Sudhanshu Kumar Jain did his BSc and MSc from University of Allahabad, standing first in MSc (Bot). He obtained his PhD (1965) from the University of Pune. He spent six months in USSR studying Indian collections there. He worked for five years in CSIR in Publication Division and National Botanic Garden (now, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow). Jain joined the Botanical Survey of India (1956) and retired as its Director in 1984. He moved to NBRI, Lucknow to work as National Environment Fellow and Emeritus Scientist of CSIR and DST. Since then he is working as Project Investigator of numerous Indian and foreign projects. Currently, he is an INSA Honorary Scientist.
Academic and Research Achievements: Dr Jain taught in Meerut University (1947-49). His research activity falls in three broad categories: (i) Taxonomy, (ii) Ethnobotany and Medicinal plants and (iii) Endemic and Rare Plants. He prepared and guided regional, detailed accounts of state floras, and several tribes and genera of grasses and orchids. He discovered 25 plants new to science. Secondly, he surveyed and documented less known or under-exploited uses of about 2000 plants. This work provided leads for herbal drug research. He wrote extensively on the prospect of ethnobotany for drug discovery and socio-economic uplift, which has now become the thrust area of research in major R&D institutes. He added new dimensions like quantification, credibility, objectivity, and inter-ethnic studies and put India on global map of ethnobotany. He also did pioneering work on endemic and rare plants. He has published 300 papers and authored/edited 35 books. Jain has mentored fourteen PhDs.
Other Contributions: Jain founded the Society of Ethnobotanists (1980) and Association for Plant Taxonomy (1998) and initiated journals of these societies. In 1995, he founded the Institute of Ethnobiology at Lucknow (presently at Jiwaji University, Gwalior). His book on Indian Ethnobotany was also presented in US courts to win the Turmeric patent. His work on endemic and rare plants prompted authorities to establish some gene sanctuaries and take other biodiversity conservation steps. He served on Editorial Board of many Indian and foreign journals.
Awards and Honours: Dr Jain has received UP Education Minister's Medal (1965), P Maheshwari Medal (1982), Harshberger Medal (1992) and Shyam Bahadur Saxena Memorial Medal of INSA (1996). He is the first Asian to get the Distinguished Economic Botanist Award of USA (1999). He is also the recipient of H Santapau Medal (2002) and W Carey Medal (2006). He is a Fellow of National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad and Indian Botanical Society. He is the President of International Society for Tropical Ecology, International Association for Study of Traditional Asian Medicine (India) and Chairman, International Commission of Ethnobotany. Twenty-five new plants have been named after him (Jain) [e.g. Jainia, Saussurea sudhanshui].