S Bhagavantam completed his DSc from the Osmania University, Hyderabad. His areas of specialization were Raman spectroscopy, ultrasonics, cosmic rays, radio astronomy and crystallography. He was a Professor of Physics (1932-48); Principal of the University Colleges (1941-48), Andhra University, Waltair; Scientific Liaison Officer, Indian High Commission, UK (1948-49); Director, Physical Laboratories (1949-52); Vice-Chancellor (1952-57), Osmania University, Hyderabad; Director (1957-61), Indian Institue of Science; Scientific Advisor, Ministry of Defence, and Director-General, Defence Research and Development Organization (1962-69). He held the position of Chairman, Bharat Electronics Ltd.
Academic and Research Achievements: Bhagavantam contributed to several aspects of the Raman Effect in gases and the group theoretic applications in the study of molecular lattice vibrations. He devised new and elegant ultrasonic techniques like the wedge method, which made possible the first reliable measurements of the elastic constants of diamond and other crystals. Production and study of very high frequency ultrasonic waves, studies on photoelasticity in crystals and group theoretic methods to enumerate the physical constants of crystals are some of his valuable contributions to physics. Professor Bhagavantam's capabilities as a Scientific Administrator came into full bloom during his tenure as Scientific Advisor to the Minster of Defence and Director General of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). He brought into focus the importance of Applied Research to cater to the needs of the country's defence services. Under his leadership, the DRDO experienced a phenomenal all round growth be it in indigenization or be it in R&D in the most advanced areas. He realized the growing importance and crucial role of areas like Electronics, Communications, Radar, Solid State devices, Missiles, Metallurgy, Physiology and Nuclear Medicine and established new Laboratories for R&D in these areas. No fewer than fifteen Laboratories were established during his tenure.
Other Contributions: Professor Bhagavantam was the Chairman / Member of a number of Scientific / Technical bodies and made notable contributions to all these. He was the Chairman of the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a Public Sector firm manufacturing electronic equipment for the Defence services. BEL had achieved outstanding successes in the production of different types of equipments as well as business turnover owing to the overall guidance of Professor Bhagavantam. He was also the Chairman of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for a short period, the Chairman of the Committee on Organization of Scientific Research in India and a member of the Committee on Science and Technology of Government of India. He also served as Scientific Adviser to the Indian High Commissioner, UK. In all these he left an indelible mark with his clear thinking and ability to spot the essentials. Bhagavantam published three books which included Crystal Symmetry and Physical Properties.
Awards and Honours: S Bhagavantam was was awarded the SS Bhatnagar Medal of the INSA (1970). He was Vice-President, INSA (1955-56), President, Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences, General President, Indian Science Congress Association (1973). He was President, COSTED and President, Current Science Association (1970-76), Chairman of the Indian National Committee of IUPAP and Vice-President, IUPAP and IUGG.