Varadachari Krishnan had his early education at Madras and Banaras Hindu University and joined the Indian Institute of Science (1958) as a graduate student in the Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry under the guidance of CC Patel. In his doctoral work of oxo-and peroxo titanium (IV), zirconium (IV) and thorium (IV) complexes he demonstrated the transient existence of thoryl ion. He did his post-doctoral work with KA Jensen at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark (1965-67). Along with CK Jorgensen, he proposed an optical electronegativity scale based on the spectral analysis of charge transfer transitions in diverse metal-coordination compounds. Later, he moved to Texas A&M University (1968-70) and worked with RA Zingaro. Returning to India, he joined Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay (1970) and later moved to Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore (1974). Till his retirement (1999) from IISc, he held various positions such as the Chairman of Department, Chairman, Division of Chemical Sciences and Tata Chemical Endowed Professorship. He is presently an Honorary Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore.
Academic and Research Achievements: Krishnan's postdoctoral research was focused on the donor ability of organic sulphur selenium and tellurium compounds towards transition metal ions and on diverse phospho selenates and their coordinating ability towards metal ions. He, demonstrated the oxidative addition of hydrides of sulphur and selenium towards Rh(I) and Ir (I) complexes. At IIT, Bombay he worked on sulphur-selenium ring compounds and coordination chemistry of non transition elements. He initiated his work on crown ethers and established a renowned school in porphyrin chemistry, perhaps the first one in the country. Along with his students he investigated photo-induced excitation energy and electron transfer reactions relevant to photosynthetic systems in nanosecond time scale. His work on biomimetic molecular model systems such as multiporphyrins, chlorophyll-porphyrins, prophyrin-crown ether, prophyrin dimers, trimers and tetramers are well appreciated. He has published over 150 research papers edited 10 books and has mentored a number of students including over 40 post-doctoral Fellows.
Other Contributions: Dr Krishnan is closely associated with Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) and was its former President (2000-03). He has been a Founder Member of Chemical Research Society of India (CRSI) and presently its President (2008-10). He is closely connected with the activities of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) and has been the Coordinator for TWAS Regional Office for Central and South Asia at Bangalore. He has been in the Editorial Advisory Board over 10 journals in chemical sciences. He was a Council Member of Indian Academy of Sciences (1989-97) and was also its Secretary (1989-94).
Awards and Honours: Among the several honours and distinctions conferred on him a few are the IISc Alumni Award, Chemito Award, Golden Jubilee Commemoration Medal of INSA (1998), Khundkar Memorial Award Lecture of University of Dacca, Hindustan Lever Research Professorship and Nayudamma Memorial Lecture. Krishnan has served INSA as its Vice President (2000-03). He was elected as a Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences (1984), President, CRSI (2008-2011), Honorary Professor, Banaras Hindu University (2010), Honorary Fellow, Chinese Chemical Society.