Baishnab Charan Tripathy received BSc and MSc degrees from Utkal University, after which he joined Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and worked under the supervision of Professor Prasanna Mohanty. Thereafter, he was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Ohio State University, Columbus (1981-83) where he worked on bioenergetics of choloroplast and mitochondria and then at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1984-87) where he worked on heterogeneity of chlorophyll biosynthesis. Subsequently, he worked for National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Kennedy Space Centre, Florida and worked on space-grown plants and studied the effect of zero gravity on photosynthesis, plant growth and development. On returning to India in 1987, he joined Faculty of the School of Life Sciences, JNU, started his Photobiology Laboratory there and initiated both teaching and research programs in plant physiology and photobiology. He continues to work as Professor at JNU.
Academic and Research Achievements: Tripathy has made significant contributions on photosynthesis. His work on 5-aminolevulinic acid, a precursor of heme and chlorophyll, as a photodynamic herbicide is very interesting. It induces green plants to accumulate excess amounts of tetrapyrroles, which act as photosensitizers and cause singlet oxygen-mediated lethal damage to plants and its photosynthetic apparatus. His work has strengthened the novel concept of biodegradable, environmentally safe photodynamic herbicides. His work on plant senescence in relation to chlorophyll metabolism has demonstrated the presence of different sets of enzymes, i.e. kinetin sensitive and insensitive, that are responsible for the degradation of chlorophyll and protochlorophyllide, respectively. Regulation of chlorophyll biosynthesis and chloroplast biogenesis by chloroplast envelop membranes is another interesting aspect of his work. His experiments pertaining to the response of greening process of plants to environmental stresses demonstrates the acclimation of greening process to environmental stresses. His demonstration of the role of meristematic layer in the intra and inter cellular signaling system in relation to chloroplast development of wheat plants grown under red light are novel and interesting. He has cloned the porC gene and demonstrated its function. Unlike its porA and porB isoforms, it codes for a light inducible protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase C that phototransforms protochlorophyllide to chlorophyllide and significantly contributes to chlorophyll biosynthesis. He has overexpressed proC in Arbidopsis for resistance of plants to photodynamic herbicides. He has also overexpressed the gene chlorophyllide a oxidase (CAO) that converts chlorophyllide a to chlorphyllide b. Its overexpression significantly alters the chlorophyll a/b ratio of plants that have profound effect on the light harvesting function of plants grown in low (shade plants) and high light intensities (sun plants). He also authored over 60 research articles and mentored a large number of PhD, MPhil and MSc students.
Other Contributions: Having keen interest to promote performing arts among masses, Tripathy has been Vice President of the Odissi Kendra to promote Odissi and Chhau dance forms, and Convener of Education, Kalinga Sikhya Samaj, that runs a school for poor students of Delhi. He is on the Editorial Board of the journal: Horticulture, Environment and Biotechnology.
Awards and Honours: Professor Tripathy was elected Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad and National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi.