Swaminathan Sivaram obtained his BSc (Chemistry) (1965) from Madras Christian College and MSc (Chemistry) (1967) from IIT Kanpur. Subsequently, he obtained PhD (Organic Chemistry) from Purdue University working with Professor H.C.Brown. He also worked with Professor J.P. Kennedy at the Institute of Polymer Science, the University of Akron, Akron, Ohio in the area of carbocationic polymerization of isobutylene. His work on alkylation of tertiary alkyl halides with trialkylaluminum with Professor Kennedy laid the foundation for a deeper understanding of the mechanism of carbocationic polymerization and eventually gave birth to the field of 'controlled' and 'living' carbocationic polymerization. He returned to India in 1973 to join the newly established Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited, (IPCL), Baroda, in its Research Center. Dr Sivaram joined National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune in 1988 as Head of the Polymer Chemistry Division, and was appointed Director of the Laboratory in 2002. He assumed the position of a CSIR Bhatnagar Fellow at NCL in 2011 upon completion of his tenure as Director of NCL. In 2016 he moved to the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research. Pune as an Honorary professor and INSA Senior Scientist.
Academic and Research Achievements: Sivaram played a key role in setting up the first petrochemical R&D Centre at IPCL and initiated research in the area of olefin polymerization using Ziegler Natta catalysts. He also established an active school of research in Ziegler Natta polymerization of olefins at NCL, initiated research in the area of controlled polymer synthesis using anionic and radical polymerization methods, polycondensation chemistry, surface modification of polymers and synthesis of polymers with well defined functionalities. He has authored over 220 research papers, edited two books and authored one book. He is cited as an inventor in over 50 issued US Patents and fisty Indian patents. He has mentored 36 PhD students and over a dozen post doctoral fellows.. Many of the processes and products developed by Dr Sivaram and his associates are in commecial use, both in India and abroad.
Other Contributions: Dr Sivaram transformed NCL into a premier centre of interdisciplinary research. He laid the foundation of strong research groups in the area of advanced materials, scientific computing, new energy resources, chemical biology and chemistry of biomass and biomass derived products.He established the NCL Innovation Park and created the first Technology -Business Incubator ( Venture Centre) within CSIR. He played a key role in drafting the thought paper for setting up the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) and functioned as the first Project Director of IISER, Pune in 2006.
Awards and Honours: Dr. Sivaram was awarded the Vasvik Award for Excellence in Applied Industrial Research (1987), Professor M. Santappa Silver Jubilee Award by the Society of Polymer Science (1988), FICCI Award in Physical Sciences (1996), Professor S.R. Palit Award by the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (1997), Silver Medal by Chemical Research Society of India (2002), Vishwakarma Medal of INSA (2003) Goyal Prize in Applied Sciences (2007) and Material Scientist of the Year Award, MRSI (2010); and Padma Shri (2006). He has been a Visitng Professor at the University of Bordeaux, France(1995) and H.A.Morton Distinguished Professor of Polymer Science at the University of Akron, USA (2006). DST conferred on him the J.C.Bose Fellowship for the period 2007-2015.