Shyam Prakash received MSc (Botany) from Aligarh University. Thereafter, he joined Division of Botany (later Division of Genetics), Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi in 1963. Subsequently, he obtained PhD (1969) from Aligarh University. He worked on cytogenetics of wild Brassica allies (1976-77) with Prof S Tsunoda, Tohoku University, Japan on a JSPS Fellowship. Later, he moved to Brassica group of Professor VL Chopra in 1988 at National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology, IARI from where he retired as Professor. He was an INSA Honorary Scientist.
Academic and Research Achievements: Prakash’s interest was to breed better Brassicas. In this direction he concentrated on: cytogenetical breeding and somatic cell genetics of Brassica and allies; utilization of Brassica related wild germplasm to introgress desirable nuclear genes for improving agronomic characters and cytoplasmic genes for developing alloplasmics in crop species for expression of cytoplasmic male sterility. CMS in B juncea was developed based on 9 different wild species. Fertility restorer nuclear genes were introgressed for some of them from respective cytoplasmic donor species following chromosome engineering. All these stocks have been made available to Brassica breeders for their utilization to breed better Brassicas. He had collected a large number of wild Crucifers from Spain in 1997. He had also published 90 research articles, 20 reviews and jointly edited 3 books. He had guided 12 students for their MSc and PhD degrees.
Awards and Honours: Professor Prakash had received BP Pal Award (1997), Rafi Ahmad Kidwai Award (1999), INSA Silver Jubilee Medal (2003) and K Ramaiah Award (2004). He was elected Fellow of the National Academy Agriculture Sciences, India (1999). He had chaired different sessions at International Rapeseed Congress, Australia (1999), Denmark (2003) and China (2007).