Har Darshan Kumar obtained his BSc (Hons) and MSc degrees from Banaras Hindu University (BHU), served as Lecturer in Bihar University (Ranchi College) (1956-58) and as Assistant Professor (Botany), Gorakhpur University (1958-64) from where he went to England as Commonwealth Scholar (1960-63) at the University of London. There he specialised in the field of genetics of blue green algae. On returning to India, he served the newly established University of Udaipur as Reader (1964-66), Professor (1966-71) and later as Senior Professor of Botany. Due to lack of facilities for hard-core work on genetics, he shifted to ecology, hydrobiology and systematics, with some work on simple mutagenesis and UV effects. In 1972, he joined the Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla as Senior Professor of Botany and Head of the Division of Biosciences, and subsequently joined BHU (1973) as Senior Professor in the Department of Botany. He was the Dean, Faculty of Science, BHU (1988-90; 1992-94). After retirement (1994), he served as CSIR Emeritus Scientist up to 1999.
Academic and Research Achievements: At BHU, Kumar succeeded in getting the status of the Department of Botany elevated to a Centre of Advanced Study (1979) and developed and nurtured the multidisciplinary Biotechnology Programme as its Coordinator (1989-93). He has made significant contribution in mutagenesis, genetic recombination, effects of radiations, especially UV, nitrogen fixation, and other aspects of the growth and physiology of blue-green algae. Kumar has published over 150 research and review papers and written 30 books on diverse areas of physiology, microbiology, biotechnology, global environment, climate change, agriculture, forestry, human ecology, genomics, and molecular biology. He has guided 38 PhD students.
Other Contributions: Kumar has organized an active and highly productive centre of algal biotechnology, river and lake pollution, microbial ecology, and biological hydrogen production. He worked in Canada (1966-67), Japan (1981-82, 1995), Germany (1983-84; 1988) as Guest Professor. The United Nations Environment Programme (Nairobi) nominated him as a member of its panel on Environmental Effects of Ozone Depletion in 1989 and he continues to serve it. He has also edited the Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology (Korea) for the past several years. Kumar was a Council Member of INSA (1997-99) and received citations of excellence from the Executive Secretary of the UNEP (Nairobi) in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006.
Awards and Honours: Dr Kumar was elected a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1975) and National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad (1985). He was also a Fellow of the Explorers Club, New York (1981).