SK Mukerjee earned his BSc (Hons) degree (1947) from Patna University and then moved to Delhi University and got his MSc (1949) and PhD degree (1953) under the guidance of TR Seshadri, FRS. He did his post-doctoral studies first at the University of Manchester, UK (1960) as Commonwealth Scholar, and then as UNESCO Fellow (1965) at the Shemyakin Institute of Natural Products, Moscow, USSR. He joined as a Lecturer in Chemistry in Delhi University (1952) and then as a Reader (1960). In 1970, he shifted to IARI, New Delhi, as Head of the newly created Division of Agricultural Chemicals. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) honoured him with the Chair of Professor of Eminence (1984) from which post he retired in 1986. After retirement, he was a Visiting Professor to Delhi University and started a new vocational course on Agrochemicals.
Academic and Research Achievements: At Delhi University, Dr Mukerjee worked on the chemistry of natural products for which he set up excellent analytical and instrumental facilites in the Chemistry Department. He devised an elegant route to natural furanopyrones like the cardioactive drug kellin and related products. Later he did extensive work on the chemistry of neoflavonoids and related plant products. Other areas of his interest were photochemistry and molecular rearrangements. While at IARI, his research interests shifted to the chemistry of pesticides with special interest on new pyrethrum synergist from indigenous source and environmental photodegration of pesticides on which he has done extensive work. He set up an excellent pesticide residue analysis laboratory. Mukerjee initiated and organized an All India Coordinated Research Project on pesticide residues with 17 centres to focus on the safety aspect of the use of pesticides. He has published more than 200 research articles, holds a number of patents and guided a large number of PhD Students.
Other Contributions: Mukherjee helped, as a consultant, the Scientific Commission on Bhopal Gas of Government of India in generating data on toxic effects of Bhopal gas. Since 1993, he is with the Ozone Cell of Ministry of Environment & Forest, as a consultant, to help in the implementation of Montreal Protocol for phasing out Ozone Depleting Substances. He was a Member of the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee of UNEP (1997-2000).
Awards and Honours: Professor Mukerjee was awarded Macpherson Gold Medal, UGC National Lectureship (1981), and Lifetime Achievement Award of Pesticide Society of India (2001-08). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, London (1965). He is a Founder Fellow of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi and Fellow of Society of Pesticide Science of India.