VS Rama Das obtained BSc from Andhra University and MSc from the University of Delhi. He was then at the University of Uppsala, Sweden (1953-54) under the supervision of Professor Elias Melin where he worked on physiology of tree mycorrhiza. Subsequently, he obtained DPhil (1957) from the University of Oxford, UK working on metabolism of isolated chloroplasts under Professor WO James. Thereafter, he worked at the University of Allahabad as Assistant Professor of Botany (1957-59), then moved to the Sri Venkateswara (SV) University, Tirupati (where he worked up to 1988) working as Lecturer, Reader, Professor, and then Head of the Botany Department; also worked as Dean, Faculty of Sciences, Principal of the University College and later as Rector at the SV University. He visited the University of California at Berkeley (1959-60) to work with Professor Daniel Arnon; and also the Memorial University of Newfoundland St. John’s NFLD, Canada (1967-69). Subsequently, he worked at the Central University at Hyderabad (1988-93) in the School of Life Sciences, where he was also CSIR Emeritus Scientist and Professor Emeritus till 1999. Thereafter, he served as Visiting Professor in Biotechnology at Nagarjuna University till 2005.
Academic and Research Achievements: Rama Das’s doctoral work resulted in isolation of biochemically pure chloroplasts for the first time uncontaminated by the mitochondria. His principal research activity has been in the area of plant physiology covering photosynthesis. He carried out research in relation to foliar solar tracking behavior and photosynthesis. He published a research monograph on photosynthesis in 2004, which is widely used globally. Twenty students obtained PhD in plant physiology from the SV university under his guidance. Several research projects sponsored by the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, US Department of Agriculture, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and United Nations Environment Programme were conducted by him as the Principal Investigator. He also authored over 200 research papers.
Other Contributions: Professor Rama Das developed a strong school of plant physiology particularly in photosynthesis in the Department of Botany at the SV University, and a Center for Photosynthesis at the University of Hyderabad. He was Director of the CSIR Complex (later renamed as Institute for Himalayan Bioresource Technology) during 1991. He served on the expert committees of ICAR, CSIR, DAE and DNES. He also served as Editorial Board Member of the Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy, and Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences.
Awards and Honours: Professor Rama Das was awarded in 1978 for Outstanding Achievement in Biological Sciences by FICCI. He received the Birabal Sahni Gold Medal by Indian Botanical Society (1985); JJ Chinoy Memorial Medal by Indian Society for Plant Physiology (1979-78); Honor Summas Medal by Watumull Foundation, USA (1987); JC Bose Award by UGC (1991); and the Professor SB Saksene Memorial Award by INSA (1996). He was President of the Indian Society for Plant Physiology (1973) and Andhra Pardesh Akademi of Sciences (1978-79). He was UGC National Lecturer in Botany twice (1978-79; 1985-86). He was also elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; and the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi.