royal Institute of Chemistry, London, Indian Academy of Wood Science, and Indian Academy of Horticultural Sciences.