Yashwant D. Vankar earned his B.Sc. from Gorakhpur University and M.Sc. from Banaras Hindu University, after which he joined the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune to work with Professor B. D. Tilak for his PhD degree in the area of “synthesis of heterocyclic compounds”. After finishing his doctoral work, he worked as a Research Assistant at the Hindustan lever Research Centre, Bombay for one year (1975-76) before going as a Post-doctoral Research Associate to King’s College, London, UK (1976-77) with Prof. D. I. Davies, then to the University of Southern California, Los Angeles to work with Prof. G. A. Olah (1977-1979), and finally to Rice University to work with Prof. E. Wenkert (1979-80) on varied aspects of synthetic organic chemistry including total synthesis of natural products. He was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the University of Konstanz, Germany (1990-1991) in the group of Professor R. R. Schmidt. He retired from IIT Kanpur on October 31, 2018.
Academic and Research Achievements: On returning to India towards the end of 1980, he joined as a Lecturer at the Department of Chemistry, IIT, Kanpur in 1981. He initiated research work in the area of development of new synthetic methodologies that includes the development of reagents, reactions and synthons using chemistry of nitroaliphatics, palladium chemistry, sulfur chemistry, asymmetric synthesis, solid acid catalysts etc. Towards the end of 1990s he began his work in the area of synthetic carbohydrate chemistry primarily functionalizing glycals and substituted glycols to O-, C-, and N-glycosides, and design and synthesis of glycosidase inhibitors using a variety of strategies including ring closing metathesis, cycloaddition reaction etc. He has published over 130 research articles and has mentored a large number of coworkers including 30 PhD students. He served IIT Kanpur as a Professor till June 2016, and then as an Emeritus Fellow till October 2018.
Other Contributions: Vankar has served on the Board of Studies of the University of Hyderabad. He has been a member of the DST’s womens’ scientist’s committee since 2005. He has edited a special issue on “Carbohydrate Chemistry” published by Proceedings of Indian National Science Academy, Part A, Physical Sciences (2005). served as member, National Scientific Committee, 33rd International Chemistry Olympiad, Mumbai (2001), served as Member on the Editorial boards of the Proceedings of Indian Academy of Sciences (Chemical Sciences).
Awards and Honours: Professor Vankar was awarded the Basudeb Banerjee Memorial Medal of the Indian Chemical Society (1989), received CRSI Bronze Medal (2000), and is a Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry (2007). He is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (2002). He is a recipient of DST’s Ramanna Fellowship (2006-2009) and J. C. Bose National fellowship (2010-2015). He was a S. K. Roy Memorial chair Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (2008-2011) and Mr. and Mrs. G. S. Bindra Memorial Chair Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (2013-2016). He was a J. C. Bose National Fellow of DST (2010-2018).