Somendra Mohan Bhattacharjee obtained his BSc (1975) from Presidency College, Kolkata, MSc (1977) from Calcutta University and PhD (1984) from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA under the guidance of Professor JF Nagle. He was post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Massachusetts (1984-86) and at AT&T Bell Labs, Murray Hill, USA (1986-88). On returning to India, he joined the Institute of Physics, Bhubaneshwar as Senior Lecturer (1988), and then became Assistant Professor (1992), Associate Professor (1998) and finally a Professor (2004).
Academic and Research Achievements: Bhattacharjee's research interests are in theoretical condensed matter physics and biological physics. He has made significant contributions in the areas of (i) Force-induced unzipping of DNA (ii) Equilibrium phases of miscut crystal faces, (iii) Procedure for data-collapse (iv) Directed polymers and kinetic roughening, and (v) Anisotropic dimmer models. He was the first to have shown the existence of a force induced unzipping transition of DNA theoretically. This work has ushered in a new era in the studies of DNA and bound polymers, with worldwide activity on various aspects of the unzipping transition. The theory of helicase motion based on this unzipping mechanism in a fixed distance ensemble is the only systematic approach to date on this complex biological problem. The unusual phase diagram of miscut (vicinal) surface with a tricritical point was explained by him via a renormalization group analysis of the interacting steps. The predicted universal phase diagram unifies the phases observed for surfaces in different directions. This has led to intense theoretical studies of similar problems of steps. The controversial problem of polymers with random interactions was resolved by him through an exact renormalization group. The predicted novel phase transition has found applications in many areas including DNA. His work on nonlocality in kinetic roughening explains why the Kardar-Parisi-Zhang type behaviour is not observd experimentally. He has analyzed the exact solution of an anisotropic dimmer model near the Kasteleyn critical point for finite size scaling behaviour. This work for the first time showed the nature of finite size scaling for anisotropic systems. Bhattacharjee has published about 65 research papers in refereed journals.
Awards and Honours: Bhattacharjee is a Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (2000). He was a regular Associate of ICTP, Trieste (1995-2001).