Jillella Venkateswarlu obtained DSc (1946) from Andhra University and PhD (1951) from University of Cambridge, UK. He worked as Professor and Head, Department of Botany, Principal, College of Science and Technology (1968-71) and Chairman, Faculty of Science (1969-72), all at Andhra University, Waltair; Emeritus Scientist, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (1972-75); UGC Research Scientist (1975-78); Fulbright Fellow and Visiting Professor, Department of Genetics, University of Wisconsin, USA (1973-74).
Academic and Research Achievements: Venkateswarlu studied chromosomal behaviour in autotetraploid maize, and embryological phenomena in Oenothera blandina de Vries, a deficiency-duplicate heterozygote. His chief contributions were in plant embryology and plant cytogenetics. First to describe the cell lineages in embryogeny, he was a pioneer in angiosperm embryology in India. In cytogenetics, he and his students were the first to map the pachytene chromosomes of several crop plants like sorghum, pearl millet, job’s tears, solanums, tomatillo, mustards, brassicas and several fodder grasses. This work was of much significance, both for the understanding of the genome relationships and for its potential to crop improvement. Coming into contact with RA Fisher, he learnt the importance of the statistical approach to cytogenetic problems. He co-authored two books: An Introduction to Agriculture in India (Asia Publishing House) and Flora of Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences).
Other Contributions: Venkateswarlu served as Member of the Indian Society of Cytology and Genetics (Founder President, 1966-67), and INSA Council (1966-68).
Awards and Honours: Professor Venkateswarlu received the Birbal Sahni Memorial Gold Medal (1971) and Bashambar Nath Chopra Lecture Award by INSA (1974). He was elected President of the Botany Section of Indian Science Congress (1962), Fellow, Indian Botanical Society (President also, 1962) and Indian Academy of Sciences, and Founder Fellow of the Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences (Vice-President also, 1971-74).