Triloki Nath Khoshoo received his PhD (1958) degree from Panjab University, Chandigarh. His areas of specialization were plant evolution and improvement, biomass energy, ecodevelopment and environmental sciences. He was Director, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow (1976-82); Secretary, Government of India (1982-85) and CSIR Distinguished Scientist (1986-90).
Academic and Research Achievements: Khoshoo made significant contributions to the genetic-evolutionary understanding of several non-agricultural economic plants (including ornamentals). Khoshoo worked on experimental evolution in polymorphic weeds, vegetables, minor fruits and medicinal plants. He studied in detail the evolutionary dynamics involving analysis of breeding systems, cytogenetics, ecogeography and competitive ability. Based on the data emanating from these studies, the variation patterns were recorded in traditional taxonomic units so as to reflect evolutionary relationships as accurately as possible. He applied this knowledge for their improvement and evolved over 30 cultivars of ornamentals, many of which are in nursery trade. He elucidated the genetic system of gymnosperms (softwoods in particular). His work has been of considerable practical importance in forest tree breeding programmes for chalking out breeding methodologies for this economically and environmentally important group of plants. Khoshoo had turned his attention to the evolutionary implications of the variation in DNA content in chromosomes of gymnospermous taxa and other trees, and had related these data to their habitat and other aspects of environment. Many of the basic concepts he developed are known for their originality and have stood the test of time. He authored nine, edited eleven books and published over 235 research papers.
Other Contributions: Khoshoo was the architect of some major environmental initiatives taken up in the country, e.g. Ganga Action Plan, Institute of Himalayan Environmental Development, Centres of excellence in environmental and revegetation of degraded lands, and Conservation of biodiversity on a holistic basis. Khoshoo was National Chairman, IUBS (1981-85); Vice-Chairman, Governing Council, UNEP, Nairobi (1982); Member, International Task Force on Tropical Forestry, World Resources Institute, Washington (1984); Member, Scientific Advisory Committee to the Union Cabinet (1982-85); President, Bioenergy Society of India (1985-86), National Academy of Sciences, India (1985-86, also Hony Fellow), Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding (1986), Indian Science Congress (1986) and Indian Society of Tree Scientists (1988-91); Member of INSA Council (1983-84), National Chairman, Scientific Committee on Problems of Environment (SCOPE) (1988-91); Member, National Committee, IGBP (INSA) (1988-91); Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, DBT (1989); Plant Advisory Group, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Switzerland (1988), and Advisory Committee to the Director General, UNESCO (1993). He served as co-editor of Silvae Genet (1960-84) and was Editorial Board Member of Plant Systematics and Evolution (Springer Verlag, 1978).
Awards and Honours: Dr Khoshoo was a recipient of Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Medal and Prize (1977); UGC National Lecturer (1981); Birbal Sahni Gold Medal (1982); Seth Memorial Medal (1983); Ramdeo Misra Medal (1984); Dayawati Vira Medal (1985); GP Chatterjee Lecture Award by INSA (1985); Sanjay Gandhi Award (1986); Distinguished Service Award of Indian Science Congress (1988); Om Prakash Bhasin Foundation Award (1989); Distinguished Service Award of Indian Society of Genetic and Plant Breeding (1991); Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow (1991-93); Felicitation by Bochasanwasi Shri Aksharpurushotam Sanstha, Ahmedabad (1992), Padma Bhushan (1992). He was President, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad; General President, Indian Science Congress Association (1985-86); Fellow, the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World; Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding, Indian Botanical Society, National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi and Institution of Engineers. He was Foreign Secretary, INSA (1985-88).