Kalya Jagannatha Rao obtained BSc (Hons) in 1960 and MSc (Physical Chemistry) in 1961 from the University of Mysore. He served as a Lecturer in Chemistry at the National College, Bangalore (1961-64). Thereafter, he obtained PhD (1967) from IIT Kanpur under the tutelage of CNR Rao. He was awarded DSc (1988) by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and DSc (hc) (2000) by the University of Bordeaux, France. He was Postdoctoral Research Associate (1967-72) at IIT Kanpur (with CNR Rao), Purdue University (with CA Angell) and the Case Western Reserve University (with AR Cooper). Thereafter, he joined National Aeronautical Laboratory (NAL), Bangalore in 1972 and moved to the Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit (SSCU) at IISc in 1978 where he is presently as Honorary Professor.
Academic and Research Achievements: At the IIT, Rao worked on phase transitions in crystalline solids, and on energetics of (point) defects in alkali halides. He worked on ionic glasses and glass transition phenomenon at Purdue and on thermal history glasses found in lunar fines recovered from Apollo missions at Case Western Reserve in order to understand lunar surface history. While at NAL, he lead a group working on a variety of chalcogenide glasses which possesses exploitable electronic properties and then moved to the SSCU at IISc. Professor Rao's pioneering contributions in glass science are to show that the Glass transition is a consequence of frustration of growth kinetics of ordered regions. That Glass formation and glass structure are more profoundly dictated by local chemistry in their structures, that the Fragility of a glass forming material is encrypted in its chemistry. His notable contributions in the area of ceramic science are the discovery of a clean, fast and energy efficient microwave route for the preparation of a number of advanced ceramics. Reactions under microwave irradiation were shown to follow unique and nontraditional path ways. Two important properties of zirconia, namely its very characteristic m-t transformation and its poor thermal conductivity were demonstrated to be eminently exploitable. He also published 290 peer reviewed research papers and four books, and guided 24 PhD students and one MS student
Other Contributions: Rao was Chairman of Materials Research Centre of IISc (1984-91) and contributed towards all aspects of its growth. As Chairman of the Division of Chemical Sciences at IISc (1992-97), he played a lead role in strengthening its structure as an important facilitating mechanism for all academic activities. Based on his long association with the University of Bordeaux in France, he initiated a formal association with Institutions in France and India in the form of Indo-French Laboratory for Solid State Chemistry (IFLaSC) with its Indian centre at SSCU, IISc.
Awards and Honours: Professor Rao was conferred the SS Bhatnagar Prize for Chemical Sciences (1984), Shanthi Ranjan Palit Award for Physical Chemistry (1993), Materials Science Medal by MRSI (1995); INSA Prize for Materials Science (1999), Alumni Award for Excellence in Research (Science) by IISc (2000), Gold Medal for Research by the University of Bordeaux I, France (2000), Silver Medal for Extensive and Outstanding Research in Chemistry by Chemical Research Society of India (2001), Distinguished Materials Scientist of the year by MRSI (2002); and ISCAS Gold Medal Life Time Achievement Award (2005). The French Government honoured him by conferring the title "Officier des Palmes Academiques" in 2006. Karnataka State Government honoured him with Sir M Visweswaraiah Award for life-time achievement in Chemical Sciences (2007). He is Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad; International Academy of Ceramics, Faenza, Italy; Asia Pacific Academy of Materials; and World Innovation Foundation.