Sishta Venkata Seetharama Shastry did his BSc (Agriculture) (1950) from Andhra University after which he joined the Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttak, Orissa for a career in rice breeding. He then obtained MS (1957) and PhD (Genetics) (1958) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA under the supervision of Professors DC Cooper and WK Smith. His PhD dissertation was on 'Chromosome Structural Hybridity and Speciation in Melilotus sps'. Upon returning to India, he initiated teaching and research in the newly established Postgraduate School at Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi and continued working there (1958-66).
Academic and Research Achievements: Professor Shastry developed the Pachytene analysis in the genus Oryza for unraveling the karyomorphology and elucidating the chromosome structural hybridity in the interpretation of speciation in the genus. Concurrently, he pursued the taxonomical studies in the genus Oryza which led to reinterpretation of the origin of cultivated rice and in the identification of a new species, O. nivara. He also headed the All India Coordinated Rice Improvement Project of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (1966-75) and led a nation-wide applied research programme to develop the semi-dwarf high yielding cultivars of rice. He directly contributed towards the development of three important cultivars; Jaya, Sona and Phalguna and pioneered breeding for insect resistance and crop husbandry for high and moderate levels of input use. Four PhD and 15 MSc students were supervised by him.
Other Contributions: Professor Shastry helped formulate the nationally coordinated Rice Research Project in Indonesia in 1970. He served as Member, Board of Trustees, International Rice Research Institute, Philippines (1970-73); International Coordinator, Rice Gal Midge Research (1971-75); Executive Secretary, International Rice Commission, Rome (1975-77); and Member Technical Advisory Committee, West African Rice Development Agency (1975-77). He headed research programmes of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria (1977-82); and assisted several UN-sponsored development projects as Consultant.
Awards and Honours: Professor Shastry was awarded Padma Sri (1971); Borlaug Award (1974); Janna Reddy Venkata Reddy Medal (AP) (1975); and Certificate of Appreciation (Group Award) of the US Department of Agriculture (1975). He was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1975); National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad (1984); and National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi (1995).