Rajaram Nityananda earned his BSc degree in Physics (1967) from the University of Madras, MSc (1969) in Physics from Indian Institute of Technology Madras, and PhD (1977) from Bangalore University, working at the Materials Science Division of the National Aeronautical (now Aerospace) Laboratory, Bangalore on optics and crystallography. He worked as a member of scientific staff at the Raman Research Institute (1975-2000) before taking up the position of Centre Director, NCRA-TIFR, Punewhich he held till 2010. He then served as Centre Director, TCIS (TIFR Centre for Interdiscipliary Science, Hyderabad) from March 2011 to June 2012. . From March 2013 -January 2014, he was a visiting professor at IISER, Pune, and is currently with the School of Liberal Studies, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. In the last two locations, he has taught physics and mathematics to undergraduate students.
Academic and Research Achievements: Professor Rajaram Nityananda has developed the theory of light propagation in cholesteric liquid crystals, predicting the optical analogue of the Borrmann effect. With Ramseshan, he identified Berry's geometric phase as a case of the Pancharatnam phase for polarised light, thereby opening up the possibility of many new experiments. He has worked on the theory of t e resistivity of binary liquid mixtures, predicted the rapid rotation of neutron polarisation in helical magnetic structures. Worked out with Ranganath the forces between defects in elastically anisotropic nematic liquid crystals. With Narayan, he has applied the maximum entropy method to the crystallographic "phase-problem" and for image reconstruction in astronomy. He brought out the usefulness of Fermat's principle in gravitational lensing calculations including both the mean gravitational field and its fluctuations and has worked on galactic dynamics and structure formation in the universe.
Other Contributions: Nityananda served as an INSA Council Member (1989-91). He has been Editor of Pramana - Journal of Physics, and Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy. Currently, he is Editor of Resonance, Journal of Science Education.
Awards and Honours: Nityananda received the KS Krishnan Memorial Lecture Award (2004) of INSA. He is a Fellow, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad.