Palliakaranai Thirumalai Narasimhan received his BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Madras and PhD (1955) from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. In 1957, he joined the Department of Chemistry, Michigan State University to work with Max T Rogers, and then worked with Martin Karplus (1959-61) at the University of Illinois and Columbia University on the theory of nuclear spin coupling constants. Thereafter, he joined the newly established IIT Kanpur as Assistant Professor (1962), became Professor there (1965) and continued to be actively involved there in teaching and research until his retirement (1988). He then left India to work on novel applications of magnetic resonance in biology at the Huntington Medical Research Institutes in Pasadena, California, and then at Beckman Institute at California Institute of Technology (1993-) where he continues to work to date.
Academic and Research Achievements: Narasimhan’s researches focused on diverse areas such as temperature dependence of the dielectric constant of diamond, absolute intensities in infrared spectroscopy, understanding the relationship between magnetic anisotropy of chemical bonds and NMR chemical shifts, theoretical analysis of NMR spectra, quantum theory of magnetic resonance parameters, experimental investigations on Overhauser effect, and nuclear quadrupole resonance spectroscopy. His latest researches relate to developing magnetic resonance microscopy as an imaging tool for biology. He has over 200 scientific publications to his credit. His major teaching career was at IIT Kanpur where he mentored over 20 PhD students. He was instrumental in establishing an active research group that dealt with the theoretical as well as experimental aspects of magnetic resonance. His contributions towards training and mentoring a future generation of teachers and researchers continues to be validated by the achievements of his students in their chosen areas of research, both in India as well as abroad.
Other Contributions: While at IIT Kanpur, Narasimhan contributed to bringing the Department of Chemistry to national and international prominence. He served in several positions, including Founder Member and Secretary of the Association of Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopists of India, and as Member of the first Editorial Board of PRAMANA – the Journal of Physics. He was Chairman of the National Advisory Committee for the 9th International Symposium on Nuclear Quadrupole Resonance, Kanpur (1988) and Council Member of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance, Chicago.
Awards and Honours: Professor Narasimhan has received many awards, including the SS Bhatnagar Award (1970), JC Ghosh Memorial Medal (1972), CV Raman Award by UGC (1980), and Professor RK Asundi Endowment Lecturer (1987). He was also elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad.