PK Iyengar did his BSc and MSc from Travancore University and PhD from the University of Bombay, Mumbai. He joined the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in 1952 as a young research scientist. He worked as Research Assistant at TIFR (1952-55); Scientific Officer at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) (1955-65); Head, Nuclear Physics Division, BARC (1965-72); and Director, Physics Group, BARC (1972-84). Dr Iyengar took over as Director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in 1984. He was appointed Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary to the Department of Atomic Energy in 1990. Concurrently, he was also Chairman of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India. Iyengar was INSA Senior Scientist during 1994-98.
Academic and Research Achievements: Dr Iyengar worked in the field of neutron scattering up to early sixties. He worked with BN Brockhouse in Canada, contributing to path-breaking research on lattice dynamics in germanium. After returning to India he built up and lead a team that gained international recognition for its original research contributions in field of lattice dynamics. In 1960s, he turned to the design of India’s first plutonium fast-reactor, PURNIMA, and led the team that successfully commissioned the reactor in 1972. As Director, BARC, he took charge of the construction of the DHRUVA reactor, the completion of which was then in question, and brought it to a successful conclusion. He introduced a Technology Transfer Cell at the Centre to assist and speed the process of technology transfer from research institutes to industry. He motivated basic research in fields ranging from molecular biology, to chemistry and material science. He nucleated new technologies like lasers and accelerators, which led to the establishment of a new Centre for Advanced Technology, at Indore. Under his leadership the Department of Atomic Energy vigorously pursued the nuclear power programme with the commissioning of two new power reactors at Narora and Kakrapar, and continued with the development of new reactor systems, such as liquid-sodium based fast reactors. He emphasized on enhanced production of heavy-water, nuclear fuel and special nuclear materials as well as on their export.
Other Contributions: In 1974, Iyengar played a leading role in terms of planning and coordination in the peaceful nuclear explosion at Pokhran. Over the last decade he has been actively involved in science policy and science administration, and after retirement has served in various positions such as Member of the Atomic Energy Commission; Scientific Advisor to the Government of Kerala; on the Board of the Global Technology Development Centre; President of the Indian Nuclear Society; and a Member of the Inter-governmental Indo-French Forum, besides serving on various national committees. His current interests focus on advances in nuclear technology for nuclear applications, issues of nuclear policy and national security, science education and the application of science in nation building. He has participated in various international meetings on non-proliferation issues. Most recently, as a Founder Trustee of the Agastya International Foundation, he has been focusing on rural education and instilling creativity and scientific temperament in rural children. He was Member INSA Council (1982-84) and President, International Radiation Physics Society (1986-91).
Awards and Honours:> Dr Iyengar has been the recipient of many awards and honours that include SS Bhatnagar Award (1971), Padma Bhushan (1975), the FICCI Award (1981); Raman Centenary Medal of the Indian Academy of Sciences (1988), Homi J Bhabha Medal of INSA (1990), RD Birla Award of the Indian Physics Association (1992), Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Award of the Indian Science Congress Association (1993), and the Homi Bhabha Medal of Indian Science Congress Association (2006). He is a Fellow, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1966), National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad (1990), Maharashtra Academy of Science (1979), Foreign Fellow of the Lorand E?tr?s Physical Society, Hungary (1980).