Doraiswamy earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Madras and went on to do his graduate studies in chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA where he obtained his MS and PhD under Olaf A Hougen. On returning to India, he joined the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) as a Senior Scientific Officer, eventually rising to the position of Director in 1979. He established a flourishing School of Chemical Reaction Engineering, and was deeply involved in the development of the Indian chemical industry. On retirement from NCL in 1989, Doraiswamy joined the Iowa State University as Glenn Murphy Professor. In 1996 he was named Anson Marston Distinguished Professor, the highest academic rank of the university. He continued his researches in chemical reaction engineering, particularly, the engineering aspects of organic synthesis till his death. He received Honorary Doctorates from Wisconsin (USA) and Salford (UK) Universities.
Academic and Research Achievements: Doraiswamy helped bring new fields within the purview of chemical reaction engineering, such as phase transfer catalysis and sonochemical reactions. His papers in the areas of properties estimation and chemical reaction engineering in the 1950s and 1960s received international attention, and for the first time placed Indian chemical engineering firmly on the map of the world. With Professor MM Sharma, he wrote the first comprehensive book in chemical engineering, titled Heterogeneous Reactions: Analysis, Examples, and Reactor Design (John Wiley Publishers). He published over one-hundred seventy five research papers, wrote five books including the one entitled Organic Synthesis Engineering (Oxford University Press), edited three more. He mentored students at the PhD and MS levels from different universities in India and abroad.
Other contributions: By attracting highly gifted and talented scientists to the laboratory, Doraiswamy considerably raised NCL’s international prestige. He established a centre of excellence in catalysis, which was responsible for developing a new class of zeolites, Encilites, laid the foundation for a plant tissue culture pilot plant unit, which broke new ground for propagating bamboo by tissue culture, and started schools in polymer science and engineering and bio-organic chemistry. He established many collaborative programmes with the academia and industry. The most important were with Salford University in England, where he was appointed Professor, and with the University of Erlangen, Germany. He was the leader of the Indian side in a major joint Indo-Soviet program on Catalysis. Doraiswamy served as a member of the INSA Council during 1983-85.
Awards and Honours: Doraiswamy received about twenty-five prestigious awards, including Padma Bhushan, Syed Hussain Zaheer Medal of INSA (1983), Richard Wilhelm and William Walker Awards of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Diamond and Godrej Awards of the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers, Personal Achievement Award of McGraw-Hills, Bhasin Award, Jawaharlal Nehru Award and Homi Bhabha Medal. He was a Fellow Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS); Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad. A US-India lectureship in his name is instituted jointly by NCL and Iowa State University.