Vaiakalathur Shankar Sunder received a Masters from IIT Madras and PhD (1977) from Indiana University under the guidance of PR Halmos. During a post-doctoral year at Santa Barbara, he co-authored a book with Halmos on Integral Operators. Upon returning to India (1978), he taught for a year in Madras Christian College, and then worked as Visiting Fellow at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) for a couple of years. Subsequently, he joined the Faculty of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) and worked for more than a decade in its centres at Delhi and Bangalore. He finally moved to the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), Chennai in 1995 and continues to work there.
Academic and Research Achievements: Towards the end of his tenure at TIFR, Sunder changed his research from operator theory to operator algebras. It is probably fair to say he is one of the first Indian operator algebraists. He was invited to lecture in international conferences in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, UK and USA. In addition to publishing about sixty papers, mostly in reputed international journals, he has authored six books including at least three monographs at the graduate level or higher on von Neumann algebras (one of which was co-authored with Vaughan Jones, one of two operator algebraists to have received the coveted Fields Medal). He also guided six PhD students. A small group of operator algebraists has formed around him in IMSc, Chennai, which has been organizing annual meetings on the subject.
Other Contributions: Sunder made notable contributions to the growth of the mathematics departments at ISI Bangalore and IMSc. He organized and participated in numerous national/international conferences. He was involved in setting up the Homi Bhabha National Institute, where he still serves as Chairman of the Board of Studies for Mathematical Sciences. He also served on the IASc Council (2004-07).
Awards and Honours: Sunder was awarded the SS Bhatnagar Prize (1996). He was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, and National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT, Madras in 2011; and was also awarded an outstanding faculty award from the Homi Bhabha National institute (on the event of its completing 10 years of its existence). He has been a recipient of the J.C. Bose Fellowship since 2008.